Tuesday, December 10, 2019
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Coach Kuyper,
What do you do when the opposing team’s coach is acting like a jerk, without making yourself look like an idiot? This morning, I attended my grandsons’ rookie league game. This team is made up of primarily 7-and 8-year-olds with, at this point, much more enthusiasm than ability. They go out and play and have fun, and they try, but they have the occasional “chasing butterflies in the outfield” moment, and none of the parents and grandparents want it to be any other way. Our coach is a very patient teacher who encourages the boys and girls to learn, play hard, and enjoy the game.
This morning, the coach of the opposing team was extremely aggressive, bordering on verbally abusive. He fiercely argued close calls, even when the other coaches on the field clearly had a much better view of the play than he did, and his team was ahead 12-1. Their parents/family/friends present seemed to think that his behavior was OK.
In the fourth inning, their catcher got hit by a weird bounce, and he hit the ground, doubled over in pain. The coach picked up baseballs, check on his fielders, adjusted his cap. The parents/grandparents on our team were yelling, “Hey, coach, catcher down”, “Hey coach, kid’s hurt!” When the coach finally acknowledged that his player was down, he said, “Shake it off, you’re tough.”
After the game, I went over to check on the boy who was injured. His knuckle was the size of a golf ball. When I suggested to the parents that they might want to have it X-rayed, they basically told me to mind my own business.
I know a little about baseball. I was a season ticket holder for the Diamondbacks before my husband died a couple of years ago, and I saw every home game of the season leading up to the championship series of 2001. When a pro player goes down, the field is littered with coaches, trainers, and everybody else who can possibly help.
I want my grandsons to learn to appreciate team sports, to develop hand-eye coordination, and to love baseball, whether they are players or fans. How do I deal with jerks this without looking like a jerk myself?
Please help,
Don’t you just wish that coaches like this would just get caught up in a romance novel and forget to show up for the game? Unfortunately, I have been involved in this kind of a situation more times than I can count. It is often coaches/parents that ruin youth sports for everyone.
It’s a touchy situation as the “over-reactive” parent or grandparent fuels the fire and puts a coach like this on the defense. Even being a big Diamondback fan doesn’t help.
Here are some of your options:
1. Talk to the league to find out their mission statement and policies. If he is out of line according to the league’s description, then let the league officials deal with it.
2. If the league doesn’t protect the kids or provide an environment that goes along with the values and priorities you want for your kids, finish the season out, and find a league that does.
3. In every case, use this as a learning tool for the kids. Remember, a lot can be taught, modeled, and learned from hard situations. Process what happened out loud with them and listen for their observations, then when you encounter this coach again, get a big bag of sunflower seeds to keep your mouth occupied, and try to enjoy the game!
And if sunflower seeds don’t work, then try chewing on some beef “jerk-y”!

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