The fields at the Athens Sportsplex might be empty for now, but it won't be long before they will be full of children playing baseball, softball and soccer.
Signups for those Athens Parks and Recreation sports are ongoing through July, and it won't be long before the season begins. Parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles will be spending a lot of time at the fields watching their favorite player play ball.
For hundreds of children in Athens and Limestone County, youth sports are a fun way to pass the time, make memories with friends and make some new friends in the process.
I still remember my days playing Little League Baseball. I wasn't a very good baseball player by any means, but the memories I made during those years are still with me. I still look back on those times with fondness.
That's what youth sports are all about. It's not about wins and losses, especially at the recreational level. It's about the kids having fun and a positive experience. That seems to be lost sometimes by parents who believe every game is a life-or-death situation.
About a month ago, there was a brawl at a baseball game in Colorado. Police had to be called as an argument between parents and the umpire spilled into a fight that caused the league to cancel the rest of the team's season.
Oh by the way, it was a 7-year-old baseball game. The umpire who the parents were screaming at was 13 years old.
It's a sad state of affairs when 7-year-olds can't even play a baseball game without idiotic parents ruining the experience for them. How many of those kids can really have fun playing a game when hot-headed parents are screaming at the umpire and getting in fights? It would seem to take the stress level up a few notches.
Fortunately, extreme examples of poor behavior in youth sports such as that are few and far between. However, bad behavior does creep up from time to time, and there frankly is no place for it in the game.
I am not casting stones without pointing some blame at myself. I admit, I have been guilty of yelling at the referee during one of my daughter's soccer games. But afterwards, I was embarrassed and realized it did nothing to help her or the team. As a matter of fact, it probably made her wish I had not come to the game.
Youth sports are about teaching children not only the game, but lessons that sports can teach. Lessons like teamwork, working together to achieve a goal, respecting the authority of a coach or game official and dealing with failure.
There are so many positives to take from playing a sport. It is a shame some people have to ruin that because they think wins and losses are the only thing that matter.
So this fall, when you go out to the ballfield to watch your little one play a game, remember that is is only a game. The memories he or she will make will last a lifetime. Let's make sure they are good memories.
— Edwards can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.