(Please excuse a slight deviation from a typical sports column for a bit of a rant. I was not going to write about it but I found myself feeling even stronger about it 12 hours later than I did watching it happen.)
HEY PARENTS! WAKE UP AND BE A PARENT! Last night I sat at the ballpark with a good friend, my brother and his wife. We had a great time watching the Cardinals beat the Phillies. It’s what I saw in the stands that grated on me.
Sitting in section 140, about six rows down, was a kid about 10 years old. He and his brother (or friend) both had foam cardinal claws (the claw had three talons). For basically the entire game, the kid would hold down the two outside talons and pretend to be flicking people off with the foam talon. The entire time, no adult with the kid said a thing. There was no correction or someone saying it was inappropriate or not funny. There was no adult taking the prop away. Even if an adult sitting near the kid had the guts to say, “You know what? That’s just not funny,” it still went on.
When did it get to the point that a 10 year old kid can sit in a stadium, pretending to give people the middle finger, and parents think that this is ok? I expect the immaturity and cheap attempts at humor from the 10 year old. That seems kind of normal. What you don’t expect is the dumb, irresponsible, inattentive, lack of class parenting sitting with them. What should have happened? Tell the kid to stop. If he doesn’t, take away the foam talon. If he pitches a fit, remove him from the stands and if it continues, take the rude brat home and don’t bring him back until he can act appropriately. Is it easy? Of course not. Does it mean your night might be ruined? Yup, but that is the price you pay when you decided to become a parent and raise a child. Sometimes punishing them means punishing yourself and that’s just life.
It’s time for parents to wake up and get a clue. It is not the responsibility of the school to raise your kids. It is not the responsibility of a pro athlete to teach your kid life lessons, as one person texted into the Sports Hub last week. It’s not the responsibility of an usher to have to walk down and remind you your kid is acting like an imbecile. And while it is sometimes necessary for some other adult nearby to actually say something, it should not be their responsibility to do so. Pull your nose out of your smart phone. Yank your kid away from the video games, and actually make them responsible people. Teach them what is appropriate and what is not and make them pay the price if they don’t want to.
(Now is the time to remind anyone that thinks that a 10 year old pretending to give people the finger is either cute, funny or ok, that it’s not. It’s classless and disappointing no matter how you look at it.)
Look, there will be plenty of things that fall out of the reach of control of a parent, but when it happens right in front of you, it’s hard to ignore. Am I overreacting? I don’t think so. I found nothing amusing about the kid acting like a punk and even less amusing about the lack of response from the adults with him.
Hey in the end Jake Westbrook pitched a gem. Pujols made nice plays starting at 3rd for the first time in over seven years, and Salas became the latest to audition as a closer for the Cardinals. It was a good game. And what will the 10 year old be able to say? “Hey remember the night we went to the game and I flicked off all those people with my foam talon?” Nice memory. Great work Mom and Dad. You must be real proud.