Your Kid’s Not Going Pro

A Youth Sports Blog

When the motherly instinct goes wrong

with 2 comments

The headline says: “Charges filed in Little League brouhaha.” The story appears to be another case of a parent gone wild in a toxic youth sports environment. Me, I see many, many small, bad decisions that escalated to a large, unfortunate case that is going to stain the life of a mother who mistakenly thought she was doing the right thing by sticking up for her child.

pic.phpThe case involves Jodi Scheffler, 41, of Kirkland, Wash., seen at right wearing a very unfortunate hat for her Facebook profile given the circumstances: she’s charged with assaulting a 12-year-old after a Little League game. Here is the story as told by KOMO-TV in Seattle.

The reports say … Scheffler …  left her side of the field and got into an altercation with boys from the visiting team. Name-calling escalated and then Scheffler allegedly grabbed the boy’s face.

Scheffler told Kirkland police that the 12-year-old visiting player was calling her son a loser and taunting him during the game.

Charging papers say she told the boy and his brother to stop talking to her son. They told her to shut up and called her a “dumb blond.” The report says she then called them “white trash,” then allegedly grabbed the boy’s face.

Now the mother of the 12-year-old boy, Michelle McLaughlin, is furious and speaking out.

“He’s scared,” McLaughlin says. “He asks me every day we play a game, ‘Is she gonna be there? Is she gonna hit me?'”

But Scheffler told police that McLaughlin’s husband chest-butted her.

“According to witnesses, the only thing my husband did was yelling at her from 30 feet away to get away from my kids – and charged up to her, asking her politely to go away, ‘Back up, get away from my kids,'” says McLaughlin. “But as far as the chest-butting – that’s a lie.”

No charges have been filed against McLaughlin’s husband. She says she’s the one who decided to file charges against Scheffler.

“Maybe she’ll learn to keep her anger to herself,” McLaughlin says.

The Little League president calls this an unfortunate incident. Longtime coaches, meanwhile, say they haven’t seen anything like it.

Some parents feel the whole thing is being blown out of proportion. But Scheffler faces a year in jail if she’s convicted.

I wasn’t there, but I think, from my informed-enough-to-be-dangerous knowledge of sports parent-child interactions, what mistakes might have been made along the way to turn this game into a brouhaha. Or maybe it’s more like a row. Or a set-to. Maybe a melee.

The first one was made by Scheffler, of course. I know it stinks to watch little brats trash your baby. The parents should have taught their children to be respectful, and the coaches should have tried to stop the trash-talking (maybe they did — the story doesn’t say). Even after she confronted the boys, that’s pretty ballsy of 12-year-olds to call a grown woman a “dumb blond.”

But no adult should never, never, never, never, never, never, ever, ever, ever, ever, confront someone else’s kid before, during or after a game. As a parent, you can (calmly) talk to your own coach. You can talk to the league vice president or president. But there’s no point in jumping on someone else’s kid, or even the opposing coach, in the heat of the moment. If you’re that upset, better to just pack you stuff and go home. The 24-hour rule applies. Otherwise, you risk making an ass out of yourself, embarrassing your child, and risking assault charges.

The second one was made by Michelle McLaughlin. Let’s assume her husband did not chest-bump anyone, though it would be a first for me to see a charged up/ask politely combination. Like Scheffler, it sounds like in this report that McLaughlin could wear a drama queen hat herself. As stupid as it was for Scheffler to do what she did, all McLaughlin needed to do was take her kids and go home. She seems ready to have Scheffler charged just out of spite — “maybe she’ll learn to keep her anger to herself.” Takes one to know one.

I highly doubt Scheffler will face a year in jail. I wouldn’t be shocked if the charges are dropped for something so relatively petty. However the legal case turns out, nobody — not Scheffler, not McLaughlin, not the kids in question — acquitted themselves well. But I’m not going to add my overreaction to the overreaction at hand. The league should ban Scheffler from games, and let players and coaches know they will be ejected from games and/or suspended if taunting continues.

In fact, the league itself should take a closer look at the conduct during its games. I would guess that Jodi Scheffler isn’t the first Little League mom to have the urge to attack when no one was doing anything to protect their kids.

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2 Responses

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  1. I had a coach grab my son at a basketball game and left marks on his neck. My son was 11 at the time. The reason I went to the police and followed through with the complaint was the lack of action taken by the athletic league and lack of responsibility by the coach, who admitted doing it. Could that be the problem here? In my case, the coach should have been removed from his coaching position and not permitted to coach again in the town. The league would not do anything and since his act was one of rage, we felt it necessary to take action that would prevent it from occurring in the future. In the case you describe, the parent that grabbed the kid has similar anger issues. Face it, it is not normal to get into an argument with 12/14 year olds, especially when they are not your children! Could the woman who filed the complaint simply be trying to prevent the aggressor from further acts of rage? Not unreasonable in my book. In addition, although two wrongs do not make a rigth, I can appreciate why the father would have charged towards and perhaps stopped. I have seen that type of behavior and just saw it by a coach in a baseball game. Remember, his kid was just grabbed by another adult. Yes his child should be disciplined as any of us would, but that does not excuse simple assault.

    CJ S

    May 18, 2009 at 10:58 am

  2. This is so sad and a lose lose for all involved. Both teams involved have kids at our local elementary school….where the people who barely have enough resources to teach as it is now have to police this unrelated to school….situation. The McLaughlin boys are being bullied, taunted….called white trash, told their Father cheats on their Mother…so forth. Brats or not, they are 10 and 12. Where was “Team Jodi” when she left her side of the field…why did not one of her supportive friends tell her to take a deep breath and sit her rear end down. No one wants to see their Son strike out, cry, and then be laughed at….but you just have to be the best parent you can be….help them get through it and move on. Screaming at a 10 and 12 year old? Jodi, Jodi…..let’s try to be the grown-ups! Oh wait….we are!

    Sarah

    June 4, 2009 at 11:50 pm


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