Positive adult attitudes help

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 5, 2000

rec league kids have fun


Sports Editor

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

April 4, 2000 11 PM

Sometimes a parent’s desire for a child to succeed can get out of hand and nowhere is that more obvious than when said child is taking part in a youth sport.

As the Troy Park and Recreation director, Dan Smith knows full well how such a parent, coach or even an official can tarnish the entire concept of a Rec League sport. To hold such unfortunate events at bay Smith and his staff are constantly trying to stay on top of the latest techniques for providing a better environment for all those participating.

Recently a similar Park and Rec group in Jupiter, Fla., took a large step towards rectifying such instances.

With the assistance of the Parents Association for Youth Sports, or PAYS, Jupiter is now using a program that requires any parent whose child wants to participate in Rec sports to attend a special assembly and sign a form that states they will conduct themselves in a professional manner while attending these events.

"They had a history of violence between fans, umpires and coaches," Smith said recently. "It was just a three-way triangle in which behavior had just gotten out of hand.

"What it amounted to was a sort of oath taken by the parents," he continued. "If they did not sign or they didn’t come to the meeting then their child does not play ball. What they are obviously trying to accomplish, in Jupiter and other cities around the nation, is an understanding and an education to the parents that youth athletics is entertainment and recreation for youngsters. It is supposed to be fun and when people let their behavior get out of hand then that takes the fun out of ii for the children."

While Smith says that Troy Park and Recreation will not be adopting the PAYS plan any time soon, he and his staff like to make sure that people understand their position..

"While we are not asking parents to sign any forms here in Troy and will not this year, we expect them to maintain a positive approach to every event," Smith said. "It’s a privilege for them to be able to attend. They can be asked to leave and will be if their behavior is disruptive. I really hope that we don’t have to, but I think what we’re doing right now is preventive maintenance.

"We’re trying to let people know and be aware that behavior among fans and parents is as important to us as how the coaches and umpires conduct themselves," he continued. "We expect everything to be professional and first class in everything we do."

The main objective of any youth rec league is to provide a positive athletic experience for youngsters. Smith says a good way to know when things are going wrong is when it ceases to be fun for the children.

"In Troy I have heard in conversations this year that some children won’t be playing this year because it’s just not fun anymore," Smith said. "To me, as recreation director, that is very unfortunate that a game is not fun for a child. It may not have anything to do with the coach or parents and umpires. But if it’s a situation where any of the three are putting too much pressure on the kids and taking the fun out of it, then that is unacceptable to us.

"We are fortunate that we have a very successful youth program in Troy because of the efforts of the adults, parents, coaches and umpires," Smith added. "It has taken many years for us to get where we are today and that is mainly because of the contributions by all of them. What we are trying to do now is simply improve upon what we are already doing."