This sign was posted in front of stands at the Little League park in Maryland where my son played a tournament this weekend. If only I had seen it before I wrote about cretinous baseball parents a month ago. The sign is like a Dante's Inferno for Little League parental sins, perfectly capturing the loutish behavior in order of severity:
1) These Are Kids: When parents yell and pout, they turn a sport where kids can learn good qualities—grit and skill and good sportsmanship—into an indelible lesson in the worst quality: losing your cool over small things.
2) This Is a Game: Your public outbursts turn something that should be fun into the opposite. This isn't just a sin against baseball, it ruins the experience for kids. The great joy of the game comes when you are encased in it completely. It is your world. Boo to the parent who punctures that bubble because he can't control himself.
3) Coaches Are Volunteers: Coaches are doing this out of the goodness of their hearts—so give them a break, they're not professionals. Also: They have sacrificed to create something; don't arrive at the last minute and ruin it with your selfishness.
4) Umpires Are Human: They're fallible, like the rest of us. They're also almost certainly not getting paid very much.
5) You Do Not Play for the Orioles: This is a warning against general blowhardism. Just be quiet with your thousands of opinions.
Not only does this sign keep people from misbehaving, it gives everyone a structure to shun the fellow who steps out of line. And step out of line he will.
The laws of the sign notwithstanding, the head umpire had to admonish two different parents during one of my son’s games—one for yelling at the coach, and one for an outburst after a pitch a father thought was a strike was called the other way. "Do that again and you'll be enjoying the rest of the game from your car," the umpire said to one of the fathers, who fortunately was not me.