Your Kid’s Not Going Pro

A Youth Sports Blog

Archive for February 15th, 2010

Sixth-grade basketball league commissioner gets a beatdown

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“You can usually get people aside and let them vent a bit. Then they usually realize, ‘What am I doing here?’”

Those are the words of Jeff Shand, commissioner of the Burnsville Athletic Club’s in-house basketball league in suburban Minneapolis-St. Paul, describing the crazy parents that he deals with from time to time in his gig. I know the feeling.

I had a mother in my fifth- and sixth-grade coed league that, ahem, had a few differences of opinion with my methods of coaching, particularly the method in which I didn’t play her son every minute of every game. That, ahem, conversation climaxed — on the first word — with her screaming obscenities at me out front of the gym. I’ve never seen everyone stop at once in the parking lot and stare with big kitty saucer eyes like that before or since. But after a little while, she calmed down, and we were able to have a civil conversation. Sometimes a parent just gets frustrated in the heat of the moment, and as long as you, as Shand advises, let them vent, it won’t be pretty, but it will end well.

Alas, Shand’s comment to the the Star-Tribune of Minneapolis came after an incident that did not start OR end well, according to police.

A youth basketball commissioner was assaulted by a dad and possibly another person at a sixth-graders’ game over the weekend in a dispute over officiating at the end of overtime, according to the league and police.

Jeff Shand, 50, had his jaw dislocated, suffered a concussion and has dental damage from the attack immediately after a tournament game Saturday at Burnsville High School, according to Rich Hardegger, an assistant commissioner for Burnsville boys’ in-house basketball.

A 48-year-old man from Minneapolis was subdued after being kicked in the groin by one man and then tackled by several adults, said police Sgt. Jef Behnken. The man was arrested, booked in jail and then released on his own recognizance, Behnken said. …

Behnken said the dad hit the commissioner, but Shand said it was a teenager or man in his early 20s who “sucker-punched” him from behind. Shand said the dad had thrown a basketball at him.

Behnken said authorities are looking for another suspect, a 15-year-old boy.

This kind of stuff never happens to David Stern. (Video of the altercation is here. Fox 9 in Minneapolis identifies the alleged assailant as Robin Johnson, and that he, his family — including his son who played that day — are banned from the Burnsville league.)

Nicole Lavoi at One Sport Voice, which gets the hat tip for this article, said in her research as a psychology and sports sociology professor at the University of Minnesota, the so-called “Background Anger” at youth sports events comes from two things: perceptions of injustice and perceptions of incompetence. In other words, you fucked over my kid because you were so stupid.

Thankfully, few parents take their anger to such a violent level. The problem is, you never know who is capable of getting this upset, and when it will manifest itself in such extreme ways. As Shand put it: “The only people we can’t do background checks on are the parents.”

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