Parents, time to let it go

Every kid who grows up playing sports dreams of making it as a professional one day, but the reality is most kids won’t. Parents should accept this fact.

Most young sports enthusiasts move on to a non-sports related career, but as parents, too many try to live vicariously through their kids in youth sports.

There’s nothing wrong with motivating kids and encouraging them to do well in sports, but when a parent runs onto a football field and takes down a 13-year-old boy, there’s a major problem.

That’s exactly what happened in a youth football game Saturday in Stockton, Calif., after a child put a late hit on another child during a game. Key words here: child and child.

In retaliation, Cory Petero, an assistant coach and father of the kid who was taken down after the play, ran onto the field and tackled the 13-year-old defender. He was arrested on suspicion of felony child abuse, according to an Associated Press report.

Was this too harsh a charge? When I first heard the story on the radio Wednesday morning I thought it was, but after seeing the video on, I agree with the heavy charge.

Even more bush league than tackling the child, Petero jumped a fence and ran away while a 20-minute brawl reportedly erupted on the field.

The late hit on Petero’s son was very obvious and blatant, but personal fouls happen in football. That’s why teams are penalized with a loss of yards instead of having players kicked out of the game.

But the issue goes deeper than this unfortunate incident. In 2002, two fathers of youth hockey players got into an altercation after a practice, and the result was more serious than a bruised-up kid.

Thomas Junta beat another man to death and was sentenced to six to 10 years in prison on the charge of involuntary manslaughter, according to a New York Times article from Feb. 11, 2003.

Nothing could ever justify beating someone to death over a youth sporting event, but how can two parents get so worked up over a practice? Parents shouldn’t even be allowed to watch practices; all it does is put more pressure on their kids.

It’s a wonderful thing for parents to be involved in youth sports. In fact, youth leagues wouldn’t survive without team moms and parent coaches. But a line has to be drawn.

In this competitive society, way too much pressure is put on kids to win. And while winning championships is nice, sometimes it seems like the parent wants to win more than the child does.

The seriousness of these two incidents is admittedly different. In one someone was tackled, while in the other someone’s life was taken. Still, both incidents should send a message to parents: Stay out.

Drive your kids and their buddies to soccer practice, teach them how to play catch and cheer them on during competition. But just because you lost the state championship game 15 years ago, don’t get so involved that altercations occur.

People will argue as to whether Petero should be convicted of a felony. But hopefully the jury will think about past incidents and conclude that if this man is found guilty, it might show parents across the nation that serious consequences can happen if they try too hard to live through their kids.

At the very least, it would make them think twice the next time a youth game makes them want to hit somebody.