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In the Crossfire

Do parents need rule book for kids' sports?

(CNN) -- New Jersey Gov. James E. McGreevey has signed a law permitting school boards and youth organizations to write codes of conduct for students, coaches, officials and parents to attend athletic events.

Those who break the rules will have to get anger management counseling before they can return to the ballpark. Are kids' sports so out of control that a playbook is needed?

Fred Engh, president of the National Alliance for Youth Sports and author of "Why Johnny Hates Sports," and sports radio talk-show host Steak Shapiro step into the "Crossfire" with hosts James Carville and Tucker Carlson.

CARLSON: ... [I]n New Jersey, I think there are going to be problems. I want to read you a quote from Joe Graziano, who is the state director of Little League in New Jersey. And this is -- he says: "If the state comes out with a code, who is going to enforce it? Little League doesn't want the state to tell them it has to enforce it. We barely have enough volunteers to run the program."

Aren't we possibly going to screw up Little League in an effort to save it?

ENGH: Of course not. What we have to remember here is this is not an indictment on every parent out there that has got kids in sports. It's a limited number, but the limited number are causing tremendous problems out there. We have seen deaths. We've seen people going to hospitals. And it's not isolated situations.

Listen, for 25 years I've been working on this. I founded this organization [National Alliance for Youth Sports]. Today it has 3,000 chapters. If those people that are parks and recreation department people across this country who see it on a daily basis didn't see the problem, I wouldn't be sitting here talking to you.

CARLSON: But honestly, is someone who is going to kill another parent at a hockey game, I mean, you're not going to be -- that sort of animal is not going to be deterred by a law or anger management classes, is it?

SHAPIRO: People get killed walking into a mall. Are we going to have a code of conduct for how to shop on Saturday? You can take any situation where people are brought together, and there is going to be an incident.

But let's not confuse -- the fact is, if parents are out of control, they're ostracized in the community; they're banned from going to their kids' games. For someone who has to spend time sending parents to anger management to figure out how to behave at a game, I don't think it's that complicated, Fred. And I understand there is a problem, but this is taking it too far.

CARVILLE: Honestly, I don't see where there's a problem. If you go to a Little League game and you misbehave, you ought to at least go to anger management. I think the state of New Jersey is doing something halfway rational and intelligent here. And just because I go to 15 places and I don't see anybody get raped, that's not an excuse not to have rape laws. And I don't understand where you guys are coming from on this.

SHAPIRO: James, you want your politicians spending time coming up with laws taking time out from everything else going on in the world? You've got to come up with, let's be nice to Johnny when he plays Little League? I mean, I think it's common sense. There are enough Little League games going on where nothing happens. I don't think you got to worry about it.

CARVILLE: I think kids see enough damn violence. And I want my politicians spending time to do what they can to alleviate violence at Little League sports.

SHAPIRO: James, I thought you were tougher than that.

CARLSON: Mr. Engh, just very quickly, do you think that this sort of chowderhead parent who gets into a fight at a Little League game is really going to have his behavior changed by anger management or "Kumbaya" or whatever they're going to do?

ENGH: Absolutely. Because you know what? What we have allowed them to do is simply get away with murder before. We have parents out there; there are many jerks that are out there with kids in sports. And they need to be eliminated. We don't need to have them around children.

What we need to look at, more importantly than all of this, is why do we have sports for children? It's there for a wonderful opportunity to teach them wonderful rules of life such as teamwork, how to win and lose with grace, all of the things that we need to be good citizens in this society. That's the important thing -- that we need to be educating parents before we have to ban them.

CARVILLE: Remember when we used to say, "Kill the umpire"? You guys are saying, "Don't say kill the umpire, kill the umpire."

SHAPIRO: Unfortunately, Fred is one of the only guys who was happy with a tie in the Major League Baseball All-Star Game. Nobody had to win; nobody had to lose. It was all nice. I mean, come on!



 
 
 
 


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