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Posts Tagged ‘Sport

Your youth baseball brawl roundup

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It’s playoff season for youth baseball, which means managers, parents and players who act only a little crazy when they get a bug up their butt about something during the regular season now have the stakes raised high enough that the same bug will cause them to go ballistic.

Here are a few highlights:

DODGEVILLE, Wisc., July 26 — The winners of the losers’ bracket in the Ohio Valley Regional is going to the Babe Ruth Senior World Series because of a game-ending brawl between the two teams in the first game of the best-of-three championship.

About the only detail not being argued is that Noblesville (Ind.) came back from three runs down in the sixth inning to lead the Hammond (Ind.) Chiefs, 11-10.  Oh, the only other detail not being argued is that Babe Ruth headquarters in Trenton, N.J., ruled both 16-18-year-old teams out of the tournament. In between, it gets messy.

According to the Noblesville coach, talking to the near-hometown Indianapolis Star, all three Hammond coach freaked the fuck out when the game-leading run was scored on an obstruction call against the Chiefs, and all three got ejected. With no adults left to coach Hammond, the umpires declared Noblesville the winner. The Noblesville coach said the teams lined up to shake hands, and while his team was “excited,” the Hammond team was in a rage, the flames being fanned by one of their coaches. A Chiefs player jumped one of the Noblesville players, and the brawl was on.

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What happened in Dodgeville with the Chiefs, as re-enacted on ice. (NSFW language)

The Hammond coach copped to nothing, and in fact said he was trying to keep the peace and separate players, according to his interview with the near-hometown Northwest Indiana Times in Munster, Ind.

Meanwhile, the Dodgeville police said they arrested one fan on disorderly conduct charges, allegedly because he punched a Noblesville coach.

So congratulations to Cross Plains (Wisc.), which advances to the Babe Ruth Senior World Series for not punching anybody.

VALLEJO, Calif., July 21 — Vallejo Babe Ruth coach David Davis was booked in the local hoosegow on a charge of battery against a sports official. He allegedly punched a first-base umpire during the state 15-and-under championship tournament. Davis was arrested at the local police station as he was filling out an assault report — against the umpire, David Abbitt, a 26-year veteran.

Abbitt said Davis sucker-punched him — knocking him out and requiring him to be taken by ambulance to a hospital — as he argued a close call against the Vallejo team at first base. Davis, meanwhile, citing scratches on his arm he said were made by Abbitt, said he was only defending himself, and that the knockout punch never happened. Davis told the San Jose Mercury News:

[After the umpire kicked him out] Davis then describes a highly emotional situation between the two men, with alleged spitting, swearing, racial epithets and self defense.

“I thought it was a make-up call, so I went down to my knees and came up and he said ‘You’re outta here,'” Davis said, claiming that the knockout punch never happened. “All I did was defend myself. I just put my hands up as a reaction. Guy falls down, looks at me from the ground and puts on a tirade like he was hurt. It was weak and it was fake.”

Apparently there were no police or security at the July 18 game because of cutbacks by the city of Vallejo. After the Davis-Abbitt incident, somehow, some way, security was found for the tournament.

GURNEE, Ill., July 17 — Unlike the other two incidents, this was not a playoff game. But it doesn’t have to be one for tempers to get out of hand.

According to the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill., police were called after a fight broke out a 15- to 18-year-old Colt (Pony League) game. Two opposing players wrestled at the plate — a runner trying to score, and the catcher who tried to block him (without the ball in his hand) during the last out of the game. The umpires did not get involved, and player tempers cooled.

However, parents started screaming and fighting with each other. That’s when police were called. But no arrests were made. The presence of the authorities inspired a lovefest, according to the Herald:

[Gurnee Police Commander Jay] Patrick said the players on both sides hugged as the three cops left the field. The teams were not named.

“It could have really gone south,” Jacobs said. “But when (police) got there, everybody started to calm down quite a bit.”

For an incident like this, that counts as a happy ending.

Written by rkcookjr

July 28, 2010 at 2:00 pm

Cheerleading: not a sport

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Collegiate cheerleaders perform a high splits ...

You're not athletes! (Image via Wikipedia)

That’s not me saying cheerleading isn’t a sport, even if I did type that headline my ownself.

