DEAR ATHLETIC SUPPORT: My son is 7. Remember that — 7 years old. He plays in the local baseball league for kids his age. It’s just a community league, not travel ball or anything like that, but let me tell you, the parents are still crazy! I’ve seen dads climb the fences, little boys crying after games, and moms cussing like sailors from the stands. It’s not just the moms that use foul language, though. A lot of the other parents do, too.
I’m not a fan of all the other wild stuff that goes on around these games, but I really cannot stand the cussing. These are little kids! And the grownups are hollering out nasty words that would get the boys kicked out of elementary school. I just don’t get it.
I don’t know what to do, either. I get so mad I can’t think straight. At the same time, I’m scared of standing up and giving these wacko parents a piece of my mind. My husband keeps telling me it’s just part of the game, that things are different on the baseball field. It means more, or something. But I don’t want my son to have to hear that stuff. We try really hard to watch our mouths around him. We don’t even let him watch PG-13 movies. I just never thought he’d hear such profanity in little league baseball! What should I do?
—Wash Ur Mouth
DEAR MOUTH: If things really are as bad as you’ve made them out, I would remove my son from the league immediately.
There is no excuse for such behavior, and sadly, I think this group of people is too far gone for reform. There’s simply no chance of saving them.
Whoever oversees that league lost control long ago. You don’t want to be the one to instigate the sort of overhaul it would take to get those parents and coaches back on the right path.
It won’t be easy removing your son from the team, either, but it’s the right call. If you’re aware of other parents who feel the same as you do, you might consider reaching out to them privately. Maybe, that way, some of your son’s friends could make the transition to a new team with him.
These days, it seems like there are plenty of youth baseball leagues to choose from. Just do your research before you commit to anything. And if you wind up on a travel team, get ready to do just what the name implies — travel.
DEAR ATHLETIC SUPPORT: We’re deep in the throes of travel baseball season, and I love it! I read your column every week, and most of the time it’s somebody complaining about something. I’m not here to complain; I just have a question. I live in Arkansas, right outside of Little Rock, and every weekend we travel all over the state, and sometimes even outside the state (to places like Oklahoma or even Louisiana) to play in tournaments. I can’t remember the last time we played a tournament right here in Little Rock, and I know why — it’s because we don’t have a quality complex. All these other places we go make Burns Park and the Junior Deputy complex look like bushleague jokes.
What could be the reason behind this? Why are we forced to travel so far for these tournaments when we live near a bigger- than-average city like Little Rock? Surely, there’s money to be made!
—Come on, Little Rock
DEAR LITTLE ROCK: Yes, there is money to be made. A whole bunch.
Let’s say there are 20 teams in a tournament. Each of those teams has at least 10 kids on it. That’s 200 kids — 200 families — flocking into a town for one weekend.
Those families get hotel rooms. They eat at local restaurants. And that’s not even mentioning the money that’s made from the tournament.
Travel league baseball is a booming business, which in some ways makes it an exclusive sport. There are many families who simply cannot afford to play travel league ball. As a result, many young sluggers are denied the chance to craft the skills necessary to play baseball at a higher level.
For this reason — as well as the potential to bring in big bucks — it would be very wise for a city like Little Rock to invest in a new baseball complex. Not only would the city stand to generate revenue, but it would also help open the doors to less-privileged young athletes.
What better deal could you ask for?