It’s incredible and certainly I can’t be alone in this. A few days ago, there was a news clip reporting the all out brawl of parents at a baseball game in Colorado. It was a little league game. I am going to say something that I am sure many of us were thinking when we first heard this story, and before we saw the images.
I have to admit that it felt good, in the midst of the horror of it all, to find out that these fighting parents were not African-American. In the back of my mind, when hearing of acts such as these, I was hoping and praying that it wasn’t one of ‘us’. How awful is that?
Unfortunately, for many black parents and their children, brawling and misbehaving has become an expectation. That is so utterly unfair… that is unless the situations are rigged from the get go. In that case, what would one expect but outrage, potentially pouring out into all out violence and rage. But this, not one of those situations. It was an otherwise fair and human game of little league baseball. The children were the players; the adults, spectators, supporters and coaches, not wrestlers or MMA fighters.
This was an unforgivable situation, when the adults in the room lost all credibility as parents and positive role models, by losing control.
Good sportsmanship, positive coping, it’s just a game, control your temper, there are positive and nonviolent ways to express yourself, never be a bully, play fair, respect authority, don’t talk back to authority, learn to walk away, pick your battles, is it worth it, rise above the fray, maintain your composure, if everybody jumped off a bridge, would you do it too, yada, yada, yada….All children hear from now on is jibberish. They learn what they live.
So, this was broadcast on network news at primetime. Certainly unusual was this newscast because these are the types of behaviors abdincidents that receive coverage, but the players are usually black or brown. They are almost certainly residents of under-resourced low income communities. It perpetuates the negative stereotypes and biases about blacks in this Country.
What felt good, though, was the discovery that these parents were not black. They were Caucasians acting up in front of and in clear view of their children. This type of behavior is unfortunately expected of blacks and less educated adults, people living in poverty, unsophisticated and under-educated people-not middle of the road, middle class whites.
As shocking as that scene was, somehow I am not aplogetic in my relief that these parents were not black. They were not living in poverty. They were not a part of a tradition of being infantalized, underserved, underrepresented, and absence of political, social or personal autonomy permitted by virtue of American citizenship.
Overall, this was a shameful display of adult behavior, and worse yet, it was in clear view of the children who look up to these people for guidance, support and discipline. Come on, people, this was a game, a sport, an exercise of talent, skill, and though it is just a sport, children and adults, can learn a lot about the game of life through participation in sports activities.
Parents, teach fairness, self-discipline, and demonstrate that in life, even sports, everything and every decision will not always go the way we wish.
The bottom line is that we still teach children that we rise above the fray, and understand that all decisions are not going to be made in our favor. We teach them to do the right thing, do their best, and do not compromise their integrity or the integrity of the sport.
Teach that there are always avenues to right any wrongs, and if not, encourage them to create etghical routes to ensure just outcomes. This pertains to sports, employment, education, relationships, and life.
Though there is a board game called Life, life is not a board game. Parents, teach children how to play it without cheating. If there is an issue that is worth fighting for, then make sure your fight is fair. Though children may appear to not listen to us, they will always imitate us. If this sounds crass, I still say, “Thank goodness they were not black.”