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      Cardinal's manager on little league games: "Parents are the problem."

      St. Louis Cardinals Manager Mike Matheny: â??The biggest problem with youth sports has been the parents.â??

      Young athletes are warming up for the start of the summer ball season. Before the first crack of the bat, here's a lead-off observation from St. Louis Cardinals Manager Mike Matheny: The biggest problem with youth sports has been the parents.

      Matheny heads one of the best teams in baseball. He's a former major leaguer himself. But after his professional retirement, Matheny coached his kid's little league team. At the start of the season, he wrote a letter to the parents . It's circulating around the web, and it's worth the time to read.

      Coach Matheny started out stating his three goals for the team:

      1. To teach these young men how to play the game of baseball the right way.2. To be a positive impact on them as young men, and3. To do all of this with class.

      Notice, his goal is not to win. In fact, he wrote, We may not win every game, but we will be the classiest coaches, players, and parents in every game we play. The boys are going to play with a respect for their teammates, opposition, and the umpires no matter what.

      As much as parents want to help their child be successful on the field, Matheny says the best way to do that is to play pitch and catch at home, but at games, just watch.

      I believe that the biggest role of the parent is to be a silent source of encouragement. I think if you ask most boys what they would want their parents to do during the game; they would say 'NOTHING.' I believe that a little league parent feels that they must participate with loud cheering and 'Come on, let's go, you can do it,' which just adds more pressure to the kids. The thing that these boys need to hear is that you enjoyed watching them and you hope that they had fun.

      Some people may find it a bit radical that Matheny thinks saying You can do it! is applying too much pressure to a player. However, that advice dovetails perfectly with a column I wrote earlier in the year. In the referenced article, two professional coach consultants said parents should limit their comments to just one, I love watching you play.

      Matheny says it's a fact that we will not have good umpiring. But he instructs his players and his parents that they are to show no reaction to a bad call whatsoever. No shaking of the head, no pouting, no speaking. It's the coaches job, and his alone, to handle it. If you hand over your kids to me to coach them, then let me do that job, he said.

      Let us know what you think. Is Matheny's advice over the top or right on target? Leave your comments here, or on our Facebook page.

      Take care~Sarah D.