Minnesota Twins fans may remember Corey Koskie as a solid bat in the lineup in the early 2000s.
He’s gaining attention lately for being an advocate for sports officials.
Utilizing the Twitter hashtag #GotToStop, Koskie is relaying stories he’s encountered coaching kids or those that have been sent from parents, coaches, etc. detailing mistreatment of officials.
Some of them read like fiction.
There are stories involve umpires as young as 13 — 13! — sharing how they’ve been berated by a disagreeing coach or fan. Unrelenting vitriol can spew even at games involving 6- and 7-year-olds.
Not to say a grown official should accept disrespect, either, but there’s a reason why we’re experiencing an officials shortage across the country.
Officiating is a great way to make supplemental income and to stay close to a sport you love. But more and more are finding it’s just not worth it.
There are certainly ways to toughen kids up and prepare them for adulthood. But submitting them to an environment where they’re scrutinized at a level unseen in the rest of our daily lives is too far. It’s not being a quitter to decide enough’s enough when verbal harassment becomes all too common at youth games.
It’s not worth the berating, or the snide comments, or the coaches treating each game as if it were life and death. Those who lose sight that it’s just a game can ruin the joy for everyone else at the field.
I do have to say, though, that I’ve been pretty impressed by the decorum at games in and around Faribault.
I think I could count on one hand how many fans, coaches, players, etc., that I’ve seen get kicked out for unruly behavior toward officials. The few that did cross the line appeared to be a few bad apples.
But there’s always room to improve.
If you’re a parent/coach, think to yourself before you head to the next game. ‘Am I supporting my child the best I can? Am I creating an environment for them to learn the lessons the sport is supposed to teach while also having fun?’
‘Can I remember that the officials are human, and that they’re not out to get my team?’ ‘If an official makes a mistake, how can I point it out without being disrepectful?’
Maybe it’s my relaxed demanor. Maybe it’s the thousands of games I’ve watched at this point in my life.
But I just can’t summon the burning passion to light up an official, regardless of the stakes. I do believe they need to be held accountable, especially if their officiating affects the outcome of the game. That’s why we’ve got officiating coordinators.
It’s cliche, but remember, it’s just a game. Sit back, enjoy and encourage a positive environment.