3 horrific stories of parents 'dealing' with little league umpires
Perhaps you have been there. I mean, of course, sitting at the little league ballpark, probably in suffocating heat. Your son or niece or little brother comes up to bat. It seems like the game has been going on forever, but it’s only the second inning.
The opposing pitcher has walked hitter after hitter, but manages a couple strikes when little Johnny swings at pitches in the dirt.
The next pitch is at about Johnny’s eye-level, and he wisely watches it go by. Except the umpire, calls it a strike.
Suddenly you become everything you said you’d never be.
You stand up and scream vile things at this man you do not know. You will gather a petition recommending that this man never umpire another game, and you will bring it with you to the next little-league board meeting. You might even stake the umpire out after the game at his vehicle.
But hold on a minute. Breathe. Stop reacting. Gain some perspective. Johnny will probably recover from the strikeouts; kids really are quite resilient. In fact, your actions probably have more potential to damage Johnny than the strikeout.
And yes, a peak at the latest news will reveal that this is not the worst thing that has happened in the world during the past 24 hours.
Before you do anything you will regret, consider a few real-life events that involve the treatment of a youth-sports official.
1. In one boys’ under-8 soccer tournament, as a 2007 article in The Toronto Star explained, a mother wasn’t shy in voicing her disagreements to a 14-year-old female referee’s calls. Her husband supported her, but the referee’s father happened to be in attendance, and, as you would expect, he defended his daughter. The mother of the player punched the referee’s father. An off-duty police officer heard the commotion and came over to investigate. The out-of-control husband-and-wife were arrested, and their child’s team withdrew from the tournament.
2. According to a Deadspin report in 2012, a referee ended a youth football game in Florida after one of the coaches barged onto the field and shouted at him. This decision only enraged the coach further. Amidst fans, other coaches, and players, the coach tracked the referee down on the other side of the field and sucker-punched him in the face. All of this was caught on video and later broadcasted to all of the Internet.
3. NJ.com highlighted a 2011 incident in Newark, New Jersey, in which a little-league coach – whose son played on his team – wanted a game called due to darkness. He made this request to the umpire, who was also the league president, but the game played on. After the game, the coach and several other men attacked the umpire. They beat him so badly that the umpire’s skull fractured, he lost two teeth, and he suffered a long-term hearing deficit. The coach plead guilty in court, and his son no longer plays baseball.
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