Juggling the very thin line between cheeringJeering: Parents: Wrecking ball is never far

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 27, 2004

Michaela Curtis no longer has kids that play in the league. Terry Cameron’s daughter isn’t having fun and Keith Durham will not umpire in Demopolis. Though none of these parents think that the Demopolis Dixie Youth or Dixie Girls programs is in a demolition state, they know that that wrecking ball is never far away.

They’re there for every game, proud parents, wanting nothing more than to support their children. They each have good intentions, wanting only the best for their kids, but sometimes they want it too badly.

It can happen at any time, but only if it’s encouraged, or rather, not discouraged by others. Irate fans have a tendency to follow irate coaches. Or is it the other way around? It doesn’t really matter because it’s obvious the two go hand in hand.

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Curtis watched her two sons eventually loose interest in a sport they once loved. Social interest began to change and needs we not being met. “I decided that it would be best for them to pursue other interest,” Curtis said. “I did not feel that they were being demonstrated the best social traits.”

Curtis is a firm believer in the philosophy that children are best taught by example. But Curtis didn’t like the example that was teaching her children.

“There was a pattern of behavior being taught that I didn’t want my kids exposed to,” Curtis said. “And I eventually decided to pull them from baseball.”

Being a parent and an umpire, Durham has a unique viewpoint of the situation. He has umpired at both the little league level and the high school level, and says that there are differences.

“At the high school level, parents seem to know their place,” Durham said. “There isn’t as much parental involvement in a game.”

One reason for this could be that at the high school level, all game oriented situations or problems are considered to be the responsibility of the coach.

“Coaches have more responsibility at the high school level,” Durham said. “They take care of every situation, even the fans. ”

But when it comes to recreational sports the parental involvement is strong, almost too strong.

“The fans are more vocal at the little league level,” Durham said. “They seem more vocal and violent.”

Fans and at the little league are defiantly more vocal. Perhaps it’s because they are more emotionally connected to the game, therefore to close to it. Parents at the little league level have become so involved in the game that they feel it’s their duty and right to argue a call with an umpire, and even taken on the responsibility’s of a coach, while still viewing the game from behind the fence.

“When you have coaches who do not set the standard, then the parents and even the children don’t know where the boundaries are and are more likely to act inappropriately,” Curtis said.

Coaches need to set the standard,” Durham said.

By Clay McCombs / Sports Editor