Tyler came over to the fence during his third baseball game of the afternoon. He motioned to me.

“Mom, after this game, I’m calling a family meeting.”

“You are?”

“Yes.”

“What is it about?”

“I’ll tell you at the meeting. I’m just letting you know: it’s happening.”

He wasn’t kidding.

At the end of the game, he gathered the three of us around him, his tribe, his team. We stood under the shade tree at the edge of the park.

He took off his mask and he began. “I have a few things to say, and I want you to listen until I’m finished.”

We nodded.

“I’d like to begin by thanking you for your contributions to my work as an umpire. Mom, thank you for your investment in my uniform and my equipment. Peter, thank you for everything you taught me. I couldn’t have done it without you.”

We nodded. Listening.

“I have learned a lot in the last few weeks as an umpire. I’ve learned that it’s hard work, and I’ve learned that not everyone will always like me and the decisions I make. I’ve learned that my job is my responsibility. I’ve learned conflict management. And I’ve learned that no amount of money is worth this. I’ve also learned that I’m going go to school as long as I need to so I can be in charge of what jobs I have, and I won’t do one where people yell at me all the time. When I’m getting stomachaches at school because I’m worrying about the next game, and when I’m sad to go to school because it’s one day closer to the weekend, then maybe this isn’t a good fit for me. I’ve decided I am finished. I am not doing this anymore.”

His eyes were blazing.  His jaw was set.  He had made up his mind, and he was prepared to argue his points.

Let me be clear about this: When your kid calls a meeting and presents a respectful, polished, five-point outline, he deserves a voice.

It’s hard enough to learn something new.
It’s harder to learn in front of people who are older than you, more mature, bigger, and louder, as they watch your every move.
It’s hardest to learn when people are verbally assaulting you for your decisions, even when you’re not wrong.

As of this week, the league is down one umpire.
He was skilled, qualified, and trained.
He had everything it takes.
His spirit just couldn’t handle it.
He is OUT.

Ease up, sports parents.
Your behavior is appalling, unnecessary, and spirit crushing.

We’re taking our ball and going home.