The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

June 20, 2013

Youth leagues try to rein in 'bad news parents'

BUFFALO GROVE, Ill. (AP) — No parent here has rushed onto a playing field to jump a referee who made an unpopular call. No adult has gotten angry and slugged or pushed a coach or a young player, as has happened elsewhere. Nor have there been any of those embarrassing sideline brawls you sometimes see posted on online video sites.

At least nobody's admitting to it.

Still, parent behavior in this quiet suburb north of Chicago has been questionable enough to cause the park district officials to post new signs at ball fields with what you might call ... a few gentle reminders.

"This is a game being played by children," the signs in the Buffalo Grove Park District begin, with the words "game" and "children" highlighted in bold letters. "If they win or lose every game of the season, it will not impact what college they attend or their future potential income.."

The campaign, which began this month, is relatively low-key. You might not even notice the small blue signs if you weren't standing right by them. But they speak to a growing movement in youth sports — aimed at reining in parents who, many say, are too involved, too competitive and in need of a little perspective.

"I just want to get back to what I was brought up with as a child — and that's, 'Let the kids play,'" says Dan Schimmel, the park district's executive director.

Elsewhere, some youth sports leagues are requiring parents to sign codes of conduct or recite pledges before games, promising in front of their children that they'll behave. If they slip up, they might be pulled aside for a conversation or kicked out of a game if a warning does no good.

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