(This column was written
Violence in Sports
By Shelly Saltman
This evening I was watching the Los Angeles Lakers play the Dallas Mavericks in round two of the 2011 playoffs.
The frustrated Lakers were completely outplayed and looked like old men who had no legs left to stand on and run. Until this point, for the most part, when I was associated with the team, I was proud of the organization. The Lakers epitomized all that was good in sport ... sportsmanship, dedication and the desire to win. All three were missing. Dedication and desire to win appeared to be left in only the two players with the longest association with the team...
Sportsmanship went out the window when Andrew Bynum, the Laker's youthful center, low bridged and nearly crippled the Mavericks Juan Barea... an uncalled for and unnecessary act of violence. But we have to ask ourselves what precipitated this?
In preparing this column, I called on many past incidents of athlete violence in sports, some I witnessed personally and others I have only read about.
However, before I show examples, let's look at how violence has crept into the fabric of our games. To that, let's go back to back the year 1939. In that year, a man named Carl Stotz and his wife, living in
Today, it is the world's largest organized youth sports program with nearly 200,000 participants yearly, in 80 countries. However, it has deviated far from the original concept. The idea was to win if you can with proper coaching and fun. In fact, when I was living in
He took care of the baseball while I took care of having fun. If we got too far ahead, I made sure every kid played. In fact, I would bring in my son Steven to pitch and, although he loved it, he could not pitch and the other teams would be given a modicum of self esteem. It was not win at all costs. It was learn, do your best and play hard.
One of the parents was always yelling at his son in a merciless fashion. The poor kid, only 12 years old was crying all the time. I had a few words with the parent as had the umpires. Next week at the local Town Hall Meeting, the township enacted a fine system to control rowdy parents. This fine consisted of money, possible banishment from the field, or even jail time.
It was a shame that we had to come to this. However, the win at all costs mentality of many parents demanded drastic action.
Psychologists tell us that we can almost always directly attach the reaction of the youngster to role model behavior. This simply boils down to parents and star athletes. Numerous polls have been extremely indicative of the out-of-control parental interference.
There have been some drastic results. On
SportingKids magazine conducted a survey of over 3,300 parents, coaches, youth sports administrators and youth and here's what they found:
84% witnessed parents acting violently (shouting, berating, using abusive language)
80% believe inappropriate behavior is destroying what youth sports are meant to be.
There are many more : In Hampton, Pa., a parent body-slammed a high school referee after he ordered the man's wife out of the gym for yelling obscenities during a basketball game... the referee had a concussion. In
Sports Illustrated for Kids had a similar survey with even more example. In
But the most heinous is when arguments spill over and become fatal...
I have only demonstrated the tip of the iceberg. There are 1,000 more instances of mayhem committed by imitating role models.
Andrew Bynum is the latest to fall off his pedestal. His apology today was vacuous and appeared insincere. I feel Commissioner Stern must make an example of him. At the risk of being trite, he must be stern !