By Ray Gallagher Examiner Sports Editor @Directrays
Okay, so I got enough emails and texts last week to confirm that I might have ticked off some local baseball coaches/parents for some of the sweeping “generalizations” I might have made before we made off for exit 63 on the Garden State Parkway #LBI for 10 glorious days. Look, I’m sorry if I pinched some nerves when I said the things I said about the behavior issues of SOME parents and SOME coaches on local baseball diamonds, but when I get the sense that young kids are being affected negatively by people who should know better, I get a little sensitive and somewhat testy on THEIR behalf.
We just need to figure out a better way to relate with one another because, as I’ve been saying since something like 1996 (about seven years after I began this gig and times began to change): We’re taking youth sports way too seriously, and the kids are seeing and hearing things they shouldn’t be exposed to at such a young age. They grow up from 8U on thinking it’s normal for SOME parents to gripe at their own coaches and for SOME coaches to carry on with opposing coaches and umpires, who are doing the best they can; whether that meets your standards or not. I’ve umpired for over 45 years now and I dare some of you “arm-chair experts” to get behind a catcher and have at it #NotEasy.
“Why don’t you just retire,” a parent screamed at an umpire at an 11U game I was at this weekend (P.S. he later issued two warnings to kids for sub-par behavior but had the good sense to not toss either player). It won’t be long before that cat does retire, and eventually we’ll have a shortage of men/women willing to umpire when the tomfoolery accelerates to Level 10.
All that said, I know that every coach, every kid and every parent enters into every game with the best of intentions, but keeping that good will and composure through seven innings is a harrowing experience, almost impossible, because we ALL love our kids to death and don’t want to see them cheated out of anything.
I’m just saying we need to do better around the kids (from 8U to 18), and I’m terribly sorry if I went overboard two weeks back and shone a couple of local communities in a negative light, but accountability is among the most important things we should be teaching our kids and that starts at the top of every chain.
Let’s remember that as things ramp up and we head into championship weekend for the Greater Hudson Valley Baseball League, one of the best things we have in this neck of the woods to get our kids through the dog days of summer #NothingButLoveFolks!