Sports Rage

All Too Common

It's easy to blame such incidents on the hair-trigger tempers of men who were never fit to work with children. Lesmes was substituting for coaches who had been thrown out of the team's previous game. Both Costin and Junta had criminal records.

But that doesn't explain why every Saturday and Sunday, even-tempered, Brazelton-reading moms and dads drive their minivans and SUVs to athletic fields, then turn into screaming bullies. Sideline rage crosses all ethnic, educational, and professional lines. Just ask the 13-year-old soccer referee in Washington, DC, who had to eject a parent -- one of the nation's top law-enforcement officials at the time -- from a match in the early 1990s for badgering the referee over offsides calls.

And while men are more likely than women to lose control and fly into sports fury, testosterone isn't required: After South Brunswick, NJ, police officers broke up a brawl ignited by a 9-year-old-girls' soccer game in September 2000, the mother of a player attacked a female official in the parking lot. Convicted of assault, she was fined $405 and sentenced to 20 hours of community service.

Copyright © 2001. Reprinted with permission from the May 2001 issue of Child magazine

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