As a youth whenever I left the house my mom, dad, aunt, grandma or grandpa (whoever was my guardian at the time) would tell me to “Behave yourself!”
I was usually going to play a sport whether it was an organized game or practice (the ones where adults ruined the fun) or just to play at a park or sandlot. (In Hawthorne there were plenty of parks and in Manhattan Beach there were plenty of real sandlots.) In the real fun games (the ones without the adults), arguments and at time fights often broke out.
In basketball season the winners stayed on the court and played the next game, and the losers had to get back in line. During baseball season the same was true. We played over-the-line, home run derby or a game called socko, which was a combination of over-the–line and baseball. On close plays or close calls there was seldom a mutual agreement. Since winning was important, quarrels often were a part of the game. Nothing was taken as personal and after the call was settled (usually with a do-over) no grudges were held.
That was not always the case at the games where adults were involved. I remember playing in games where adults were yelling at each other, the officials, and the coaches over the games we were playing. They, too, often got into fights—or was it too often got into fights. Same thing! They yelled at one another, the officials, and the coaches and then told us to respect adults. I didn’t know the definition of the word hypocrisy then.
After the games the kids would be friends and go play pickle, two on two, over-the-line, or our version of seven on seven, get into arguments, settle the arguments, and have fun. The adults would continue their arguments and never seem to have any fun.
We had all volunteer umpires, officials, and referees. They never had any peace. The adults took the close calls as personal and held grudges. The kids figured that close calls were just part of the game. The kids didn’t hold grudges.
Now that I am a senior citizen (most insist that I have yet to grow up), things have not changed much. I go to games. The kids play the games, shake hands after the games, and go on with their lives. Some of the adults still yell at other adults, the officials, the coaches during games and then won’t let it go after the games.
I have noticed some common factors about the adults who yell and complain the most. I have lived in Ramona so long that I can remember many of the adults when they were playing the games and their parents were yelling.
Most of the yellers think that denial is a river in Africa. They have to blame someone for their kids’ or their kids’ teams’ shortcomings. Lack of talent is never mentioned for a reason for losing a game or a bad play. It is always the coach’s or the official’s fault that their team and kids are not successful.
They are conspiracy theory exponents. Not the JFK, MLK, RFK or 911 conspiracy theories. They believe that all of the officials in the world have a conspiracy against their kids and their kids’ teams.
They don’t understand that if a team has a losing record it is not always because the officials always conspire to cheat the team. They don’t understand that if a team loses most of its games that it is not always the coach’s fault. They don’t understand that if their kid has always been on a losing team or on the bench that it is not always because of the officials or the coaches. They don’t understand genetics.
The high school season is about to begin. Go to a game, any game, any sport, any level. Don’t watch the game. Don’t listen to the announcer. Watch the stands. Listen to the “adults” in the stands.
Go to both stands. The winners will be the ones cheering for their kids, supporting the coaches, and living with the officials’ calls.
The losers will be yelling at the officials on every call or every non-call. In football some genius will be yelling such intelligent comments as, “They were holding on that play!” There is holding on every play by both teams. “That pass was not catchable so you can’t call interference.” There is no such rule in high school or college football. That is a pro rule.
After an interception or fumble some genius will yell, “Nice call coach!” or “My kid was open.” Not many coaches have ever told a kid to throw an interception or told a kid to fumble.
Even the winning teams have some losers in the stands. After 10 completions some genius will yell, “The quarterback always throws to the same guys.” Quarterbacks are coached to throw to the players who are open and who can catch.
During a basketball game after a kid has hit on five 3-point shots or a center has scored five straight baskets some genius will yell, “He is a ball hog. Let somebody else shoot. Spread the ball around.”
One can learn a lot listening to the geniuses in the stands. Unfortunately, one learns what not to say or how not to act.
Listen to the geniuses but don’t say anything to the geniuses or about the geniuses. It won’t do any good.
Let them have their say. They are not there to support the team or their kid. They are there to draw attention to themselves. They don’t have much of a life.