In the Parks and Recreation business we have been watching and monitoring this trend which continues to worsen. I am speaking of coaches, managers, and parents of youth sports “acting inappropriately” in front of players and spectators.

If you read The Examiner, which you must or you would not be reading this, you may have seen columns in recent weeks by Examiner sport writer Karl Zinke and the column by Tim Crone, from the Blue Springs School District, about a dark and growing cloud over sports.

That cloud is the inappropriate behavior of players, coaches, managers, and spectators at various sporting events. I read their articles with much interest, and I will say that we are all on the same page, perhaps at different levels of the sports community, but never-the-less, we are in agreement on the principals involved with this issue. 

In the Parks and Recreation business we have been watching and monitoring this trend which continues to worsen. I am speaking of coaches, managers, and parents of youth sports “acting inappropriately” in front of players and spectators. We also see this expanding trend in many adult sports programs, such as softball. The “inappropriate” action at this level is normally a player toward an official. 

Our ability to react, prevent, and enforce rules or penalize someone is certainly more difficult and less structured at the local level. In professional sports there are financial penalties, suspensions, or even permanent removal from a team if necessary. At the high school level they have some rules and enforcement ability, but as Mr. Zinke & Mr. Crone indicated there may be more help on the way with a state law that has some teeth. This law should make a coach, manager, or parent think twice before they act out.

At the local level our youth sport organizations have in place league rules to help discourage this behavior. If the issue occurs, which it does, they have policy in place as to how you handle it. We have for years encouraged training for youth sports coaches and managers, which most if not all of our local youth sport associations require before you can coach. Some of the leagues make it mandatory for a person who has “acted out” to attend anger management classes and bring proof that they completed the class before they can return to coaching, managing, or being a parent in the stands.

We see some communities resorting to locally established ordinances which are enforceable by the courts; such as arrest, jail time, fees or financial penalties. These local laws have been drawn up to protect the players, coaches, managers, even the parents and board members. We know of some locations where there are no spectators allowed at the games, just players, coaches, and officials. 

What a shame that it has come to this. Our local youth sports are supposed to be fun for the kids, a time to learn about a sport and sportsmanship. A time to learn how to be a leader, and how to communicate with other human beings. A time to develop their physical and mental skills. Somewhere, somehow, it has become too competitive, and if it continues in that direction, it could ruin the fun for everyone.