Putting the fun back into youth sports: Why parents should just 'let them play'

Posted at 6:27 AM, Jun 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-28 16:49:39-04

LENEXA, Kan. — By now, you've probably seen the viral video from Colorado of parents at a youth league baseball game in an all-out brawl.

The fight has raised some serious concerns across the country when it comes to "sports parents" behaving badly. Those around the game said while situations such as these can quickly escalate, these incidents are few and far between.

Umpire Tim Cordill has seen it first hand. He started calling balls and strikes at age 12. Now, the seasoned veteran helps train the next generation of baseball officials. He said things are actually a lot easier for umpires in this day and age.

"I think it's better than it's ever been." Cordill said. "Just because of the emergency iPhone, social media, and things like that. The society as a whole doesn't really tolerate things like that anymore."

If these incidents occur locally, officials said there is a plan in place to deal with fans who get out of hand.

"We make sure that all the parents are acting accordingly," said Brayson Christopher, a former child umpire who is now a 23-year-old tournament field manager. "If anyone doesn't [act properly], then we just kind of take care of it. We tell them to calm down a few times. If they are being unruly, we escort them out as well."

Jeremy McDowell has been running Midwest Sports Productions since 2007, and hosts overmore than 140 youth events every year. His brand of quality family entertainment also comes with clear advice on how to show your support for your favorite slugger.

"I believe, and we all believe, that the pressure of collegiate scholarships that we put up on there at 9 years old, that there are scouts in the stands, it's not true," said McDowell. "Let your kid just play the game they love. The results of that are going to take care of itself."

Teams such as the Kansas Gunslingers lay out the ground rules for their parents at the beginning of the year, which team leaders said helps facilitate a much smoother season.

"It's made very clear we are not to engage with the umpire, the other fans, the coaches — and always keep it positive," said parent Sherri Jones.

Christopher said the bottom line is that everyone walks away with a great experience they will remember for a lifetime.

"We don't want the kids to be out here, and feel uncomfortable with the parents yelling at them or at the other team. We just want them to have fun," he said.