I’m feeling in the need of a good rant about boys, sports, bullying, and sportsmanship. So here it is and I promise the next post will be about another fun and light hearted family adventure…
After spending another Saturday running around to multiple sporting events with my boys, I once again observed the horrible negative side of sports. Fortunately, over the years, I have encountered much more positive than negative, but the negative always seems to hit me really hard. I absolutely hate it. How can youth sports bring out such an ugly side of some adults?
Over the past few years, it seems that our society has put forth so much time, money, and energy into confronting the issue of bullying and the issues surrounding this problem. Well, after sitting through many years of athletics, maybe we really need to start looking at what is being taught to boys in the world of youth sports. Over the years, I have watched more coaches yell uncontrollably at their players and referees, put them down, and confront them in a horrific manner. I’ve observed fans (yes, adult fans) calling players names and laughing at young athletes when they botch a play. Why is it that just because a boy is in a sports uniform it is okay for adults to humiliate, taunt, and in a sense bully him? How is it that we tell our kids to not bully and expect them to be kind, yet let all the rules of common decency fall apart when we put our kids out on the court or field? We expect young athletes to follow rules, but silently ignore the poor behavior by adults. This is just wrong.
It seems that we put these young athletes on a pedestal for their successes, yet on the other hand we allow them to be treated horribly by adults and their role models, all in the name of sports. What do we expect? Is there any question why some boys head to school Monday morning and bully those that are weaker? This is a recipe for disaster.
I fully understand that sports are competetive and it’s okay to expect boys to be tough. I am not a fan of the “everyone wins” mentality. It’s ok to cheer and be excited. It’s normal to feel thrilled when your team wins, but it is just as important to be proud when you lose. While I see so many amazing coaches, teammates, and supportive fans (fortunately, this is the majority), I also have seen the worst of the worst. I am truly shocked and disappointed by the horrible behavior by that small percentage. I always leave those games with rude fans and obnoxious coaches feeling a little shaken up and sad for the players. This is not right. Period.
There is no easy answer to fixing this problem, but as parents, we need to start somewhere. Even if that just means starting with ourselves. We need to not just look the other way and shrug off this poor behavior. Fellow sports parents, we know that certain teams will carry a reputation for being more “intense and rowdy”. We need to stop sugar coating the truth and stand up to this overlooked form of bullying. We need to inform leagues and referees of poor behavior. We need to never allow our sons to play for a coach who continually displays poor sportsmanship or be represented by fans who promote this type of behavior. If enough of us stand up for what is right, hopefully we can take the negative out of youth sports. Bottom line, our boys deserve better!