That’s a Connecticut judge, ruling whether Quinnipiac University could count competitive cheerleading as a sport in order to meet requirements under Title IX, the federal law that prevents gender discrimination in educational institutions receiving federal funding. U.S. District Judge Steven Underhill, sitting in Bridgeport, ruled in favor of the school’s former women’s volleyball team, which sued after the school announced it would chop (as well as men’s golf and men’s outdoor track) in favor of competitive cheerleading for 2009-10, a lawsuit that Underhill later expanded to a class-action case.

Actually, the lawsuit looked at all sorts of questions about roster-size manipulation Quinnipiac, in the judge’s mind, made to comply with Title IX, but the headlines are uniformly about how cheerleading is not a sport. And why not, after Underhill made this statement, reported in the Hartford Courant:

“Competitive cheer may, sometime in the future, qualify as a sport under Title IX; today, however, the activity is still too underdeveloped and disorganized to be treated as offering genuine varsity athletic participation opportunities for students.”

The immediate result of this case is that the Fighting Pollsters have 60 days from the July 21 ruling date to get in compliance with Title IX, and specifically must bring back the women’s volleyball team.

However, while Underhill unequivocally declared that cheerleading is not a sport, no matter how much paralysis it has caused, like the current U.S. Supreme Court he made his ruling narrow enough so that everything isn’t 100 percent settled.

After all, Underhill, by saying “sometime in the future” it could qualify as a sport, ruled that cheerleading isn’t a sport not because it’s doesn’t have a ball or stick. It’s because it’s not organized enough.

So I’m thinking the takeaway for those in the cheerleading community — or the public school community — that want sis-boom-bahing declared as a sport would be: Get organized. Start leagues. Have conference championships. Get to the point where people are playing football on the sidelines to fire up the crowd into rooting harder for the cheerleaders.

Dad sues after his kid hit by a pitch — why, yes, the dad IS a lawyer

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I’m not knee-jerk about taking the opposite position when everyone else is decrying something as another brick in the wall that is the pussification of youth sports. And it’s pretty easy to jump on a lawyer who sues over his son getting hit by a pitch, especially because he wasn’t there to see what happened.

On the other hand, if there is no other mechanism to punish coaches who intentionally call on their players to hurt the opponent in the name of competition, in flagrant violation of the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of the Child, then a lawsuit there must be. In the major leagues, players and managers get kicked out games and fined for throwing at players, so why should there be no repercussions in youth baseball?

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So often, a violent act such as intentionally throwing at a batter begets more violence.

The situation: Michael Connick, 13, was trying to bunt with the bases loaded in a 13-and-under game in the travel Great Lakes Baseball League, which covers Northeast Ohio. What’s not in dispute is that the first pitch to Michael was way high and inside, and on the second, he was hit by the pitch, breaking his left hand. What is in dispute is whether the opposing coach ordered the pitcher to hit him intentionally.

From the News-Herald in Willoughby, Ohio:

Tom Connick, who also is an attorney [note to lawyer haters — not just an attorney, but a trial lawyer], filed a lawsuit this week in Lake County Common Pleas Court claiming Scott Barber, an assistant coach for the Titans, committed assault and battery against his son during the game at Haven’s Baseball Complex in Jefferson Township.

According to the suit, Barber ordered his pitcher on the mound to “throw at” Connick’s son, which resulted in the boy “severely” breaking his left hand.

“Immediately after (Michael) fell to the ground, and while writhing in pain, defendant Barber again yelled from the dugout, ‘Good!,’ thus confirming and ratifying his order to ‘throw at’ and intentionally and recklessly … hit the plaintiff,” Tom Connick stated in the suit.

Connick claims that even after Michael left the field for the hospital, Barber encouraged other reckless and/or negligent physical play, including instructions to run over players on the opposing team.

How did Connick know this, given neither he nor his wife were at the game? I’m not sure. The story doesn’t explain. I presume the other parents on his team angrily and breathlessly told him what they saw happen on that fateful June 24. And then Connick responded by suing the coach and the league, which he said failed to discipline Barber, even though state youth baseball rules say intentionally throwing at a batter is illegal.

Connick and his wife, Corrina, are seeking more than $25,000 in damages, lost wages and attorney’s fees [Note: I presume lost wages are for Connick missing work, not because Michael already has a job. Or maybe he’s mowing lawns for pay already].

