A massive brawl broke out Sunday between an AAU team and the referees at the end of a tournament in Georgia. Here, unfortunately, is a clip from the melee:
To make it plain, the team on the floor, the R.A.W. Athletics team from Chicago, lacks what my mother would call “home training.” For the uninitiated, home training is the type of social instruction parents provide young people; teaching them how to respect others and themselves.
Home training includes the usage of the words sir and ma’am. We were taught to never raise our voices to an adult, much less our fists. If there was a problem with a coach, teacher, referee or other authority figure, our parents told us to bring it to them and they would handle the issue.
My mom once told me, “Son, you could be 100% right and the adult could be as wrong as two left shoes, but you’re a child. And a child needs to stay in a child’s place.” This line of thinking may seem archaic, but I was a teenager in the 90’s, so it wasn’t that long ago.
What our parents taught us was a precursor to knowing your role. Kids are not adults and should never take on the adult role, in high pressure situations or otherwise. The kids on the R.A.W. team were losing the game and they were frustrated. Instead of clenching their jaws and huffing and puffing to themselves as a lot of kids would do, they stepped out of their role.
In the video, you may have noticed two kids in darker uniforms standing beyond half court. They disappeared from view as the situation deteriorated. Those were kids from the opposing team. Their coach pulled them from the floor and got them away from the fight.
The R.A.W. kids showed they don’t know how to handle a loss, don’t know how to respect adults and don’t care what others think of them or their community. This has to change. Kids who can’t be controlled by their parents and coaches often end up controlled by the criminal justice system.
Leagues of all types are having problems finding referees. Due to the behavior of the kids, parents and coaches, fewer and fewer people want to be refs because of the abuse they take.
This is on us as adults. We have to stop saying the refs are cheating us when we don’t get a call. Even if the official missed the call, what we’re saying aloud is other adults are intentionally trying to cheat kids. Young people take what we say as the gospel truth.
They hear every word we say about the refs and what we wish we could do to the refs. We have to stop. We have to give our kids the home training that was given to us. If not, there won’t be any games. And it won’t be because of concussions, lack of facilities or equipment. It’ll be because kids, parents and coaches don’t know how to act.