A newly released public admonishment of fan misbehavior should come as an embarrassment to those adults responsible for the exodus of Ohio high school coaches and game officials.
In one of the most blunt statements ever released by a public education entity, Jerry Snodgrass, executive director of the Ohio High School Athletic Association, and Karissa Niehoff, executive director of the National Federation of State High School Associations, describe adult misbehavior at games as “epidemic.”
The two cited a recent survey of more than 2,000 high school athletic directors, in which 62.3% said that dealing with aggressive parents and adult fans is the worst part of their jobs.
Imagine: The toughest part of the job is not budgeting, not student injuries, not drugs, but pushing back against bleacher blowhards.
The release, which can be read at OHSAA.org offers six guidelines for fans, which essentially boil down to this:
“It’s a kid’s game. Get a grip.”
The next Baker
The kind of people who would engage in such misbehavior never would read the statement, and even if they did, they would assume it was referring to someone else.
There are parents convinced of a vast conspiracy afoot by game officials and coaches to prevent their kid from becoming the next Baker Mayfield.
Though the statement notes that only 2% of all athletes receive scholarships, the people who are making coaches quit are certain their child is among the gifted, and that if the umps weren’t so blind, everyone could see it.
But it’s not just high school. Consider the adults seen brawling last week at Progressive Field.
Attending a game is a commitment. Aside from the tickets, you must pay - well, overpay - for parking, not to mention the postgame traffic. Then, you must deal with the crowds and pricey concessions, like a $12.50 beer, only to be faced with sharing a public restroom with thousands of strangers, some of whom appear to have been born in a barn.
The fighters caught on video all appeared to be Indians fans, so what could have happened that would make it worth being injured, ejected and arrested?
Well, according to reports, one group of fans was - wait for it - tired of another group being obnoxious and obscene.
What in the world would happen if the Indians don’t make the playoffs?
Someone missed the memo that sports can be beneficial because they offer skills everyone needs in life: Self-discipline, camaraderie and unselfishness.
Once upon a time, kids acquired the same things by organizing their own games. Perhaps the problem of obnoxious adults is an outgrowth of youth sports becoming overly organized, specialized and monetized by adults.
We’re Americans, which means we love winners, so the notion that we put too much emphasis on winning is disingenuous. But clearly a line is being crossed in how adults are reacting when winning isn’t possible.
We aren’t quite at the level of braying for gladiator blood, but we’re on our way.
Such behavior flies in the face of what we tell kids, namely that they must learn to be good sports because no one wins every game.
The OSHAA statement shouldn’t have been necessary, but here we are.
The question is, how did we get here?
Reach Charita at 330-580-8313 or email@example.com. On Twitter: @cgoshayREP.