Bully Dads

iStock_000010088643XSmall.jpgIn light of Bullying Prevention Awareness month, I’ve been writing a lot about mean girls and mean moms. But today, I’m tackling a subject that truly hit home this weekend in more ways than one. Bully dads.
If you’re the parent of a child who plays sports, then you’ve probably had a few run-ins with these types before. They are overly agressive on the field. They yell at their players if they make a mistake during game play and they argue with other coaches and the umpires when things don’t go their way.
For the most part, the childish behavior exhibited by these dads doesn’t really bother me. I watch from the stands as they argue amongst themselves when a decision on the field doesn’t pan out the way they expected. From time to time, I’ve also seen coaches who know their player is out, but they let it slide so their team can score an extra run. I do get upset however, when their stupidity crosses the line and affects my own child.
This weekend, my son was excited to play his first baseball playoff game. And when he took the field, he was on fire. For the most part, whenever he got up to the plate, he hit the ball deep into the outfield. As one of the only boys in the league who uses a wooden bat, we were pretty proud of him. Supposedly, it’s harder to hit the ball with wood than you can with aluminum and despite the handicap, he was doing just fine. That is, until one of the coaches from the opposing team raised a red flag.
At some point during the game, a father from the other team instructed his son to take a look at the bat and when it was my son’s turn at the plate, one of the coaches told my husband (who is also a team coach) they had concerns about him. When my husband responded the boy in question was his son, the coach stood his ground and allowed one of the 14 year old umpires to take the bat away from him. They then proceeded to hit the bat on the ground several times – as if expecting the bat had been tampered with prior to the game. Did they honestly believe my son or husband for that matter would compromise the game by doing something illegal to an eight year old boy’s bat?
The next thing I knew, one of the dads screamed out from the sidelines, “Wooden bats aren’t allowed in Little League.” That’s funny, considering my son had been playing with a wooden bat since he was five years old and their team technically wasn’t part of Little League. Incidentally, according to the official Little League website: “Little League Baseball has always advocated that local leagues and individuals may choose wood or non-wood bats for use in our program.”
As my son began to cry, the coach from the opposing team back-pedaled and said they were concerned about the safety of the other players. Imagine if our son were to crack the bat and the wood went flying and a splinter grazed a child’s eye. Now imagine if you will an aluminum bat flying through the air after a kid hits a ball and knocking another child unconscious because he wasn’t paying attention. Splinter vs. concussion – you do the math.
After the coaches realized they had made a serious blunder, they gave my son his bat back and he took his stance at the plate. I wish I could say the next thing that happened was he hit it out of the park, but unfortunately, the bully dads took the wind out of his sails and he popped up to the infield.
When a child participates in team sports, the experience is supposed to foster camaraderie and friendship – not intense rivalry, deceit and skepticism. And the more dads exhibit bully-like behavior on the field, the more our own kids may hate being a part of it or worse yet, develop those same negative traits. Is that what you want for your child? Well I for one don’t.
Have you had a run-in on the ball field with a bully dad? Share your story now!