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Youth Football Parents Gone Wild

As a parent with children approaching the age where they might be able to participate in actual sporting events I have spent some time thinking about how I should conduct myself when I go watch them play. My hope is that I can be more controlled than I am when I watch UNC play(for which Tar Heel Wife gives me grief when I do it in the presence of the Tar Heel Children). Of course I am pretty sure I can refrain myself from running onto the field and hitting an opposing player who just committed a late hit on my kid. According to MSNBC:

An assistant youth football coach who allegedly rushed onto the field and assaulted a boy on the opposing team was arrested on suspicion of felony child abuse, police said.

Cory Petero, 36, of Riverbank, turned himself in Saturday night following what witnesses described as a late hit that turned into a brawl, with parents and children from both teams fighting on the field for about 20 minutes.

The video shows one player being hit a good three to four seconds after the play was whistled dead by an opposing player who was twice his size. Petero apparently took exception this and ran onto the field to knock the kid over. Obviously Petero is in the wrong here and needs some counseling to figure out what childhood athletic failure or trauma places spurns him to run out and hit players who commit late hits on his son. Then again I also find much of the reporting on this incident a little strange.

One issue is the boy's father is claiming his son suffered bruises on the stomach and jaw from the assault. Now I have seen the footage and the boy, Brian Wood, 13, is not too much smaller than Petero and the hit itself while pretty hard did not result in a fall any worse than Wood would have endured had he been tackled by another player. I am also curious how Wood could have bruised his stomach and jaw when he is clearly able to break the fall with his hands and immediately rolls into the sitting position and starts to get up? Must be some pretty shoddy football padding they have out there in California. Granted I have not seen the boy nor am I able to but since the police reported no injuries it is a curious revelation coming from the father, who incidentally does not share the same last name as his son and according to The Stockton Record "indentified himself as Wood's father." Not to minimize the crime here but I smell a civil suit on the way.

Another aspect of the video, which in no way justifies Petero's actions, but may have incited them is that fact Wood did commit an extremely egregious late hit. It also should be noted that the other player was half the size of Wood, not the ball carrier, Wood was a blocker not a defender, Wood seems to hit the kid in the back/side and the ball itself several yards away off to the side. In other words this was tatmount to a bully hitting another kid on the playground simply because he could. And it does not matter if Wood did not know the play was dead, what reason does he have for delivering such a shot that far from the ball anyway? Was he afraid the other kid was going to tackle the ball carrier using his mind?

Of course none of this actually matters, other than giving us a brief glimpse into how such occurences are reported and what kind spin gets put on them. Petero was wrong to do what he did. I think felony child abuse is a tad extreme and I suspect he will end up doing community service and some counseling. I also think the hit by Wood was more egregious than a simple late hit. Wood should have been ejected for the hit because it served no purpose since the ball was on the other side of the field and he could have easily let up before delivering it. Petero is an adult and should have the good sense to restrain himself. Life is hard and while the hit was unfair sometimes you have to let your kids endure that suff on their own, as difficult as that may be. On the flip side I also hope that Brian Wood's very concerned father would also take his son aside and inform him that such cheap and unnecessary hits against another player is wrong and could lead to an injury. Though I would not hold my breath on that.