If you have a child that participates in youth sports, you know that tensions can run high — sometimes comically so. People often say or do things, that they’ll later regret, when they’re caught up in the moment.
It appears that’s what happened in late February this year when a Texas coach and mom, Jessica Curs, was escorted out of a game she was coaching by an irate off-duty officer — Alvarado police department’s Captain Gary Melson — who claims that Curs was using profanity and called him “a dick.”
This story has a lot of “he said, she said,” and it goes a little like this:
She said: Curs maintains that she was just minding her own business, coaching, when a man on the sidelines started heckling her. She says, “The whole game, they’re saying little things at me, like quiet, so the coaches hear it, my husband hears it, the monitor heard it.” Toward the end of the game, she’d had enough, and this is where she allegedly called him a dick. He then escorted her out of the gym and the police were called. When they arrived, the matter appeared to have been resolved, but then when she arrived at a different school for another game that same day, she was met by a different officer, who gave her a criminal trespass warning. She signed the warning and considered the matter settled. But two months later, she received a warrant for her arrest in the mail for “evading arrest.” She spent six hours in jail. But, it still wasn’t over. An investigation by a local news station showed that the county planned to file the same charges against her on Monday, which could have carried a three-year sentence if she were found guilty. Those were dropped on Wednesday.
He said (according to an APD statement on Facebook, now deleted): “Curs screamed out a profanity, namely using the word ‘dick,’ in front of bleachers full of parents and kids. This action caused numerous parents to rise to their feet and began confronting Curs, complaining, and demanding action from APD Capt. Melson. Capt. Melson approached Curs and instructed her to step outside the area of play to deescalate the situation. This is where the matter could have been resolved with Curs being told to refrain from using profane language in public. Capt. Melson asked Curs three times, showed her his badge/department identification card, told her he was a police officer, and that she needed to step aside and speak with him. Curs committed the offense of disorderly conduct.”
There wasn’t any further comment regarding the criminal trespass, arrest warrant or evading arrest charges that were filed later.
All of this begs the question: What kind of behavior is tolerable at a kid’s athletic event? It’s no secret that sports parents get a bad rap. They can be overly competitive, pushy and downright verbally abusive — not just to opponents and coaches, but to their own kids. It seems like every fall there’s another story about parents behaving badly at events that should be nothing more than a little friendly competition between children.
It’s all a byproduct of getting way too wrapped up in the game. Parents today are more likely to view themselves and their children as part of a “unit.” If you have a child in sports, how often do you refer to yourselves as “we”: “We have practice every Thursday,” or “We’re really excited to be going to Nationals!”
Stop doing that. Your child plays soccer (or basketball, or football, or roller derby), not you. It’s fine to be invested in your child’s interests and successes, but intertwining yourself inexorably in them can be damaging, and turn them off completely. In a survey of kids aged 8-15, a whopping 90 percent of kids say they would rather lose a game than not play at all — and 71 percent said they wouldn’t care if no one kept score. So it’s likely you have more invested in that peewee scrimmage than the kids actually playing it do.
On the other hand, sometimes sports parents are going to get overexcited and slip up once in awhile. Who among us has not dropped an F-bomb in the heat of the moment, particularly if we’re coaching in some respect, like Curs was? If Melson really was harassing Curs as she claims he was, it’s hard to blame her for calling him out on it. The events that came after seem like a massive overreaction, and suggest that he had something personal invested in the rival coach. Profanity at a kid’s game might be wildly inappropriate, but is it really an offense worthy of arrest?
In the end, we should all attempt to be better behaved when we’re standing on the sidelines, setting an example for our kids. However, if you have to choose between letting a dirty word slip or relentlessly badgering a coach for nine months, go with the former. The latter is just plain absurd.