I looked upon pure evil today: viciousness, cruelty, and rage, delivered from parent to child. He didn’t hit her, though I have little doubt he would. Truthfully, though, I cannot imagine that to beat the child would do any more net damage than the humiliating, scornful dressing down he delivered point blank in front of her friends and a large group of horrified strangers.

The girl is 8 years old, as are her teammates and everyone else playing in the tournament. She might be the only girl playing on any of the teams, and I only mention her sex because the pronouns of our language force me to. I’d have been just as horrified had it happened to any of the boys, I’m certain. I also doubt his venom was due to her sex. He could have unloaded on any of them.

Her crimes: first, mishandling a softly hit ground ball, and then, on the next play, fielding a smash cleanly but throwing to the wrong base. A coach, possibly (hopefully? or not?) her father, called time out, and pulled her out of the game. He screamed at some other kid to grab his fucking glove and get out there. She ran across the field to their dugout where he was waiting. He proceeded to scream at her for what seemed like an hour but was probably two or three minutes. His face was inches from hers; his posture, menacing and aggressive, leaning forward and advancing slowly with small steps. She was recoiled, leaning back, clearly terrified, fighting tears as she looked up at this monster, six or seven times her size, as he shook with rage. She had the look of one who knew that if she started to cry, it’d get worse.

When he’d finished, he turned away and refused to look at her. She was truly beneath his contempt, dead to him at that moment. It had to be his own daughter, right? If her parents were there, why did they not intervene and stop this abuse? Do they think this sort of coaching is fine?

And what is my culpability here? I know that getting involved would surely have led to violence. He and his minions would have beaten me savagely, and all of them being thrown in jail for it would be little comfort to me in the hospital. Yet I feel sick, five hours later, for not doing something. I feel like a coward. I watched child abuse and did nothing. That no one else did doesn’t help, either. I will be troubled by this a long time.

Kayley is her name. She got back in the game later, and I found myself rooting for her—rooting against my own child’s team. She played well and her team won by one. Their parents carried on like they’d just won the World Series, screaming, yelling. I wanted our guys to win this game, but surely someone else will send those assholes home before the championship game. If they could only beat a ragtag bunch like us by 1, they aren’t that good.

But the baseball doesn’t matter. I just can’t get over what I saw. I can’t get over that no one did anything. We all just let it happen.

Good luck, Kayley. You’re gonna need it.