Archive for Wednesday, October 2, 2002

Opinion: Another senseless act

October 2, 2002

A fan booing and harassing referees, umpires, coaches and players is nothing new. There are times when coaches and players run for cover to elude projectiles coming from the grandstands.

That kind of behavior is inexcusable. Yet, it has become a part of sports culture. There are the occasional fisticuffs between fans, and between players, however, this aggression has taken a turn for the worst, trickling down from the professional and college ranks to high school and youth league sports.

You always had that one parent who couldn't shut up during a game yelling at officials, and unfortunately at their child. But in the past decade, we've seen parents' anger escalate to violence.

Royals' first base coach Tom Gamboa was attacked Sept. 19 by a father and son who jumped onto the field at Comiskey Park in Chicago. The father said Gamboa made a crude gesture to him.

Police say the father was intoxicated and there is no evidence Gamboa did anything to provoke the attack. However, the son was not intoxicated, he was following his father's lead.

Then we had Kansas University coach Mark Mangino verbally assault a referee at his son's high school football game. Although he apologized, Mangino of all people ought to know better. .

There was the father who was recently convicted of manslaughter when he beat another father to death after a youth hockey practice.

We could say these are isolated incidents; it won't happen here. But it can happen anywhere and it happens more often than we think.

Basehor-Linwood High School freshman football coach Travis Scwartz was attacked by a player's father and grandfather Monday. The two men allegedly were upset at Swartz for reprimanding the boy during the football game. They approached Scwartz as he walked to the locker room and a fight erupted. The men have now been charged in Basehor Municipal Court with assaulting a school official and disorderly conduct.

Some parents are kind, sociable people outside of the stands, but something happens to them while watching sports. Sometimes their anger is a symptom of being an overprotective parent, and sometimes it's a much deeper psychological or social problem.

Whatever the explanation may be, the message to our children is the same: When we're angry, we lash out. When someone looks at you the wrong way, attack him. When we don't get our way, get even. When we're at fault, blame others.

Parents and fans alike can be upset with an official's or a coach's decision on the playing field, but when fans or parents use violence at a sporting event something is seriously wrong.

Children usually get involved in sports because they want to participate in a fun activity or be with their friends. Most parents like their children involved in sports because of the structure and life lessons their sons and daughters can learn.

It's a sad reflection on society when children are trying to grow up through participating in sports, but the ones watching the game won't grow up.

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