It’s still hard to believe that a 17-year-old soccer goalie – apparently upset by being tagged with a yellow card in a soccer match – was so incensed that he went up to the unsuspecting ref and punched him hard enough in the head to kill him.
But of course, that’s exactly what happened in Utah a couple of weeks ago. The boy is now facing some serious charges.
And then a few weeks earlier, in a soccer match in the Netherland, a group of 16-and 17-year old players, angry with an offside call during the match, waited until the game was over, and then beat and kicked the ref until he died. Those kids are now waiting to go on trial.
For years, we have seen angry parents and out-of-control coaches attack and assault refs, umpires, and officials – in effect, grown-ups being violent. But now we’re seeing kids take out their frustrations in a physical manner, and to me, that’s a new and most alarming trend.
Lots of callers on the show this AM had excellent points about this trend. Most pointed out that kids today are overly coddled by Moms and Dads who do their best not to have their kids deal with the inevitable frustrations and disappointments that come in sports. As a result, when kids run into unexpected setbacks, kids look to the sidelines for direction, only to see crazed parents screaming and nutty coaches doing the same. It doesn’t take much for a kid to pick up on those cues, and find themselves on the attack.
Some suggestions: Moms and Dads and Coaches, take the time to explain to kids how to behave when it comes to failure and frustration. Let them know that all sporting competitions have both winners and losers, and knowing to cope with losing is very, very tough. Remind them that the other team wants just as desperately to win, and that sometimes, on that given day, the other team will actually play better.
In addition, don’t try so hard to protect your kids from the ups-and-downs of sports. The sooner they understand that losing is just as common as winning, they will be on their way to becoming better athletes. And better citizens.