In addition, they want Judge Richard L. Collins Jr. to ban Barber from coaching or participating in any youth sports for at least 15 years.

Michael’s father … stressed that his family is not suing for the money.

“Anything he gets will go toward his medical bills, then a college fund through probate court,” Connick said. “I’m a lawyer, but I’m also Michael’s father. I don’t want people thinking I’m some scumbag attorney.”

Too late! From “The Slapper,” run just as it was typed, in the Herald’s comment section:

There are risks in every sport, and if the parents don’t like it, then too bad. It’s people like this attorney that give try to live through their children. People like this ruin it for everyone. Everything is a law suit. Quite being a cry baby and deal with the fact that your poor little baby got hit by a ball. If he doesn’t know how to get out of the way, then maybe he shouldn’t be trying to bunt. I feel bad for the kid, but there are a lot of hurdles throughout life that everyone has to deal with. Keep parents like this off the baseball fields. They’d be safer in the library. I would hate to see this kid play football, and the coach say sack him. This attorney would be suing for that!!! “

Although to be fair, plenty of commenters showed support for the lawyer, given all of the out-of-control behavior from coaches they said they’ve witnessed. Also to be fair, Barber — varsity baseball and golf coach, as well as seventh-grade boys baseball coach, at Jefferson Area Junior-Senior High in Ashtabula County, Ohio — has not responded to the allegations, and the league backs up him as a good and decent coach.

One question I’ve seen from some commenters is, why didn’t the umpire say anything after the first pitch? First, the umpires for these events are low-paid drudge workers, so they’re not necessarily training their ears to know if something scurrilous is going on. Second, with it being 13-and-under baseball, no umpire would believe a pitcher has enough control to throw at a batter, accurately, especially twice in a row.

Third, these low-paid drudge workers want to get home without fighting with anyone, so they may take the path of least resistance — which means not throwing out a coach who obviously is doing wrong. The other day my daughter’s 10-and-under travel softball team was called out for not touching the plate, not because the ump saw she didn’t touch the plate, but because my daughter’s team was up 10-0, the other coach was screaming (as he had all game), and as the ump told my daughter’s coach, “I just wanted to shut him up.” (The lost run turned out not to be an issue, but my daughter’s coach was a bit perturbed that he essentially was penalized for being a nice guy. To digress, this call had the effect of teaching the girls to make sure they hit the plate. My daughter touched it twice the other day when she scored, just to be careful.)

I have no sympathy for any coach who tells anyone to hurt someone intentionally. It’s one thing to hurt players if everyone is playing hard — say, a collision at the plate between the catcher legitimately trying to block it and the runner legitimately trying to score. But if this coach really was demanding his pitcher throw at another player, and the league and his club fail to take any action, then I don’t blame Tom Connick for doing what he knows, and suing the bastards into compliance.

Even those who don’t care much for trial attorneys might agree that a few lawsuits might dial down the number of grown-up coaches who seem to get their competitive jollies over telling one kid to hurt another.

Written by rkcookjr

July 18, 2010 at 4:25 pm

United Nations identifies new violent hot spot: youth sports

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UNICEF Flag

Image via Wikipedia

Judging by the report put out by UNICEF’s Innocenti Research Centre (it’s based in Florence, hence what would otherwise seem like a comical Italian name), you should expect to see the blue-helmeted forces of the United Nations keeping the peace at your kid’s next ballgame.

The center (I’m spelling it the American way, damnit) took the time for its usual work of researching the most desperate regions of the world to check out the most desperate parents and coaches in the world — those involved with youth sports in so-called advanced nations. Its report, released in mid-July, is reassuring only in that the United States isn’t the only nation where everyone goes overboard about kids’ athletics.

From the report, titled “Protecting Children from Violence in Sport,” just in case you wondered what the researchers’ conclusion would be:

During recent years, however, it has become evident that sport is not always a safe space for children, and that the same types of violence and abuse sometimes found in families and communities can also occur in sport and play programmes. Child athletes are rarely consulted about their sporting experiences, and awareness of and education on child protection issues among sport teachers, coaches and other stakeholders is too often lacking.  Overall, appropriate structures and policies need to be developed for preventing, reporting and responding appropriately to violence in children’s sport.

