Charity game honors victim of ‘sports rage’

first_imgLANCASTER – Nearly 18 months have passed since a 13-year-old boy fatally struck 15-year-old Jeremy Rourke on the head with a baseball bat at a Palmdale PONY league field concession stand. On a sunny Sunday afternoon at Clear Channel Stadium, the National Association Against Youth Violence in Sports, a charity founded by Jeremy’s parents, Brian and Angela, designed to raise awareness about a growing “sports rage” trend that claimed the life of their son, held its inaugural Jeremy Rourke Celebrity Softball Game. The celebrity team included actors Fred Willard, who’s starred in feature films “Best in Show” and “The Anchorman,” among others, Michael Dudikoff (“American Ninja”), and former UCLA and NFL star defensive back Kermit Alexander. They played a community team made up of friends and family of the Rourke’s. Angela Rourke said the charity group wants to make athletes at all levels of competitive sports aware that their actions have consequences. She noted an incident in a Major League Baseball game around the same time of her son’s death last season, when Texas Rangers pitcher Kenny Rodgers in a fit of rage tossed a chair into the stands at a fan who was heckling him, as an example of “over-the-top” professional athletes needing to be accountable. “They need to remember that it is just a game and they’re supposed to have fun,” she said. Brian Rourke is taking online sports psychology classes in an effort to grapple with the root causes of sports rage. He is looking for answers to what triggered the 13-year-old boy to snap, even though he knows he’ll probably never get them. He said a key element of the foundation is bringing awareness to parents that the pressure many are putting on kids is unhealthy and unacceptable. “The mentality of winning at all costs and using your kids as a 401k plan, that’s really what it comes down to with a lot of these guys and that’s what we’re trying to avoid. That’s what pushes these kids so hard. They can’t leave it on the field anymore. As soon as they walk off the field, they have to live with their parents always harping on them,” Rourke said. “They’ve got to be kids, that’s the biggest thing. We want these kids to go back to being kids.” JetHawks manager Brett Butler applauded the Rourke’s effort, comparing their work to “America’s Most Wanted” host John Walsh spearheading a national effort to protect children in the aftermath of his son Adam’s abduction and murder. “Of course we don’t want these things to happen, but when people like that take the initiative to step forward to try to do things to make a safer environment, you have to tip your caps to them,” Butler said. Brian Rourke said the foundation has two other events scheduled for this year, a golf tournament in late September, and a baseball tournament in December. For more information, or to contribute to the foundation, log onto: www.noviolenceinyouthsports.org [email protected] (818) 713-3607160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREFrumpy Middle-aged Mom: My realistic 2020 New Year’s resolutions. Some involve doughnuts.The results of the game – a 9-7 celebrity team victory – was a footnote. “We had fun today,” Angela Rourke said. Angela Rourke believes that fun is the element of youth sports that’s been forgotten amid a “win at all costs” environment that permeates all levels of organized athletics. It is a message the association, also known as the Jeremy Rourke Foundation, wants to get out. “There needs to be some accountability,” Brian Rourke said. “We want to give the game back to the kids.” last_img


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