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Leave it up to the adults to screw things up

Joe Centers • Jul 29, 2014 at 12:01 AM

It happens too often.

You are sitting at a youth baseball game, volleyball match, football game or any kind of competition.

It's all about the kids -- until the adults get involved.

We were in the Reflector working last Tuesday night when a call came in over the scanner. There was some trouble at the VFW fields after a Lefty Grove League game.

League commissioner Scott Ford said it was a minor scuffle with some words said. Ford, who has been in charge of the league the last three decades, puts out a lot of little fires throughout the season. With that many teams and players, you are going to have some problems.

The key, he said, is to keep them to a minimum and to do that you need to have the right people in charge.

It's the same in the adult leagues. Norwalk has one of the biggest adult programs in this part of the state, highlighted by its strong softball leagues at Baines Park. On any given night you can have 12 games scheduled on three fields -- 24 teams with at least 10 players on a team. There are summer and fall leagues for men, women and co-ed teams.

As the summer wears on and the temperature goes up, like today, the fuses get shorter for both the players and the umpires.

It's all part of the game, as long as it doesn't get out of hand.

That's what happened last month in Livonia, Mich., a Detroit suburb, when a referee was killed in an adult soccer match.

The referee died from injuries after being assaulted by a player.

John Bieniewicz, 44, of Westland, Mich., was refereeing an adult soccer match when he was punched in the head after issuing a red card to a player, ejecting the player from the match. Bieniewicz was pronounced dead two days after the assault.

When officers and Livonia Advanced Life Support arrived at the field, they found the referee on the ground unconscious.

The attacker fled from the field right after the incident. He surrendered to police the next day.

Baseel Abdul-Amir Saad, 36, of Dearborn, originally was arraigned by District Judge Sean Kavanaugh of assault to do great bodily harm less than murder, a felony. Saad now faces second-degree murder charges.

A fit of rage left one man dead and another man facing murder charges.

People have to remember it is just a game. We all get upset. I have been there before. There were a number of times when I had too much to say, but I never crossed that line. As I get older and look back on it, I realize it wasn't the smartest thing to do.

Especially with the youth games, people should remember when they act like fools, it's their children who suffer the most. How embarrassing is it for the children when their parents get out of control?

It's just something to think about as the summer winds down and school is right around the corner. It could be a junior high football game or a varsity volleyball match. It could be a fall softball game at Baines Park.

Stop and think before you say or do something. Take a deep breath and cool down.

Remember, it's just a game.

Joe Centers is the Reflector managing editor. He can be reached via e-mail at jcenters@norwalkreflector.com.

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