The report is chock-a-block with examples from all over the world regarding abuse of children in the name of sport, and that’s without bringing up the name of a single gymnastics coach or tennis dad.

By the way, the United Nations does not define violence against children in sports (yes, the United Nations passed a resolution to define violence against children in sports) as merely physical, sexual  or mental abuse from a coach or parent, or overtraining a kid to the point he gets Tommy John surgery for his bar mitzvah. The definition includes hazing, peer pressure from teammates to drink or do drugs, the use of performance-enhancing substances, and — in what is sure to arouse the ire of Dave Cisar — sex as a prerequisite to participation.

This passage about organized sports being a political process, rather than a physical one, will get a hey-yeah from anyone whose obviously talented child was cut in favor of the coach’s spazz son:

Street play and other forms of adult-free recreation may be the only situations in which children have autonomy over their sport (although even then, they are often being closely observed by parents or othercaregivers). In contrast, children in organized, competitive sport usually lack authority; they are excluded from decision-making and may have their voices silenced by coaches, assertive parents or caregivers, or by senior athletes. In these instances, participation in sport is therefore a physical but not a political right. As a consequence, children are rarely allowedto shape their own competitive sporting experiences and may be subjected to violence if they fail to comply with the wishes of sport authority figures. This exclusion from the right to participation as defined by the Convention on the Rights of the Child leaves children vulnerable to types of violence that range from bullying to sexual abuse and commercial trafficking.

So if your child gets cut, make sure to cite the UN’s Convention on the Rights of the Child in your argument to the coach. It’s your ace in the hole.

By the way, if you’re like me — and thank whatever god you worship if you’re not — you did a stop on “commercial trafficking.” You mean, like how strip clubs get their dancers from Eastern Europe? Well, maybe not a large extent, though you can argue the system that rewards street agents to deliver under-18 baseball players in Latin America to Major League Baseball teams is child trafficking of a form. Heck, you could extend the definition to Clark Francis’ Hoop Scoop rating fourth-graders for the pleasure of college coaches, given how far the United Nations extends its definitions of violence against children.

Trafficking in the context of sport involves the sale of child athletes, usually across national boundaries and for profit. This has been described as a new form of child slavery that leaves players in a precarious legal position. There are known cases of trafficking in baseball and football, but finding systematic data on the practice is a challenge. Unofficial, and therefore unregulated, football training centres test young players, who are then recruited or discarded. These players may become involved in illegal migration or be traded from club to club. Research for this report found very few references to trafficking of children in sport; most references concerned children working as camel jockeys.

The Innocenti Research Centre, like any UN peacekeeper, doesn’t have a magic bullet that can end all the violence. The conclusions of its report talk about having more research into exactly how many children in sports are affected bv violence, and what kind; more training and awareness programs by sports organizations; turning over anyone who commits criminal violence against a child to authorities rather than handling it internally (ahem, USA Swimming); and otherwise making it clear to all involved that violence is something you have to worry about.

This report focused only on the industrialized world — not the places where, since the turn of the millennium, the United Nations has launched sports-based programs to help impoverished children in war-torn lands. After all, like most of the rest of us, while the report saw problems in youth sports, it acknowledges it can have great benefits, and that many children enjoy them. The United Nations’ goal, it appears, is to ensure that blood diamonds exist only inside a youth sports complex.

Written by rkcookjr

July 17, 2010 at 4:01 pm

Arrested coach pictured poorly in court, on Facebook

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Unfortunately this happens a lot — a young-ish assistant high school coach getting popped on charges related to fooling around (or trying to fool around) with the kids he coaches. However, these stories aren’t usually accompanied by the unflatteringly douchebaggish photo of the alleged perpetrator.

This story should teach any young coach that if you’re going to be stupid, depraved and unprofessional enough to go all Wooderson on high school girls, you should at least make sure your social network pictures don’t make you look like the kind of guy who might be that stupid, depraved and unprofessional.

From the Deseret News in Salt Lake City:

A well-known substitute teacher and sports coach in Moab has been arrested and charged with raping two teenage girls.

Trace Wells, 24, was charged [July 13] in 7th District Court with multiple counts of rape, possession of child pornography, forcible sex abuse and enticing a minor. …

Wells was a former football star at Grand County High School and worked as a substitute teacher at the high school and the local middle school. He also helped coach the high school track team, of which one of his victims was a member, said Grand County Sheriff’s Sgt. Kim Neal.

