Updated: Apr 13, 2020
“We provide a place for your family to exhibit sportsmanship. We aren’t responsible for teaching your family sportsmanship.”
Talk about a hot topic! Whew. In February, 2020, we implemented a pre-game good luck line in lieu of a post-game, good game handshake line. You’d think we committed a crime, and critics came out in full force!
So, why did this happen?
Was it because of kids? Coaches? Not really. The truth of the matter, and what seems to be a tough eye-opener for parents, is the single biggest reason we implemented this new policy was simply because of parents being out of control during post-games.
During post-game handshakes, we have recordings of adult men/parents, waiting at conclusion of hand-shake lines to wave fingers in 7th grade girls player’s faces yelling, “bullies!”, and mother’s, walking across the court after games, approaching officials, and coaches in the hand-shake line chastising and threatening behavior. Situations, where if happening at a state high school league game, or college game, authorities would be called, and escorted out of the building.
Post-game handshakes were replaced with pre-game, good luck fist pumps to help monitor and be preventative, instead of regretful for not doing something in advance. Have you ever seen a railroad crossing go from “stop and look” for trains to a gate that comes down preventing any movement while a train roaring.. ONLY AFTER A DEATH OCCURS. In all walks of life, action is taken, only after something terrible happens. We decided to take action before instead of waiting for an regretful, WE SHOULD HAVE DONE SOMETHING.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Upon doing so, a lot of people who never have set a foot in our building, went on social media and chastised us. People who have never run a youth sporting event, or ever taken a risk management course, complained and put the blame on us for taking action.
However, on the other end, administrators in school districts, college coaches, and witnesses of situations that have occurred all over the region outside of our event reached out with “congratulations for taking a stand, and thinking ahead”, or “we admire what you are doing and see it all the time. It’s about time someone took a leadership role and changed the environment”. We realize everyone has an opinion. As the Owner and Founder of P2P Sports, I care more about your child’s safety than I ever do about someone’s opinion. After 30 years of being involved in youth sporting events, and paying attention to trends nationally, regionally and locally (even at P2P from time to time), I decided enough-was-enough, and we were going to look at protecting parents from their own lack of judgment.
The question I have had for years is… “Do post-game handshakes teach sportsmanship? Is it our responsibility as an organization to teach your children sportsmanship or do we provide a venue and event that allows you to exhibit whether you have it or not?”
Is it the employer’s responsibility to teach you a work ethic, or do they hire you and provide you with a desk, and opportunity to exhibit if you have it or not? Are teachers responsible to teach student’s discipline needed to become a good student, with success, or do they simply teach during the day, hour after hour, day after day, and then the students go home, and work on completing the assignments, studying and performing on the tests provided?
The naïve and foolish approach is saying one of two things.
1. “It won’t ever happen here” or
2. “Just throw people out who violate and you solve the problem!” Both statements are uniformed and wishful thinking, and the easy way to avoid the situation, and not take the time to improve the environment. As part of the criticism, many, who haven’t ever run an event, or any formal education in risk management, or experience in youth sports… even those who had never been to P2P Sports to ever watch a game or participate were the most vocal experts… “It’s all about the money!” was a common cry and theme. “Just throw the parents out!”, cried many. Humorous. If it was that easy!
If it was about the money, we’d never bring it up and simply go through the way it has been for years. Let it ride! Aslo ignore these situations and take the easy route and just believe “that’s the way it is in youth sports”.
A few people online indicated, “well... just throw them out and post the videos online!” and referenced our decision because of money. Certainly.. The $6.00 per person of lost revenue in spectator admission was going to bankrupt us! 😊… Or our throwing out an entire team and a mere hundred bucks…
Shaming parents, and embarrassing their children isn’t solving the problem. In today’s world of bullying at school and suicidal rates at an all-time high, the last thing we want to perpetuate is kids using the video footage of adults to tease, and emotionally torment their classmates. It happens already for the little reasons, and we aren’t going to be another reason for a child to be hurt and ridiculed.
We invited the Windsor Police Department in for a six month trial to help with community outreach programs, and safety inside our Event Center, only to have parents tell us, “you make us feel like criminals by having the police walk around during games!” We couldn’t win either way! While we were doing a great job to help young children and teenagers feel good about the police, the perpetrators of our conduct rules felt uncomfortable! Funny stuff.
We’ve made a decision to evaluate a better way. We believe in what we are doing, and stand strong in lieu of the criticism, as your children, and preventative is the single most important factor in all we do! If it costs more money to monitor and implement programs, we will do it. Profit has never been the focus of P2P Sports and my involvement, nor will it ever be!
We host over 9000 games a year. Sometimes, 90 games in a day! 6 courts being managed every hour on the hour, with over 500,000 people a year walking into our gyms. I welcome all who are critical of our decisions to become better informed on what this really means for the community and how to help make it more safe for the kids. When I send my 4 year old to school every week, I want to know they are doing everything they can to make sure she comes home happy, and safe, and if it puts more pressure on me to think objectively, I’m okay with that.