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February 23, 2016

True Victory on the Field

“One man practicing sportsmanship is far better than a hundred teaching it.”
– Knute Rockne

It goes without saying, but I’ll say it again anyway: youth sports is out of control.

In my 13+ years of coaching & watching, I’ve…

  • seen a 12yo pitcher look back at his father in fear after every single pitch;
  • broken up an escalating fight between a 7th grade basketball coach and an opposing parent;
  • heard a father brag to me, out loud, that his son played 48 weekends of baseball the previous year;

And, worst of all, I’ve…

  • been chastised by an umpire for screaming in protest at his call on my 6yo, all the while I was donning a hat embroidered with our new sponsor’s logo: ScreamFree Parenting.

Thankfully, we’ve still got the young athletes themselves to show us the way. Surely you’ve seen:

  • the miraculous gesture by the Central Washington softball team carrying their injured opponent around the bases.
  • the incredible effort by the North Dakota cross country runner helping her opponent finish the race
  • the beautiful assist by an El Paso basketball team, helping their disabled team manager finally score a basket

And it’s still happening. This past Saturday I witnessed a high school sophomore get benched for a freshman replacement, yet then be the first one out of the dugout high-fiving his younger teammate after every inning. When asked about it, this was his reply: “He was playing better than me, and he’s my teammate.”

(Apparently, thank God, that sophomore wasn’t ruined by his “ScreamFree” dad’s outburst at the ump all those years ago).

screamfree hal runkel


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