Wells and his family are fairly prominent in the community, according to officials. His father is the coach of the high school’s football and wrestling teams. His grandmother is a member of the Grand County Council, Neal said. …

The victims were 15 and 16 years old and both girls whom Wells had known for awhile, Neal said. The child porn charges stem from alleged “sexting” (texting of sexual pictures) of at least one of the victims, he said.

And here is the profile picture on Trace Wells’ Facebook and MySpace pages, a shot the Deseret News picked up and used on its site:

I will emphasize that Trace Wells, like anyone arrested, is innocent until proven guilty. But, sheesh, this isn’t helping.

American youth sports system: The root of all evil

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It’s rare you see a newspaper editorial that wraps up all the ills of the youth sports-industrial complex at once, blaming it for poor athlete development, obesity, classism and minivan windows caked with messages like “Go Lightning! Katie #12! Whoooo!”

The Mercury News of San Jose, Calif., uses the recently concluded World Cup to conclude that the way youth sports is run in the USA sucks soccer balls.

The burst of excitement when it seemed the United States might have a chance to get to the World Cup final this year has led to heightened hopes that we’ll make it someday. But without a revolution in how we deal with youth sports, it’s unlikely to happen.

During today’s game between Spain and the Netherlands, on too many playgrounds across America, the soccer goals will be locked up — available only to children whose parents have the money and the inclination to pay for them to play.

Unregulated private clubs are increasingly dominating access to American youth sports. Parents now spend more than $4 billion every year for private sports training for their children, with kids from less wealthy or less sports-inclined families denied equal opportunity to develop their talents.

This is not the way to develop world-class teams in sports like soccer, when in most of the world even the poorest kids grow up kicking a ball around. More important, an over-reliance on pay-to-play sports is not in the best interest of children’s overall development.

I can give you 4 billion reasons why pay-to-play isn’t going to change. It’s not just the athletic companies, travel league organizers, concession stand suppliers and minivan-window marker manufacturers that don’t want to see things change. The problem is that no matter how much you try to equalize things, parents are more than willing to pay big bucks to gain an advantage for their children. I’m not sure how you stop that. “Hey, parents! [Finger wags.] You stop doing what you think is best for your kid!”

The editorial notes that the only sport in which the United States is a consistent world power is basketball, because of “players who primarily develop their skills on public courts, playing pickup games after school and on weekends.” I hate to break this to the Mercury News editorial board, but has it ever heard of AAU ball? Of course, poor kids often only get an opportunity there because they’ve shown some incredible amount of talent and physical prowess early, and some sugar daddy wants to cash in once the first pro contract is signed.

However, I, along with the Mercury News editorial board, would like to think all hope is not lost in giving all kids an equal chance of at least participating in sports, regardless of income, particularly as cash-strapped schools, cities and parks make cuts or ras

America needs a national debate about the direction of youth sports. Educators and health officials at all levels should be discussing whether sports teams should have more defined seasons and whether all children should have more access to fields and teams.

Of all nations, ours should be dedicated to equal opportunity in youth sports and fitness. Besides promoting health, sports can help keep kids engaged in school and get into college.

And as a side benefit, by developing all the American talent available, we’ll also have a better shot at producing world-class teams.

Written by rkcookjr

July 12, 2010 at 6:06 pm

Youth baseball coach/dad reacts violently to player/son acting violently

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“Who taught you to totally lose your shit when you got mad? Huh?”

“YOU, DAD! I learned it by watching you!”

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From The Associated Press:

Youth baseball coach Ray Boudreau of suburban Harrisburg, Pa., is charged with simple assault after his 9-year-old son was punched in the face for being ejected from a game.

According to court papers, Boudreau struck his son twice with a closed fist at the game [July 5], but defense attorney Brian Perry says that while Boudreau handled the situation poorly, he actually struck the boy on the back.

Boudreau is scheduled to appear at a hearing on July 27.

Court papers say the umpire and scorekeeper called police, who arrested Boudreau at his Enola home.

An officer says he observed redness on the boy’s face.

Perry says Boudreau spent Monday night in jail.

He said the boy was ejected for throwing his helmet after he was thrown out at third base.

Written by rkcookjr

July 12, 2010 at 4:59 pm