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There’s no place for sports violence; it’s only a game

Reports of sports-related violence are becoming all toofrequent.

The circumstances surrounding the death of a teenage playerkilled in a baseball-bat attack by the losing team’s pitcher lastweek in California offer a troubling commentary on the state ofyouth sports and society.

The incident happened Tuesday after a Pony League game inPalmdale, Calif. A 13-year-old boy has been charged with murder inthe attack on the 15-year-old.

According to news reports, the two apparently had words in frontof a concession stand after the game. Authorities haven’t commentedon a motive, but the pitcher’s team was undefeated before losing tothe victim’s team, which entered the game with a 1-6 record.

Youth activities should be about sportsmanship, fair play andseeing the better team win – even if on this particular day it wasthe underdog.

Equally troubling, albeit more common, are unfortunate incidentsof sports fans getting involved or interfering with action on thefield of play.

European soccer fans are known for their rabid obsession withthe game. Italian officials are backing zero-tolerance policiesfollowing several recent incidents of fan violence, including onein which a goalkeeper was hit by a flare thrown from thestands.

In the U.S., several Indiana Pacers basketball players weregiven lengthy suspensions after going into the stands to attackfans during a game with the Detroit Pistons earlier this season.The violence started after a cup of water was thrown at one of thePacers players.

Baseball and football also have had their share of incidents,with fans running onto the fields to attack players or coaches orthrowing items onto the field. In some cases, victory celebrationsby fans have resulted in vandalism and mayhem in the streets of thewinning team’s city.

Some sports are by their nature violent, but that violenceshould be confined to the field and within the rules andregulations of the game. Enthusiastic fans are an important part ofany sporting event, but their place is in the stands.

Winning and losing are results of any competition.

Players and fans should be gracious in victory or defeat. Afterall, it’s only a game.