As I previously pointed out, adults can get pretty out of control when it comes to youth sports. Coaches, parents, spectators -- no group appears to be completely immune from bad behavior when kids and competition are involved.
On athletic fields across the U.S., and even beyond its high-strung borders, "grown-ups" displaying jaw-droppingly bad behavior continue to permeate youth sports. While anyone who's come within 50 yards of a kids' playing field has no doubt experienced some level of cringe-worthy behavior, the following adults are standouts in this disturbing trend.
#5. Well, That Wasn't Very Canadian of You
The handshake line is one of youth sports' most respected traditions. Sure, it may amount to little more than a conga line of limp-wristed hand slaps with a few half-hearted commendations of "good game" tossed in, but the ritual is meant to promote good sportsmanship and mutual respect for a game well played.
With that said, there will always be a bad egg or two who disrespect tradition and turn the handshake line into another opportunity to attack the opponent. One of the most egregious examples of handshake line abuse happened in the unlikeliest of places: Canada.
"Hmmm ... get me the prime minister. This is serious."
Aside from their terrifying ritual of mixing beer with Clamato and unfortunate taste in sports (that's you, hockey), Canadians are generally considered to be an otherwise cool bunch. It's those stereotypes that make what recently went down at a youth hockey match (game? Contest? Ice duel? Who cares?) in British Columbia so appalling.
After a tight contest that ended with a score of 5-4, a 13-year-old player for the Richmond Steel was making his way through the handshake line when he received something he wasn't expecting.
"Boy, I sure hope I don't receive something I'm not expecting!"
While shaking hands with all of the politeness that his nationality requires, a foot emerged from the periphery and tripped the young skater, knocking him to the ice along with some collateral damage in the form of a 10-year-old teammate.
Pretty crazy, but hey, kids will be kids, right? That's definitely true, but it's not supposed to carry on well into adulthood:
Did you see it? The poor sport doing the tripping was no freckle-faced young imp; it was team coach Martin Tremblay, and the tripping is just the cherry on top of an entire day spent fixated on destroying the morale of one young hockey player.
Prior to the tripping incident, Tremblay had incessantly taunted that same player from the bench during the game, at one point calling the young man "Twinkle Toes" and eventually forcing him to flee the ice in tears. Keep in mind, Tremblay was 48 years old at the time.
"True, but I'm only as mature as four 8-year-olds."
I ask you to keep that in mind because, incredibly, there's another detail that makes this story exponentially worse: Tremblay's team won that game.
That's right; all of that poor sportsmanship and child battery was somehow brought on by the exhilarating thrill of victory. I'd hate to see what would have become of that poor kid if Tremblay's team had lost.
"I'd trip the kids, trip their girlfriends, trip their parents and their parents' friends. Trip down the houses they live in and the schools they learn in, trip people who owe them lunch money ..."
In case you're wondering, Tremblay received 15 days in jail and one year of probation for his unprovoked attack. If that sentence doesn't seem harsh enough, take comfort in knowing that he still has to live in Canada when he gets out of jail. That might be a step up, but it's not a big one.
#4. Just Like the Big Leagues Do It
Sometimes it feels like the NFL is a perpetual scandal machine. DUI, murder, assault -- and that's just players from New England. To be fair, most of the transgressions concern individual athletes and their rogue activities, but one of the biggest scandals in recent history involved an entire NFL team.
"Bountygate" brought the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints to their knees after it was revealed that the team had implemented a bounty system that offered financial reward for knocking opponents out of play. As heinous as that sounds, it's not all that surprising coming from one of the most violent major sports. Things get a little harder to stomach when you replace the professional athletes with innocent children, though.
"Start putting some stink on it! I've got 50 bucks riding on you guys this weekend."
Unfortunately, that's exactly what the coaches of the Tustin Red Cobras, an Orange County, California, Pop Warner squad, did, offering incentives to their players for big hits against opposing teams. The athletes receiving the bounty were 10 and 11 years old. To their diabolical credit, the Tustin Red Cobras coaches purportedly began offering cash bonuses for knocking opponents out months before the New Orleans Saints scandal popularized the practice. Accuse them of being violent douchebags with no regard for the safety of our nation's youth, but don't you dare call them copycats.
While the NFL imposed harsh penalties against the Saints, including a one-year suspension of head coach Sean Payton and an indefinite suspension of defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, the governing body of Pop Warner wasn't as quick or decisive.
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"Look, we're already losing kids to soccer. We can't have the rest thinking we're pussies."
Despite the revelation that one of the targeted players, an 11-year-old running back, suffered a concussion after he was hit by a Red Cobras player (who later received payment for the hit), and testimony from several parents, the equipment manager, and an assistant coach stating that the 10- and 11-year-old children were promised cash for hard hits and knocking key players out of games, Pop Warner concluded that there was no bounty system.
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"You take away my pay and I'm taking it out of your ass."
"No, Derek, it won't be like that! Be cool!"
However, in a seemingly contradictory move, Pop Warner decided to suspend the entire Tustin Red Cobras coaching staff anyway, cryptically basing their decision on one incident where a player "may have been rewarded for his performance," which Pop Warner Executive Director Jon Butler likened to going for ice cream after a game, which is probably accurate, provided your parents only buy you ice cream after you've successfully broken the leg of a neighborhood kid they don't like.
#3. Dad, You're Embarrassing Me (and Also Breaking the Law)
There is nothing more mortifying to a teenage girl and nothing creepier to watch than a dad who's overly invested in his daughter's extracurricular activities. The creep factor went into overdrive when Massachusetts dad Joseph Cordes boosted his helicopter parenting to Black Hawk ops levels at a high school ice hockey game.
During a tournament match between his daughter's team, Winthop, and a team called Medway/Ashland, Cordes decided to lend a little 6th Man help from his seat in the stands. Whenever the action approached the Medway/Ashland goalie, Cordes aimed a green laser pointer directly at the unsuspecting athlete's eyes.
He's a disgrace to sports dads and Kurt Russell impersonators everywhere.
His efforts to sabotage the game were exposed when the goalie complained. Cordes was ejected from the venue, but unfortunately for Medway/Ashland, the damage was done. They went on to lose to Winthrop 3-1.
Naturally, Medway/Ashland parents called foul and asked that the game be replayed, but the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA), the state's governing body for high school sports, upheld the Winthrop win on the grounds that sometimes there's going to be a laser pointer in your eyes when you're tending goal -- deal with it, missy.
Unlike the MIAA, the law wasn't as dismissive of Cordes' actions -- he was charged with disturbing the peace as a result of the incident. To his credit, Cordes admits that he acted "like a complete jerk" and humiliated his daughter.
And you just know there's a good kitty at home that missed that laser pointer while he was out using it to scorch female hockey player retina. Where's that apology?
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"I 'missed' the box. 'Sorry'."
There is a moral to this story, though. Teens, the next time your dad is acting totally lame in front of your friends, just remember it could be much worse. At least he's not trying to blind anyone.