In an ideal world youth sports are supposed to be a source of character building and innocent competition where kids can enjoy themselves without too much concern over wins and losses. In reality, it is a place where parents frequently come to act like immature children.
Over the weekend in Springfield, Massachusetts Timothy Lee Forbes didn’t react too gracefully to his son’s 6th grade basketball team’s loss in the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) championship. Parents loose their cool at these types of events all the time, but normally their frustrations take form by lambasting the referees. Every once in a while there is a verbal altercation between parents in the stands and very rarely are situations settled via physical force.
Mr. Forbes decided to take the road less traveled. After the game finished and the team’s players were about to shake hands Forbes interrupted the customary display of sportsmanship in the worst way possible. After some words were apparently exchanged, Forbes barreled through the group of 10-12-year-olds and unleashed his frustrations over his son’s loss on the winning coach. And if you thought simply beating the shit out of a 6th grade CYO coach wasn’t unnecessary enough, Forbes also bit off part of the opposing coach’s ear for good measure.
Forbes is currently being held without bail and has pleaded not guilty to charges of disorderly conduct, assault and battery, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and mayhem.
I don’t know what it is about middle school sports that suddenly transform typically rational adults into hair-trigger assault weapons, but it has been happening for well over a decade and shows no signs of slowing. Normally the tension in the stands never extends beyond passive aggressive comments between parents. Last night I watched my friend’s little brother play in an 8th grade championship and it reminded me just how obnoxious some parents can be. Some of their taunts, which could never be confused with polite cheering, were cringe-worthy.
The crowds at these events are always worse than those on the high school and college levels because there is usually a preconceived notion of civility at these games. Fans aren’t supposed to distract an 11-year-old with crowd noise while he’s shooting a free throw. So what we have are adults who tip-toe a fine line, and frequently step onto the wrong side. The pettiness and smugness of it all is borderline disturbing.
Mr. Forbes, however, didn’t tip-toe any line, he ripped through the boundary like the tape at the end of a 100-yard dash. I mean, if Mike Tyson proved it’s completely unacceptable to bite an ear during a sport where grown men are supposed to maul each other, doing so to a youth basketball coach is down-right insane.