Coaches need to set example for players



From the sidelines


Photo by James Perkins
Auburn High School will unveil a new helmet this football season. The program has added white stripes to its traditional blue helmet.

In the past month, I have seen two girls’ softball situations that have taken me aback. I had the honor to travel to Lunenburg two weeks ago to watch the local district champion 9-10 year-old team from Christiansburg as they played in the state tournament.

This was the first time a team that young from Christiansburg had advanced that far, but you have to remember these again 9-10 year old little girls. They played their hearts out and were facing a team from another part of the state.

I will never criticize an umpire, but I will criticize a coach or two when they are absolutely wrong. There was a close play at first base in the first inning and the infielder from Christiansburg stretched, caught the ball and the umpire ruled the runner out.

The first base coach from the other team then proceeded to complain. First, he could not argue the call as in Dixie girls’ softball tournament action any discussion directed to the umpire can only come from the team manager that was standing in the third base coach’s box.

I understand there are disagreements and “debate” on what some end results are. But it is how he continued to argue and protest the close call that bothered me.

This coach, that I will not identify, then struck the bottom of the C-burg player’s foot. The young lady did not know what to do. He argued that her foot was off the bag when she made the catch so he demonstrated by hitting the bottom of the foot that he said was not on the base.

A web cam hanging on the fence caught the action, and parents in the stands could not believe what happened.

Not only did the umpire not eject that particular coach for arguing the call, he was not ejected for striking the young first baseman. At first, he denied the action.

Despite protests from Christiansburg, he remained in the game and continued to argue calls by the two umpires.

After the game, Dixie League and State officials met with all the parties involved in the situation. The other coach admitted to the action when confronted with the video evidence.

He was suspended for only the next game in the tournament. Two days later, that same coach would again be standing in the first base box coaching against Christiansburg. Just his presence was simply wrong.

Dixie State officials should have suspended him from the tournament and playing field. They did not.

The Christiansburg team would lose that game and a 10 year-old girl, playing first base, never received an apology.

Then just a week later, a girls’ team from Atlee, Virginia, was removed from the national championship game after snapchatting themselves shooting the bird in a direct message to a team they had just beaten in a Washington state tournament.

The team of 12-15 year old girls learned sportsmanship the hard way.

First, this is bad sportsmanship. Secondly, it’s an example of bad judgement through social media. You simply cannot rid things from social media that you have posted. In this case, the wrong thing.

Third, this is a sour note again on the coaches of this girls’ softball team.

Where were the adults when the photograph was being taken?

One of the team’s coaches said the other team had harassed his players. Well, then there was another case of bad sportsmanship that started this whole thing, but in no way should the team and even the coaches of the Atlee team turn around and do something that was of bad sportsmanship.

Is this what we are teaching our youngsters when they play youth sports?

I hope that those parents and coaches that might be reading this have a little more respect than what I have seen over the past two weeks.

It is sad that adults act this way, and then allow their children to act this way.

I have to say I am very pleased with the response, or should we say no response, by the parents and coaches from Christiansburg.

In the case of the Atlee team, they were a great team and had only lost one contest in play this year. But that does not mean they should throw out sportsmanship and overall respect and mistreat others.

One act of sportsmanship should not lead to another act of sportsmanship.

I would hope in both of the mentioned cases that their individual recreation departments would take further action.

Neither of them should be ignored. Acts like this should not go unpunished.

There were kids that were not in the picture nor took part in the bad sportsmanship that did not get to play in the title contest, and I hate that for them.

In addition, this action and photograph could come back to negatively impact some of these girls in the future when it comes to possible college scholarships and jobs.

As parents and coaches, we need to set better examples and not let something like this happen. Sportsmanship is a big part of youth sports, and I am ashamed of what I witnessed and then heard about.

I salute the league and tournament officials that took the right step in Washington. Shame on the others in state Dixie play. Maybe, you need reevaluate your own rules and sportsmanship that you practice.