Because the phrase “environmentalism” can be applied to a wide-range of human activities, placing volunteerism within its conceptual framework is an entirely viable construct. The Geneva, Switzerland-based International Labour Office considers “volunteerism” a “crucial renewable resource for social and environmental problem-solving the world over.” Human behavior is a vital component of environmental preservation insofar as human conduct plays the largest role in environmental degradation. Social activity or volunteerism contributes to the development of social ethics and environmentalism because it helps to shape proper values and a sense of responsibility in both the volunteer and those, especially children, for whom the volunteer is providing assistance or guidance. As the International Labour Office puts it,
“Because volunteer work not only produces tangible outputs but also gives individuals a sense of self-satisfaction and a feeling of contributing to the progress of society, its measurement is consistent with the International Labour Organization’s emphasis on ‘decent work’ as a means of promoting human agency, dignity and a feeling of self-respect.” [www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---dgreports/---stat/documents/publications/wcms_162119.pdf]
Coaching and otherwise facilitating youth sports like baseball falls squarely within the realm of volunteerism as a social activity that contributes to the improvement of society. Coaching and mentoring children by definition involves the communication of rules of conduct intended to serve the larger – in this case, the team and the league’s – interest and, as the children learn how to conduct themselves with a modicum of responsibility towards their surroundings and towards each other, they become more responsible citizens as they grow and mature. Having said that, it is well known that parent involvement in youth sports with respect to observing practices and games can have a negative effect on children when the parents overstep proper boundaries of behavior and instigate conflict. Even then, though, coaches and umpires have a responsibility to communicate to such parents the need for the good of the children to refrain from interfering in the proceedings.
Coaching youth sports definitely qualifies as a positive contribution to the development of the coaches’ social ethics and to the broader environment. Performed properly, coaching and umpiring involves teaching not just the fundamental of the game but the proper ways in which one should conduct him- or herself in the larger world.