About this time of year, we annually look at parent and coach behavior on baseball and softball fields across the North Country in a very unscientific way: the eyes and ears of news staff, freelancers and newspaper retirees.
We’ve come to the conclusion that it has generally improved this season. We’re opined on this page often about the poor behavior of coaches and interested bystanders, oftentimes illustrating poor manners of some of them both here and across the country.
And we’ve asked that parents and coaches be tolerant of youth players and 14-year-old umpires that are learning the fundamentals of baseball/softball while on the job.
For the most part, the adults have chilled out. They’ve become player supporters and cheerleaders instead of purveyors of vitriolic comments to the kids and the umpires. And it shows. The kids, playing in either 7-10 or 11-12 age divisions, learn and perform better when given positive reinforcement by parents and coaches.
There have been exceptions, however. Some coaches still holler at kids who don’t perform as well as their peers. And when that occurs, the youth player is very obviously hurt by the stinging comments, lowering his or her head like a puppy being scolded for having an accident. That’s unacceptable and intolerable by all standards of social behavior.
However, there’s one untoward incident that sticks out and overshadows an otherwise better season for parents and the kids.
It occurred at Lapham Mills Recreation Park in Peru a couple weekends ago during a baseball tournament for teams across the region, from Knapp Station to Queensbury to Montreal. Teams of 9- and 10-year-olds and those 11 to 12 vied in a two-day competition for the honor of being named tournament champs.
Two parents from Ticonderoga, observing the younger division of a Ti team, became enraged when an umpire’s call went against their kids. A woman jumped out of her chair, screaming at the umpires. Her behavior gave other bystanders the idea that she was ready to jump over the fence separating the playing field from the parents to vent her displeasure.
She was asked to calm down by the opposing third-base coach. But she proceeded to aim her vitriol at him. It was only after a Ticonderoga coach asked the women to be less vocal that she became so. A man standing at the backstop near home plate was also extremely loud and vocal, another screamer. He quieted when the Ti coach intervened.
It was some of the worst behavior we’ve ever observed. Those two adults embarrassed themselves and their charges.
Parents and coaches, there’s still room for improvement.