Helicopter parents are talked about often these days, but many an overzealous mother or father, who fail to realize that they are often not helping their children but are living vicariously through them, are hardly the products of the current generation.
During my Little League days, I felt proud to see my mother attending games, setting up a lawn chair in foul territory near my position at first base. I thought she did that to get a better view of me as I did my best to catch infielders’ wild attempts to put out runners.
It was about a decade later, while I was in college, when Mom revealed why she sat alone along the first-base line.
Loud and at times obnoxious parents.
She said she originally sat in the bleachers behind the backstop, but there she got too many earfuls from grown men and women taunting 10-year-old boys, some of whom were not too much taller than the bats they were struggling to hold up, trying to hit a ball.
I know what some of you might be thinking.
Kids have to grow up learning how to deal with taunts and jeers, and an insulated life doesn’t do a growing boy or girl much overall good. That’s true.
But taunts and jeers are the products of immature behavior. We begrudgingly expect it of some youngsters, and bullying is a serious thing to be dealt with seriously. But we certainly should not have to expect it of adults who --somehow believing they’re actually helping their own children – behave as though they’re hurling insults at a 220-pound big-leaguer paid a few million bucks to put up with such heckling. They forget that these are kids in a sports experience that well may be the first time they’ve done something in front of a crowd of onlookers, a situation ripe for embarrassment even if Mom or Dad is behaving properly.
A story by ABC15’s Nohelani Graf published in the Tribune this past week reminded me of what Mom said to me about some parents at children’s sports events.
Each side of this story has a different version:
As Graf tells it, Parent Todd Weaton says he justifiably complained on the Facebook page of the San Tan United Soccer Academy about what he said were late-breaking changes to the times his son’s soccer matches were to be played. League director Ruben Hernandez told Graf he attempted to speak with Weaton about the situation at the first game, where some words were exchanged, according to ABC15. Weaton’s claim is that he walked away saying he had no problem while Hernandez said the father was aggressive and used swear words, Graf reported.
Now, according to the story, a letter from the league to the Weaton family said Weaton’s son, Junar, is off the team and that they were banned from the organization.
I don’t know exactly what was said or how, although it’s hard to logically conclude that a complete ban from the league would result from simply walking away from a discussion.
On the other hand, to paraphrase the biblical phrase, whatever sins, if any, are committed by the fathers (or mothers), they should not be visited upon the children.
Graf quotes the boy’s mother, who offered a solution involving keeping Todd Weaton from the games, not Junar, so that her second-grader is not sanctioned for something he had no part in. Hernandez, according to the story, said the decision of the league committee is final and for the family to come back next year to work things out.
Come on, Mr. Hernandez. You aren’t the Supreme Court. If you believe Mr. Weaton to be a problem, then you should reconsider and put him the soccer-league timeout room, not Junar.
Such decisions serve as examples to any other parent that this is just kids’ sports. There are no scouts to fan the flames of a parent who aches to see his or her kid getting a juicy athletic scholarship. It’s a bunch of kids learning how to play a game, to learn what it means to be part of a team or group effort, to learn that playing fairly and hard make the victories sweeter and the defeats easier.
In other words, life. Life, so important a thing to learn about that moms and dads might also want to stay away from social media with their beefs, legitimate or not.
I once learned that in ancient Rome, when children misbehaved, authorities punished the parents. I can imagine that juvenile delinquency fell to very low levels in the Roman Empire.
When modern parents misbehave, we certainly shouldn’t punish their children, either.
Read Tribune contributing columnist Mark J. Scarp’s opinions here each weekend. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.