Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Taking Care of the Bad Apple: Keep Your Sports League the Best It Can Be by Keeping Trouble at Bay

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Taking Care of the Bad Apple: Keep Your Sports League the Best It Can Be by Keeping Trouble at Bay

Article excerpt

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Remember back in the day when you could grab your bat and glove and meet up with some folks to play a little ball? Sometimes a batter would "accidentally" hit one up the middle just over the pitcher's head, or a player would slide hard into second base to break up the double play. Oddly enough, it was a rarity that anyone would get mad enough to cause a scuffle. It was the belief of the players that "it's part of the game."

It's All About Respect

So, what has changed? It's a loss of respect--the driving force behind violence in sports. If you go out to an evening of recreational adult softball, basketball, football, or any other competition sport, you are bound to hear verbal assaults between players. So many of these athletes don't realize the difference between a verbal attack and some good, old-fashioned ribbing. These same athletes believe that respect is something that they are entitled to, no matter how they behave, and not something that is earned.

And let's be honest, officials, umpires and referees are limited to the penalties they can dish out. They're confined to calling the game and imposing penalties as they relate to the game itself. Since the penalties imposed by the game officials are effective to only some of the players, more stringent and behavior-changing consequences need to be handed out.

Beyond officials, most organized sports organizations have developed a player code of conduct. Some even incorporate teams' spectators. The purpose of any code of conduct is to attempt to manage individuals' behavior. In sports, the old adage "one bad apple spoils the bunch" is true. You see, even if there are only one or two problem players in a league or program, that league stands the chance of having its growth limited.

The code of conduct has evolved from "unwritten" rules of behavior, to the coach or manager signing and promising to inform his or her players, to every player signing that he or she individually understand, and agree, to abide by the written and established code of conduct.

Enforcement

Disciplining players who have paid money to participate in leagues of programs is not and should not be fun, whether or not they deserve it. …

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