In addition to providing healthy exercise, youth sports programs are supposed to help to develop character by imparting life lessons — commitment, dedication, teamwork, sportmanship, etc.
A group of 10-year-old girl soccer players got a lesson of a different sort at a match last Sunday, a lesson in how not to behave.
At a match between teams from Hall and Cobb counties, a Gainesville mother went onto the field and slapped a referee to show her displeasure with his handling of the contest.
To this point there have been no criminal charges filed, and organizers of the soccer event seemed hopeful that the incident will quietly fade away. That’s too bad.
There’s nothing new about parents misbehaving at sporting events involving their children, but occasionally an incident occurs that reminds us all of how badly grownups can behave at times.
In this case, the irate mother’s child apparently had been knocked down during the course of the competition and, seeing that the player was not seriously injured, the referee had allowed the match to continue, as the rules require. Once play was stopped, the mother stormed the field and verbally accosted the referee. When told she needed the leave the park, she slapped the official.
Yes sir, these kids sure learn some valuable lessons on the playing field.
Those involved were fortunate that this time the end result was only a bloodied lip. Given the violent times in which we live, the outcome could have been a lot worse. Next time it may be. The only difference between a slap and a punch is the positioning of the fingers. The anger behind the action is the same for both.
So the life lesson learned for this group of 10-year-olds is that it’s OK to lash out physically at those in authority when you are angry or upset. How long, you think, before one of them does the same with a parent, teacher or coach?
Youth sports programs are wonderful things. Unfortunately parents, some of whom are obsessed in their passions for youthful competition, don’t always remember to play by the rules. And that’s an embarrassing shame.