(Photo credit: WFAA video)

Instead of Leading, Parents Are Bringing Violence to Youth Sports

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Seven years ago, I wrote a feature article looking into youth sporting events and the uptick in violence. 

While researching for my story, I attended a girls high school basketball game where I witnessed a parent barking instructions to their daughter while the coach was drawing up plays.

Imagine what would’ve happened if the coach turned around and told the parent to chill?

In today’s age of youth sports, there might’ve been a problem.

Lately, it appears parents and coaches have become more brazen when it comes to inciting violence. 

My daughter plays hockey. As a parent who is aware of the valuable lessons of youth sports, at what point do I achieve the balance between having fun and the increasing importance of competition? 

What do I tell her when — not if — racism creeps into the equation and the adults do nothing about it?

Mark Conners, a biracial, teenage Canadian goaltender was the victim of racism slurs in 2021 during a hockey tournament.

Mark’s story will be featured in “Black Ice,” a documentary executive produced by Drake and LeBron James detailing the trials and tribulations of Black hockey players (Full disclosure: I’m making an appearance in the documentary.)

Here’s what Mark said in a first-person essay with CBC regarding how the adults failed him when he reported two separate racist incidents:

In both instances, we tried to get it to stop.

At the game, we notified the referees and my dad told tournament organizers.

At the hotel, we reported it to the front desk and the police were called.

Then, nothing.

The players didn’t face any consequences (the players were suspended AFTER the incidents garnered media coverage).

Winning And Keeping It Real

For some, winning is everything — even if enemies are made along the way. 

Reading everything I could on youth sports since my 2015 feature and becoming a parent along the way, there’s something different about these incidents. I think we’re dealing with something more than just a few parents who utilize youth sports to live vicariously through kids and who routinely obliterate boundaries as if they never existed.

It’s bigger than a parent saying: “I need this kid to get a scholarship or else.” 

The Dallas Morning News reported that the shooting death earlier this month of Mike Hickmon, a Dallas area youth football coach, at the hands of Yaqub Talib, the older brother of former NFL cornerback Aqib, took place after a late touchdown was scored during a scrimmage featuring nine-year-old players.

Continue reading over at First and Pen.

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