Baseball's All Star season is in full swing. Little league teams, having completed their seasons, created teams of their finest 11-12 year old players to begin competing for the Little League World Series. Major League Baseball's superstars battled it out for the top distinction. Amongst all this celebration, a little league playoff game in Georgia went awry when parents decided to begin slugging it out themselves.
Caught on video, men of all ages and races are seen throwing punches and wrestling to the ground on the sidelines . Children are heard calling "Dad, let's go," "Stop it, guys," and "Dad, Dad, Dad" as dozens of men find themselves on top of each other with an audience of their family, friends and kids.
I spent last week watching my son and his teammates in our District 64 Little League tournament for the very same age group. Night after night these 11-12 year old boys played their hardest, despite being in the losers bracket. Their sixth game in a row found them playing their rival local team; kids that have been friends since preschool and parents who drive carpools together were on opposite sides of the fence. My son and nephew were even on opposing teams. And everyone got along, even though one team went home the loser.
What makes this Georgia baseball brawl so disturbing is the lack of courtesy shown to the players. Majors little league is a tough group - kids are all different sizes and abilities. Some have supreme confidence, others quiver as they stand before that 75-mile-an-hour fastball whizzing at their face. Some kids excel at home runs, others at bunting. Kids spend time on the bench or in the field, but each one is excited about winning.
And despite their young age, I didn't see or hear one snide remark from a coach or a player. I heard the American League parents cheering for my National League son as he stole home. I saw National League parents clap for my American League nephew as he slammed a line drive double to left field, sending home two runners. What I saw was respect for the game and for the commitment these young men and women have made to their sport.
The Georgia parents involved in the fist fight deserved to be arrested; sadly, only two were handcuffed at the field. They should have heeded the calls for "setting an example," "show some class," and "be grownups, guys" that came from the crowd. They should have listened to the words sung at the start of every game, and shown some respect for their children.
They should have taken a lesson from our little league players, who showed up the next night to cheer on my son's team despite having lost to them the night before. Simply showing up is much more powerful than simply shoving your opinion into someone's face. Be grownups, guys.