Parental Rage, Checked

Losing one's composure and resorting to violence is always regrettable. But there's something especially tragic about fist fights between parents at youth-sports events, where elders should be models of restraint and sportsmanship.

Last week, one father at a youth hockey practice in a suburb of Boston attacked and killed another for not controlling rough play against his son on the ice. He's been indicted for manslaughter.

The incident left the nation wondering if too many parents take their children's sports too seriously, losing sight of sports' real value.

Of course, generalizations are risky in this case. But youth sports organizations, as well as associations of referees and umpires, report increased instances of rowdy and often vicious behavior by parents and spectators.

It's one thing to shout disagreement with a call; it's quite another to throw a punch. Rage has no place at an event meant to instill character.

This terrible incident should cause all parents of youthful athletes to rethink their motives. Why do they make the commitment to attend games and matches? To live out their sports fantasies through their kids? To see if junior is progressing toward an athletic scholarship or a lucrative pro career? To see their children win, rather than just do their best?

Sports should bring families together and teach lessons in teamwork and overcoming limitations, whether physical, mental - or emotional. But those lessons won't be learned when an adult's compassion turns into passion.

Rage on the roads, in airliners, or on playing fields and rinks is an affront to civilized society. Youngsters need to see it dispelled, not indulged.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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