Crazy eye of the beholder
It would seem that most crazy-parents stories are pretty standard — parent does something inappropriate at a game, gets tossed out or arrested, and we cry about, as our most recent former president might have put it, what our children is learning.
Except that it’s not always so cut-and-dried.
For example, the arrest of one Christopher Paquette of Attleboro, Mass., for popping off and refusing to leave, when asked, a fifth- and sixth-grade girls’ basketball game. He’s charged with disorderly conduct after allegedly yelling and swearing after refusing to leave the gym where his 10-year-old daughter was playing. The police said he yelled at a ref, who told him to leave, and yet Paquette, a recently laid off dry-wall construction worker and father of six, did not, even when police came to shoo him way.
On the surface, it sounds like another parents gone wild. Certainly, that’s how the local newspaper saw it on its editorial page.
Yet Paquette says he yelled something about the refs, and that he walked away and stood at the entrance to the gym because he didn’t want to leave his 10-year-old daughter behind — and that police overreacted. Some of the comments below this story seem to bear him out, noting that the ref immediately wheeled around and threw him out even though Paquette did not address him directly. Let’s put it this way: the Attleboro police don’t seem to be popular around, oh, Attleboro.
So who’s right?
I wasn’t there, so I’ll say this: if you busted every parent who made a comment about the refereeing, you would empty the stands in a hurry. Is that right for parents to say something? There are limits, but you can’t expect people watching their offspring, their blood, their reason for living, to be comment-free during the game. It would be great if they watched and only thought positive thoughts, but that’s unreasonable to expect. Heck, today at my son’s seventh- and eighth-grade coed rec league game (they needed sixth-graders to fill out the rosters), the opposing coach was getting ooh-aah and googly-eyed about every call. Personally, I would have liked to kick him out of the gym because he was acting like such an overweening jerk, but I’m not sure the court system needs to get involved.
We all want a positive environment at games, or at least an environment that doesn’t seem to have the undercurrent of quick and certain fisticuffs. Paquette or any parent — or coach — doesn’t need to worry about the refs (unless they are allowing rough and dangerous play). But letting off a little steam or even being a jerk is not a crime. I would rather save police involvement for something a little more serious.