I witnessed the most unbelievable example of bad coaching, poor sportsmanship and lack of class at last weekend's softball tournament that I've ever seen. After a close call early in a game the head and 3rd base coach furiously stormed onto the field shouting at the field umpire right up in his face and nearly chest-bumping him and with much of the support of his team's parents and players. I thought for sure this coach who was younger and physically dwarfed the umpire was going to beat the ump to a pulp. It's moments like these which contribute to the negative stereotypes associated with youth sports. I was embarrassed for my sport.
They'd learn that it's better to control their emotions behave with class.
I do not care whether the game was on the line, if it was the championship of the world or if that particular umpire had wronged him before. The act of rushing out onto the field in a physically threatening manner while screaming at the umpire is NEVER CALLED FOR! I feel so strongly about this that I've informed the tournament director about it. If I was the tournament director, I would ban him from any of my future tournaments and inform the tournament's sanctioning body of his behavior and my decision.
What did the players and parents learn from the behavior of their coach? I sat in disbelief listening to some parent's laugh and joke about it. One comment that sums it up was, "It's about time he did that. That ump is terrible." I watched a couple players on the bench laughing about it as well. I can only assume several similar incidents have taken place through the season and likely over the years. I guess what they learned is that when something doesn't go your way in softball or in life, that you throw a temper tantrum and/or physically threaten an authority figure.
The Right Way
How should the coach have responded? The coach should have calmly asked "Blue" for a timeout. Next, he should have walked out slowly to the field umpire and requested he ask his partner, the home plate umpire, for help with the play. Then, he should have allowed the two umpires to discuss the play privately to determine whether or not the call be changed. He should then accept their decision and forget about it. In most cases umpires do not overrule their partners. Expect it, then build a bridge and get over it. He should then inform his team to do the same and to focus on the game. It's just part of the imperfect game of softball.
The players and parents would learn to handle such situations calmly and to treat authority figures and for that matter people in general with respect. They'd learn that it's better to control their emotions behave with class. They would learn that umpires, opposing team's parents, players and coaches would recognize their good example of sportsmanship and character. And they would hopefully learn to incorporate this behavior into their lives outside of the softball diamond.
Nobody's perfect. We all make mistakes. We've all probably responded to close or bad calls with something like, "Oh c'mon blue." The difference is that we let it go. I just hope this example makes coaches, parents and players think about it before they react to the inevitable next close call.