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“Kids haven’t changed; it’s the parents” – Column by Joe Ferolito

I may step on somebody’s toes while writing this column. So be it.

This past weekend I officiated a Dixie Girl’s Darlings district softball tournament in Sneads. For those uninformed the Darlings Division is girl’s ages 6 to 8.

The basic rules are the team’s coach pitches five balls to each batter unless the player hits a fair ball or strikes out in less than the five pitches. If on the fifth pitch the batter fouls the ball then she still gets to bat until she hits it fair, strikes out, or lets the pitch go by. Then her term at bat ends.

Each team can send no more than ten batters to plate in an inning and if the defensive teams throws to a preceding base or to the plate before the 10th batter gets there, the inning is over, no matter how many are out.

This is a good rule, it keeps a team from constantly batting and it’s structured both ways. The game is over after five innings or if a team is mathematically unable to catch up.

There is also a fair overthrow rule and the game is pretty easy to officiate. Every little girl in the games I had were sweet as they could be, tried their best, and seemed to enjoy the game like it should be enjoyed. And I gladly say that 85 to 90 percent of the coaches and parents were pleasurable.

But then there were those that worried more about batting straps, the patches on shirts, the fielders wearing mask, and whatever else they could come up with. Also, not many were well versed on the playing rules of the game, thus time was taken up on explanations.

A lot of the parents were, like society has become, lemmings.

If some uninformed fan should say something about a rule, you would start hearing chirping by other fans. Thank goodness, sometimes there were knowledgeable fans in the stands to tell them they were wrong.

I’ve been officiating youth sports for right at 50 years. I can tell you kids haven’t changed. They still get tickled and excited over playing and putting on that uniform. They could still care less about winning and losing at that age (case in point, several teams that lost were eating pizzas 10 minutes after the game and having a ball).

And bless them, there were some parents enjoying pizza with them.

But there were also some ranting, blaming a rule, the coach, or an official for the loss. Because today we have a bunch of folks that know everything.

Kids will still be kids, today or 50 years from now. I just hope maybe these kids don’t grow up to become like many of the adults amongst us: experts on everything, entitled, and it’s always someone else’s fault when you lose.

By Joe Ferolito