Street Talk: Should

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 11, 2002

abusive fans be punished?


Staff Writer

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Throughout the country violent outbreaks, verbal and physical, have become commonplace at youth sporting events.

Many factors are involved, or blamed for the outbreaks, such as stressful society, competitive rivalries, increased participation, and parents who live through their children.

National youth sports associations said they receive reports weekly about fights or abusive conduct involving parents or coaches.

In July of 2000, a Massachusetts hockey referee died following a fight with a player’s father. The boy’s father has pleaded innocent to manslaughter.

Some youth athletic league officials are trying to head off violence and poor sportsmanship.

Soccer league officials near Cleveland held a slate of games where no parental noise was permitted, not even cheering, in an effort to stop verbal abuse.

The Jupiter/Tequesta Athletic Association in Palm Beach County makes parents attend a sportsmanship seminar. The league, which sponsors basketball, soccer, football, softball and baseball leagues for 6,000 children, also makes its parents sign a code of ethics before their child can play.

This week’s Street Talk question was: "Should there be laws imposing harsher penalties than are customary under law against adults who are either physically or verbally abusive against coaches, referees, umpires and other officials associated with youth recreational activities to discourage inappropriate behavior in front of children?"

Archer Rogers doesn’t think there should be any laws.

"No, I don’t think there should be laws," said Archer. "There are enough laws as it is. There needs to be better behavior on the part of the parents and that doesn’t come from legislation, it comes from upbringing. You cannot legislate behavior or morals."

Kent Robertson thinks there should be laws that would make adults behave at sporting events.

"I think so," said Robertson. "It seems like they get away with too much and it projects an unfavorable light on kids that are trying to have a good time playing sports."

Milliette Carter believes there should be stricter punishment for parents who are disruptive.

"Yes, because a lot of adults forget it’s a game, its recreational, its supposed to be fun," said Carter. "A lot of parents put too much pressure on kids. They take the fun out of it for their kids."

Lena Boswell thinks the child should be punished for the parents actions, thereby punishing the parent.

"The child should not be allowed to participate and should be banned from the game if the parents act up," said Boswell. "If the parent thinks their child will be punished for their actions, then they will be more likely to behave."

To register your opinion online about adult behavior at children’s sporting events, go to