Zuri Berry: You’re called ‘spectator’ for good reason | TheUnion.com

Zuri Berry: You’re called ‘spectator’ for good reason

There’s a reason why there is a code of conduct for young athletes, whether it be at their local high school or at the youth recreation league down the street from your house.

It’s too easy for kids to forget the fundamental values of athletic competition, which include, but are not limited to, good sportsmanship.

The one loophole in these code of conducts often times turns out to be the biggest problem any young athlete has to face: his or her parents.

Look, most of you folks in this area are smart enough to know the difference between cheering and heckling; booing and chiding; and uplifting support and degrading jest.

But there is a very small few that simply blur the lines in the name of their children.

Case in point: At Bear River’s recreation league a few weeks ago, in a game between a couple of second grade and third grade teams, a mother apparently could not control herself in the stands.

In fact, her criticism of a couple of youth and one adult referee led to a physical confrontation outside they gym after she was kicked out.

To be short, the police were called and a big spectacle was made out of the melee. It even made it into The Union’s police blotter, a highlight of the weekend’s quirkiest reports made to local law enforcement logs.

The sad part – and ironically the good part – is a group of young kids had to witness what it’s like when grown folks aren’t able to manage themselves courteously among others.

So here’s a little advice for those parents who are interested in how to properly address a referee with whom you may have a tick: Just don’t do it.

Most referees this county will ever see aren’t paid well enough to deal with such crap. Nor are they expected to. They have the power, and right, to keep games under control and both coaches and players cool under their collars.

The last thing they need is an X-factor parent who thinks because their kid’s coach can’t act like an idiot, they can. Which is all the reason why referees are given the right to eject unruly fans, i.e. crazy parents.

Trust me, it’s for the best.

After the thousands of games I’ve watched, the hundreds I’ve covered (getting close to a thousand) and the spare few I was able to play in, I’ve seen every kind of referee imaginable.

From the meticulous to the short-sighted. From the stick broken in the arse, to the fun-loving “let ’em play-type.” They all have their ups and downs.

But the best control the game and the crowd.

Every ref works under specific guidelines in which rules are followed. It’s only fair that when you’re watching your kids play ball, you’re nice enough to realize they have a game to manage on the field, court, ice or whatever surface on which your child is competing.

Don’t go making a spectacle of yourself, rather than the sport, with unnecessary distractions.

Or you’ll likely soon find out that your presence is unnecessary.


Zuri Berry is sports writer at The Union. His column appears Wednesdays. Contact him via e-mail at zberry@theunion.com or by phone at 477-4244. You can also read his blog online at http://www.TheUnion.com.

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