There's only one place in the galaxy where kids' sports is sane.
Jupiter, Fla., that is, where on Feb. 15, the town's athletic association did something we should've done in America 20 years ago. It took the parents out behind the woodshed.
If you wanted your kid to play on one of the Jupiter association's zillion teams this year, you had to file into a minor league baseball stadium, watch a video on sportsmanship and then vow not to insult, cuss at, holler at, spit upon, push, punch, body-slam or otherwise abuse a coach, referee, team mom, scorekeeper, fan, player or another parent.
You think it doesn't happen? In Port St. Lucie, Fla., a youth soccer coach head-butted a referee, breaking the ref's nose. In Wagoner, Okla., a 36-year-old coach started choking a 15-year-old umpire in a tee-ball game for 5-and 6-year-olds. In Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., a baseball game for 7-and 8-year-olds ended in a parents' brawl. In Boca Raton, Fla., one of the managers in a baseball game for 9-and 10-year-olds mooned the opponents' parents.
And you thought pro sports was mayhem.
Jupiter parents had to sign the code of ethics, which included such pledges as "I will remember that the game is for youth—not adults" and "I will do my very best to make youth sports fun for my child." Break the code and they're banished from the association's games for as much as a year.
Problem was, that code didn't go nearly far enough. As a poor slob who has coached kids' sports for 10 years and gone to more kids' games than Mr. and Mrs. Osmond combined, I would've made the parents sign this—in blood:
?I'll keep in mind that, in case I hadn't noticed, my kid isn't related to the Griffeys. There's probably no college scholarship on the line, to say nothing of a $116.5 million guaranteed contract with the Cincinnati Reds. In fact, right now my kid is filling the inside of his baseball glove with ants. He looks happy. I'll shut up.
?I won't dump my kid out of the Lexus 20 minutes late to practice and then honk the horn when I pick him up 20 minutes early, as though the coach is some kind of hourly nanny service. If my kid has to miss a game, I'll call the day before. It doesn't cost any more to be decent.