Youth Athletics Have Turned Violent Around The Globe | But Where Are The Parents?

Video screen shot

There is an alarming trend in youth sports where athletes are starting to act out against the competition or even the game officiants.

From basketball to tennis, and from Georgia to Ghana, youth athletics is turning violent, and regardless of the circumstances, vigilantism can never be tolerated in sports.

Basketball Brawl

In a basketball tournament in Lithonia, Georgia, things went out of control when a brawl set off at an event called “Love of the Game.”

At Stronghold Christian Church, where the event was held, a group of eighth grade students approached and attacked a referee just after the game ended. The motive for the attack is still unclear, but the results were glaring.

According to reports, the official needed 30 stitches to close wounds sustained in the attack. Fortunately, the official is expected to recover fully, but the visual impact is jarring.

No Supervision Much?

According to reports, the competitive event was coordinated by Kenneth Tarver of KB Sports. Although the tournament was not an Amateur Athletic Union (AAU)-sanctioned event, reports show that Tarver has banned the attacking team from future events.

Moreover, it opens the question: where were the coaches and parents? At no time does anyone intervene to stop the beatdown. It shines a light on intervention and protocol when negative energy is escalating on either the sidelines or the court.

At no point do we see any adults intervening in the attack. Whether parents watching from the stands, other referees, or tournament officials, everyone just stood back and allowed the attack to happen.

Ghanian Tennis Gaffe

According to reports, Tarver said he would “beef up security” at future events but, sadly, it is not the only incident of youth sports vigilantism recently.

Earlier this week, a junior tennis player was caught on camera slapping his opponent after their match. A 15-year-old tennis player named Michael Kouame put hand to face on 16-year-old Raphael Nii Ankrah after losing an ITF juniors tournament in Ghana.

However, unlike the basketball incident, Kouame has apologized for his actions on social media. According to the young player, he was bothered by an apparent heckler who stepped over the line; his emotions got the best of him.

Kouame Apologizes

“I was repeatedly verbally abused by a large number of individuals in the crowd, including insults to my mother in particular,” Kouame posted.

“However, that does not excuse my behavior.”

In addition, Kouame also apologized to Ankrah and is willing to accept the discipline officials will more than likely issue towards him.

“[I] will use this time to reflect on how I can better manage challenging situations like these in the future in a manner that accurately reflects my character,” Kouame said.

Under Review

According to the International Tennis Federation, Kouame, the 606th ranked junior player, entered the match as the No. 1 seed in the Tennis Foundation Ghana Open.

Kouame fell to Ankrah in three straight sets, 6-2, 6-7, 7-6.

According to reports, the ITF issued a statement that it is “reviewing the matter further under the code of conduct for the ITF World Tennis Tour Juniors to establish if any further action is required.”

Youth athletics is a backbone of success going into adulthood for many. However, discipline has always been at its core.

Rhett Butler is a Boxing Writer Association of America Journalist, Play-By-Play Commentator, Combat Sports Insider, and Former Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing Promoter. The New York City native honed his skills at various news outlets including but not limited to: TIME Magazine, Money Magazine, CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, and more. Rhett hosts the PRITTY Left Hook podcast, a polarizing combat sports insider's take featuring the world's biggest names.