Locals cry 'foul ball' over softball brawl in Tennessee


This past weekend, an argument between parents and fans at a USA Softball-sponsored game in Klingsport, Tennessee turned into a bench-clearing brawl. While nobody was injured or arrested, there were some who left hurt: the girls.

President of the Central Alabama Softball Umpire Association P. Ron Wilder has been in his postion for 11 years. After countless balls and strike calls, is intimately familiar with parents' complaints, but he's never seen anything like what happened in Tennessee.

"We are human," Wilder said. "We make mistakes. We have to make calls in the moment. We do not have the luxury of replay. You have got to make judgment calls in an instant. Being human, we miss it sometimes. We make mistakes. Nobody purposely does it, but we are human."

Wilder said at the high school level, the umpires' jurisdiction is between the two white lines. If they notice fans getting rowdy, they contact administrators, who in turn, handle the situation. He called this past weekend's incident both disturbing and unfortunate.

"[It's] disturbing for the fact that you would see grown adults acting that way publicly over a softball game," Wilder said. "It is just a game. World peace is not at stake. Nobody's livelihood is at stake. It is a game for 12-year-olds. [It's] unfortunate because the girls suffered the most. The two teams have been disqualified from ever participating in a USA Softball Tournament in the future."

Cissy Johnson is a local softball parent. She too has seen parents yell from the stands, but she is similarly shocked by the recent softball brawl.

"I think it sends the wrong message to our kids that the right way to get your way is to create an argument, to make your point known, and that is just not the way to handle it," Johnson said. "I have a hard time not cheering some for the other girls because you are in tournaments with the same teams week after week. You build those relationships with those parents and you truly want those girls to do well. Yeah, we want to win, but it is about growing. It is about growing and learning. Our focus is building our girls up, and at the same time, not tearing down somebody else."

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