A youth baseball league has come up with a creative way to put angry parents in their place.
We all know the type, whether you grew up with them or you sit next to them in the stands today.
These are parents who are convinced their son or daughter is a future MVP, and don’t mind cursing out the officials to prove a point.
Well, a little league in Knoxville, Tennessee has found a polite way to make these grumpy parents mind their manners.
"It's just a game."
A new sign posted at Knoxville’s Concord Park by Farragut Baseball Inc. features a series of polite but important reminders to parents from “their child.”
“I’m just a kid, it’s just a game, my coach is a volunteer, the officials are humans, NO college scholarships will be handed out today,” it reads.
The league’s director, Steven Branson, says parents have been getting heated on the sidelines for years, and league organizers felt compelled to hang up the sign.
“It’s probably long overdue, honestly,” he told WBIR. "It's a way to catch your attention. I think if it had been too subtle people would have ignored it.”
In a post on Facebook, the league said its players are “here to play ball, learn a little and have a LOT of fun,” and competitive parents don’t fit in with those goals.
Branson said the most important thing is to let the league’s players be kids.
“Let's not put too much pressure on them because that comes soon enough without our help anyway.”
So far, reactions to the sign are mainly positive, and parents are asking for similar signs at parks across the country.
But a handful of online commentors called the sign "soft," and said heated parents are just part of the game.
Penalties For The Parents
Farragut's measured and thought-out approach almost seems weak at a time when ugly confrontations between parents, coaches, and referees are being recorded across the country.
Most recently, a pair of coaches at a pee-wee football game traded punches after the final whistle blew.
Both teams were lined up to shake hands when things got intense between coaches, who began brawling on the field as nearby kids broke into tears.
A brawl between parents at a Tennessee softball tournament also made headlines in June. Despite the fact that players were only 12 years old, the stands cleared out for a vicious melee that was caught on camera.
While this bad behavior sets a terrible example, youth leagues also say it's encouraging a nationwide referee shortage.
The National Federation of State High School Associations says they can't keep referees employed, as 80% of their officials quit after three years or less on the job.
The statistics are even worse in some states, like Wisconsin, where just 20% of refs stay on after the first three years.
Organizations in some states are struggling so badly, they've warned parents to expect more and more cancellations because of referee shortages.
Of course there are other factors involved - the average pay for a youth referee is only $100 a game, while the number of players has doubled nationwide - but working referees say badly behaving parents are their biggest concern.
[H/T: Fox News]