Poor fan behavior continues to grow all over


There’s something extraordinary about sitting outside on a sunny day with a hot dog in hand while the crack of a bat hitting a baseball or softball fills the air.

For me, it could be a Major League Baseball game, Little League Softball World Series at the Pyle Center or kids hitting a ball off a tee. If people are playing ball, and it’s nice outside, I can sit and watch them do it for hours.

Of course, sitting in a park watching little kids play ball can make you look a little suspicious to parents nowadays, so it’s probably something I wouldn’t suggest doing anymore. I remember one time when I was still living in California, I ...

But I digress.

Of course, there have been many changes in the atmosphere of youth baseball and softball games over the years. For one, there seems to be a much bigger emphasis on player safety, as catchers actually wear helmets — in addition to their face masks — as opposed to the backwards baseball cap I wore back in my day.

This is a change that makes sense to me.

What I’m not a fan of anymore in youth-level games is the chatter by many parents. Oh, I’m not saying we didn’t have a few parents in the stands who needed to be thrown out of the facility and publicly humiliated because of their insipid and juvenile behavior, but it seems to me that it’s getting worse and worse.

A recent “Outside the Lines” on ESPN shared a few horror stories that have taken place recently in youth sports, with a focus on behavior toward referees and game officials. They showed home video of a football referee being assaulted by coaches on another team, and one ref being chased across the field by a mob of people, beaten to the ground and kicked and punched until he was unconscious.

It felt like I was in the Twilight Zone watching that mess.

This would be something easy to pin on American’s infatuation with being the best at everything we do, as well as parents living their lives vicariously through the eyes and deeds of their children, but that would be far too simple, wouldn’t it? Especially when you consider what happened in an amateur soccer game in Brazil last weekend.

According to a Reuters story I am referencing for this column, and seen on multiple media sources, a referee ordered a player to leave the field. When that player, Josenir dos Santos, refused to leave the pitch, the referee, Octavio da Silva, reportedly stabbed the player.

Think about that for just a second. I’ll wait.

Done?

You’d think this is one of the most awful things you’ve ever seen or heard, wouldn’t you? Well, wait. There’s more.

According to the Reuters article, “A mob then turned on da Silva, killing him before severing his head in the remote town of Pio XII, named after a former pope.”

By the way, Brazil will host the 2014 soccer World Cup, and Rio de Janeiro will host the Olympic Games in 2016. Do you think officials who have had a life-long dream of officiating either of those remarkable events might be thinking twice about either calling penalties or even showing up in the first place?

Where in the world is this coming from? In the Brazil case, there is blame to go around any way you look at it. The player should have listened to the official and left the field when he was ejected.The ref probably shouldn’t have pulled out a freakin’ knife on the field and stabbed the player. And the mob really shouldn’t have killed the ref and then cut off his head.

I mean, really, that’s just Etiquette 101, isn’t it? Use your salad fork for salad, pull out chairs for women and don’t chop the heads off officials who are working amateur games because they just love the sport.

Personally, I can’t tolerate sitting in the stands when people are attacking the refs, coaches or players verbally. It ruins the entire experience for me, and that goes for any level of competition. I don’t even like seeing pro athletes booed, which puts me in the minority, as many people argue that it costs a lot of money to go to pro games and you should be able to boo if you want.

But we should all agree this is way out of hand.