By David Pflughoeft Special to Published Aug 07, 2007 at 5:09 AM

Here's the pitch. This guy's been hitting the corners of the strike zone well all game. Oh! Outside corner again! I call, "Strike three! Batter's out!" The next thing I hear is, "Are you serious Blue? That wasn't even close! That was the worst call I've ever seen BESIDES all your other ones this game!"

Unfortunately for the coach, I've umpired three other games today in the scorching Saturday heat, and he's been whining about every call I've made this game. I have given him appropriate warning and now I'm forced to ask him to leave. The kids on his team look disappointed and the parents are either angry at him or at me. Everyone seems oblivious to the fact that the game is tied 4-4 and the kids are playing a fantastic game of baseball.

I have seen this situation and similar ones many times. Parents and coaches are more focused on winning and perfection, rather than letting their kids play and enjoy the game of baseball. They seem to be willing to do anything to win, including screaming their lungs out at one dropped ball or one bad call, and sticking a less talented player in the corner of the outfield rather than letting him play a more important position and hopefully improving his skills as the season moves on.

Little League is supposed to be an activity that gives kids a chance to learn the wonderful, complex game of baseball, play outside rather than sit plopped in front of the TV screen, and to be around their friends. It's not an opportunity for one child's parents to flaunt their superstar in front of the other parents or for a coach to cheat the system to attain his dream team that runs up the score on all the others. Yet I've seen things like this happen every season.

Adults and parents almost always are the role models that their children study constantly. What type of example are parents and coaches setting when they flip out on an umpire for every bad call? Now, this is not in defense of the umpire's every call. As an umpire, I sometimes make an incorrect call, and have seen many others make similar bad calls. But it is greatly unappreciated when we are constantly berated by a coach during a game. (Just a hint: arguing calls usually doesn't help you at all. It just makes the umpire more angry and moody.)

Adults are always telling their teens and younger children to respect authority and others. Yet they are often hypocritical in the way they act at this type of event. How can a child listen and obey a command by a parent when that same parent is violating that rule?

Most Little League baseball seasons are over now, but basketball, soccer, and football seasons are on the horizon.

I can guarantee that there will be problems with calls made by refs and possibly with your teen's or child's team. I urge you to make it a point to resist the urge to blow a gasket at the ref, and show your kids the right way to exercise sportsmanship. That doesn't mean you can't be competitive, but be supportive -- win or lose -- and help bring back the fun to youth sport leagues!


David Pflughoeft Special to
David Pflughoeft is a 17-year-old junior at Menomonee Falls High School, where he plays football, baseball and basketball. He also is passionate about video games and writing. His stories have appeared in newspapers across the country.