Direct Rays

GHVBL, EBUA Offers Stern Message to Players, Coaches Parents

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By Ray Gallagher, Examiner Sports Editor @Directrays
Best moments of prep sports are times like these between Panas trio of Olivia Mark, Emily Jankowski and Emily Barraza, who celebrated a goal in the Panthers’ 2-1 over Lakeland’s JV team in summer soccer league action last week.

Holy moly, it never ends. The few bad apples are at it again.

When a multicounty sports association like the Greater Hudson Valley Baseball League (GHVBL), which comprises teams from Westchester, Rockland, Dutchess, Putnam and parts of western Connecticut, puts out a league-wide edict to nearly 1,000 teams (8U to 18U) to cease and desist all existing nonsense, you know we’ve crapped out yet another milestone for all to be proud of.

The mischief runs from typical baseball chirping and run-of-the-mill nonsense, to recent nitwit antics that allegedly led to umpires being escorted to their cars. It’s a current point of assertion that directed GHVBL chief David Zaslaw to lay down the law in a Saturday morning joint release from the GHVBL and Elite Baseball Umpires Association (EBUA) to one and all.

The final straw dropped late last week when an umpire reported some unnerving issues. We won’t point any fingers at a particular town this summer, but you know who you are.

“Unfortunately, 2023 has produced some alarming trends that while common in youth sports – have been uncommon in the GHVBL – and we intend to take immediate action to reverse this trend,” Zaslaw’s dictum declared.

These bullet points followed:

  • We have never removed a team midseason due to behavior in the history of our league – this most likely will be the season where it happens.
  • We have never had law enforcement called to a game because of a destruction of an umpire’s property – this happened (this past week).
  • We have never thrown parents and/or kids out of the league – this most likely will be the season where it happens.
Not that this was one of those moments but the GHVBL took necessary steps last week to curtail some of the behavior issues plaguing youth sports, including the overall treatment of umpires and poor sportsmanship.

Here’s one additional bullet point from yours truly: Snap out of it as a society or witness the decay of town- and club-sponsored competition and sportsmanship, because the great people running these sports associations can only take so much B.S. before they realize the end will never justify the means if people can’t act civil in public settings and competitions.

“It’s getting worse over time,” GHVBL 9ers Manager and John Jay CR Baseball Coach Teddy Lawrence admitted. “The game we were at the other night was an embarrassment. You’ve got kids and parents swearing at umpires, following them off the field, totally out of control.”

Lawrence played pro ball, picked by the Detroit Tigers out of Mahopac High in the mid-1980s. He’s seen the decline in sportsmanship. He’s seen helicopter parents run amok. Like most of us, he’s appalled by what he sees from time to time. The league issued this urgent alert:

The GHVBL and EBUA are in lockstep in our passionate view that our Code of Conduct is not just a piece of paper – it is the RULE of the league, and if you, your players or your parents do not agree to the message you are encouraged to make other arrangements for your hosting league – we have reached the end of our rope. Here is our (GHVBL/EBUA) joint plan moving forward.

Beginning today, prior to each game, coaches and umpires will discuss the following:

  1. The actions of some players, coaches and parents have reached unacceptable levels.
  2. Coaches in the GHVBL are responsible for the actions of his or her team’s parents as is explicitly detailed in the league Code of Conduct.
  3. If parents become unruly, the umpire will NOT address the parents but will stop the game and tell the coach to control the parent.
  4. If it happens again, the umpire will stop the game and walk over to the dugout and tell the coach to control the parents or the game will be over.
  5. If it happens again, the offending team will forfeit the game.
  6. Zero-tolerance policy on cursing. No warnings, no looking the other way. If a player, coach or spectator curses at an umpire, they are ejected and will be suspended for the following game.
  7. If a coach or player starts complaining about balls and strikes, they are to be stopped the very first time with a warning to immediately stop. If they do it again, restrict to the bench for the rest of the game. If it should happen again, EJECT offender and tell them to leave the park. If offender doesn’t leave, don’t argue just tell coaches the game is forfeited.
(Left to right) Dominic Perricone, Jake Polito, Anthony Perricone and Matt Klee were ferocious foes on the field while at Mahopac and Somers but best of buddies in the kitchen at last week’s Block & Tackle Camp in Somers where sportsmanship is always addressed and stressed among neighboring schools.

Umpires will utilize their judgment and the rules above may be accelerated depending on the situation – be warned – there is VERY LITTLE PATIENCE FOR DISRESPECT OF OUR UMPIRES.

“For most of you, this is a simple reminder that the GHVBL is not immune to the troubling behavior in youth travel sports – but make no mistake – we will not tolerate it,” Zaslaw, a patient man, but one clearly at the end of his rope, concluded.

So I ask, y’all, what have we become? To which depths shall we dive before we hit rock bottom? This is gonna suck to admit, but it appears a bottomless pit, with no end in sight. There are terrific men and women within this GHVBL and other organizations breaking their stones to make summer leagues happen for the good of our kids, and yet, we’ve got some hammerheads treating it like a summer fling we’ll never see again.

It’s tough enough for school districts to keep things in check with paid security members on staff, so imagine what it’s like when Uncle Louie is keeping players and parents in line on a town-owned facility while his brother manages the club in a setting where we rely on self-policing #RecipeForDisaster.

Parents have to stop living vicariously through their children. We see a hint of promise from our first born to our last, and we’re all in on that scholarship dream, whether it’s sensible or not, since less than 10 percent are actually offered.

We need to hold our kids accountable and stop making excuses for the kind of heinous behavior we’re hearing about in all youth sports, not just the GHVBL.

I recently heard a player whine about the conditions of an otherwise pristine baseball field – that had sucked up to eight inches of rain the days before – because he cut his elbow on the slide going into second base. What he should have thought while he was getting his Band-Aid was maybe next time I slide, I don’t drop my elbow at such an extreme angle where I might strip a layer or two of skin, or how about #Sh!+Happens! Let me pipe down and play!

Ya see, everyone’s blaming everyone else these days, instead of holding one another to account. Well, Direct Rays is YOUR accounts receivable, and I’m here to beg the coaches, athletes, their parents – and even their grandparents (trust me, I know one) – to toe the line and respect each other like we swore we would back in 2020 when the COVID pandemic deprived us of social gatherings and sports altogether.

If I had a dollar for every time someone said, “Please, Lord, let us get back to normal, so the kids can play again and I’ll never argue a call,” I’d be pretty well off by now. But some of us went right back to being our old pissy self, chirping disrespect from dugouts, cussing umpires on and off the field and making it all about you because you dropped a grand for your kid to play summer ball, which entitles you to aggressively shout down umpires and ignore proper social cues.

One day, this baseball eutopia of the GHVBL will be gone, and we’ll have to wait a long time before the next willing sap comes along to soak this crap up.

“Said simply, I want the GHVBL to be a part of the solution in youth travel sports, not part of the problem, so we are facing it head on,” Zaslaw stated Sunday after the league played 140 Saturday games without incident. “The EBUA is a great partner in our league, President Tom Kienzle and I are steadfast in the support of our umpires – we will remove any/all participants that don’t share this respect for our men and women that officiate our games. Make no mistake, the number of incidents is a very small percentage of the participants and the vast majority of coaches, players, and spectators are model citizens. This note was intended to reach those that approach and go over the line. Unfortunately, the few that break our code of conduct are the ones we highlight – but if that helps remind all of us to keep our poise and professionalism between the lines, then we are ok with it.”

Makes a ton of sense to me! But I’m not the problem.

The GHVBL Code of Conduct is available at

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