Lead by example: Be an adult at sporting events

For generations, parents and grandparents have pointed to the youth they are raising and bemoaned the failings of “today’s youth.” The problem with such criticism, of course, is that those young people are often simply following the example that has been set by their elders.

A prime example of such bad behavior comes at high school sporting events, when it is sometimes the “adults” in the stands behaving so badly it negatively affects everyone around them. The harassment from alleged grownups in the stands has become so toxic it is being blamed for the shortage of men and women willing to act as referees at high school sporting events. The Ohio High School Athletic Association has had enough.

“When you attend an athletic event that involves your son or daughter, cheer to your heart’s content, enjoy the camaraderie that high school sports offer and have fun. But when it comes to verbally criticizing game officials or coaches, cool it,” the association said in an open letter to parents Monday.

“Make no mistake about it. Your passion is admired, and your support of the hometown team is needed. But so is your self-control. Yelling, screaming and berating the officials humiliates your child, annoys those sitting around you, embarrasses your child’s school and is the primary reason Ohio has an alarming shortage of high school officials,” the letter said.

Sadly, it would have been appropriate for the OHSAA to also remind fans not to yell at, scream at and berate the children playing the games, either — particularly their own kids.

Folks, if you cannot control such behavior, don’t go to the games. But the truth is you can, for the kids’ sake.

In fact, the OHSAA offers one last suggestion: If you are that passionate, be part of the solution and register to become a licensed official.

“Otherwise, adult role models at high school athletic events here in Ohio are always welcome,” the letter says.

Don’t just sit around hoping your children will be better people than you have been. Be an adult. Be a role model. Show them.