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Don’t break up a kids’ game fight — it just leads to more fights

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You may or may not have already some version of the above video, which features coaches from two Pearland, Texas, youth football teams (you can tell it’s Texas because the preteens are playing on a pro-quality field) brawling during a game.

The report I’ve linked mentions that the brawl started after a coach stepped onto the field to break up a scuffle involving two players. So why did one coach trying to make peace start a fight involving other coaches?

Maybe the answer — which is not apparent on video — comes from a story a friend told me about his then 8-year-old son’s soccer team.

Like in the Texas football game, two kids collided, and they came up pushing and shoving. A coach stepped out to break it up. And almost immediately, the parent of one of the kids swung the coach around and angrily shouted at him, “Don’t you EVER touch my child AGAIN!”

Fortunately for all involved, that was the end of that whole series of unfortunate incidents. But as you can see from the video, things can get amped up pretty quickly when an adult steps into a place that some other adult — whether it’s a parent or another coach — feels he or she should not be. It’s “just” a kids’ game, but the combination of people’s competitive natures and, yes, their desire to protect their children can go very, very wrong.

I’m being only half-facetious with the title of this post. It would seem against all instincts to not break up a kids’ fight at a game. If there’s a referee, it might be best to let that person handle it at first — after all, that’s part of the reason a referee is there. But if you do try to break up a fight, keep your head up. And know that if things go wrong, you’ll end up like this video, with the kids stepping in to try to break up the fight between adults.

Written by rkcookjr

October 1, 2010 at 3:36 pm

Despite recession, the kids' games go on

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Definition of  a city in trouble: people come to your town to do pieces where they express amazement your kids are still playing youth sports and doing things besides foraging through trash bins for sustenance.

ESPN’s Outside the Lines is doing this in Janesville and Beliot, Wisc., hit hard by industrial cutbacks, including reports by Mark Fainaru-Wada, he of Barry Bonds-BALCO-“Game of Shadows” fame, on Beloit youth baseball and the effort to raise money for a Janesville youth baseball complex.

I can’t be too flip about this idea and effort. I did the same a month ago in Elkhart, Ind., for’s “The Elkhart Project,” which is devoted to a city that, thanks to the RV industry hitting a brick wall in this economy, went from 5 percent to nearly 20 percent unemployment in about six months. My story, I am told, is due to come this week, and it will get into why youth sports seems to be unaffected by the recession — why, in fact, it seems to be strenghtening kids’ sports — but also why that might not be able to last in some particularly hard-hit areas, no matter how much the parents try.

Like I’m sure the ESPN folks discovered in southern Wisconsin, the resolve of the people in Elkhart against a stunning economic turnaround is inspiring. You come to realize that despite the nuttiness you hear so often about sports parenting, the vast, vast majority of parents look at sports at something that can be a positive influence on their kids for whatever they do in life — with the full understanding what they will do is not going to be sports. It explains why youth sports is one of the last things a family will give up when times are tight.