Posts Tagged ‘A Sporting Dad’s View’

The Boy (my fifteen-year-old) discovered lacrosse at a very late age. He was eleven. He was able to play two years in the local youth league.

He’s a freshman in high school now. He’s already played football and has wrestled at this level. He’s working out with some friends and getting ready for lacrosse tryouts.

I have no idea if he’ll get a spot on the team. I just like the fact that he’s got a goal in mind and is going to fight hard to achieve it.

I like the fact that every coach he’s had in high school so far has encouraged his players to play other high school sports.

The CIAC, which governs middle school and high school sports in Connecticut, includes the following philosophy in its handbook:

SPECIALIZATION OF SPORTS AT AN EARLY AGE

Specialization in one sport during the middle level and high school years, to the exclusion of most others, and too often at the expense of other equally valuable and wholesome activities, is at variance with the basic philosophical premise of American education, which seeks to produce well-rounded individuals with interests and abilities in many areas. Students should be discouraged from devoting all their energies and time to a single sport, but rather should be encouraged to allow themselves the experience of more than one sport. Boards of education should advocate and enact policies which encourage students to seek broadly based athletic experiences as well as broadly based academic programs. The school athletics program as well as community based athletic programs must be kept in perspective as providing experiences of many kinds for our youth.

The objective of the greatest possible personal growth of the student is best served by a varied program of activities, academic and athletic, which keeps proper perspective on the total development of the youngster from adolescence to adulthood, and which allows the student to do and be other things as well. School boards, school administrators, athletic directors, coaches, community recreation personnel and the parents of the student-athlete all have the responsibility of insuring that the student is afforded opportunities in several areas.

The formative years should be a time of growing in mind and body, a time of expanding horizons and outlook, not of specialization and narrowing of interests.

Common sense, right? What type of coach would think he or she had the right to preach anything other than those exact words?

Folks, they are out there. They are at every level of youth sports and planted in almost every town in this state. And it disgusts me. It should disgust you as well.

This is one of thousands of articles on the subject that you can access with a simple search.

So, why am I whining about this today? I just finished telling you how The Boy has been encouraged to play a different sport every season. I just quoted the CIAC handbook. I think I noticed most of your heads nodding in agreement when I suggested it was a common sense approach.

Well, I’m pushing the keys ten times harder than normal today because I just had a discussion with a high school athlete whose coach is pounding him with requests that completely ignore the advice that is clearly printed out for every single middle and high school coach to see.

And one would assume that such advice is clearly printed for all to see because it is expected that each coach will show good judgment by following it.

So, what can be done? It’s almost impossible for the CIAC to know what each and every coach is saying to each and every athlete.

That leaves it up to you – you, the parent of that child. If your son or daughter mentions over a bowl of Wheaties that Coach Jones is upset that he or she wants to play another sport, you have an obligation to that child to have a conversation with that coach – or with your school’s Athletic Director, or with your town’s Superintendant of schools.

If it’s happening at the pre-high school level, you should immediately contact the league president or your town’s recreation department. It is a despicable act of selfishness and poor judgment for ANY coach or league to dictate or insinuate the sports that your child should be playing outside of that sport’s normal season.

Hear me now: If your child wants to play one sport exclusively and you have no issues with it, that’s your decision. But it should never be because you or your child are being pushed or coerced by a coach.

That kid I was talking about? He’s good at his sport. He has just decided that he’s got too many more years of high school left to feel like he is being bullied into playing or training for that one sport year round. He told his coach he was going to do what he wanted to do.

I hope he follows through. It would be a shame if he missed out on being able to enjoy another sport. Of course he is fifteen-years-old already. What is it with kids these days? They just can’t seem to make up their minds.

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I was doing Joe’s laundry. He’s on the fourth floor. The laundry room is located on the first floor. It was my first time. Not my first time doing laundry – just my first time doing Joe’s laundry. 

I was already jacked on caffeine from my own water bottle full of coffee (I put my coffee in a water bottle when I’m in motion) and then the cup that he had forced me to get while picking up his breakfast. 

Yeah, I was jItTeRy – just a bit. 

The laundry room was huge – lots of room to place a basket, jug of laundry soap, and small box of dryer sheets while the machines did their washing and drying. I put the jug and the box inside the small round basket and placed them on the long table-shelf towards the back of the room. 

Joe was still on his way down. We were on our way to Dunkin Donuts because Joe likes to watch the people there. It didn’t take me long to figure out that it was mostly the female people he enjoyed watching. I was taught never to argue with my elders so I watched them as well. 

Joe wanted to get me another cup of coffee. He wanted me to have a large one. So we drank our coffees and we watched people. I watched all of them – both sexes – I swear I did. I used the bathroom four times in between. Damn you peer pressure. 

For a 76-year-old with thick lenses, Joe could follow the movement of a body for a good quarter-mile before it disappeared into a building. He was damn good. 

Finally it was time to get back to the laundry. It was a short ride and a short walk to the elevator. Joe was tired out though. He sat on a bench on the first floor while I went to get the laundry. 

Even before opening the laundry room door I could see that the basket, and the jug, and the little box where no longer on the table-shelf. Being wasted on caffeine and on my way to losing my mind as it is, I figured maybe – just maybe I’d taken them back up. 

First I looked inside every recycling bin in the room – about six of them. I checked the trash as well because old people can hold grudges. Maybe Joe had cut one of them off on the way to a washer one morning. Maybe that person had waited for months until a new guy slipped up and left the goods out in the open. It happens more than you’d think. 

I took his laundry out, folded it, and headed out to find him. He was gone. Jesus, I was hoping they hadn’t kidnapped him as well. Old people have gangs too. And they might not remember to take their meds but they’ll remember being disrespected in a laundry room. 

So he was either gagged and bound in the back of a van on the way to Trenton or he was waiting for me up to the fourth floor. 

The elevator door opened and a woman with a walker cut me off to get the spot near the buttons. I like pushing the buttons too but have become more and more aware of the bacteria that they carry so I didn’t throw any elbows. 

But on the little bench of her walker was a round basket. It was filled with a jug of laundry soap and a small box of dryer sheets. Inside the basket was also her change purse and a plastic cup of water.

I said, “I must be losing my mind. I went to do laundry and now my basket, my jug of laundry soap, and box of dryer sheets are missing.” And I looked down at her basket. My first instinct was to kick the walker out from under her and grab Joe’s things. But she was from the 3rd floor. Her gang of stealing thugs could have been waiting for her. 

She looked at me and said in her Italian accent, “Wella. I tella everybody that the backa shelfa is fora anybody to take-ah. Ita meansa thata you do not want it.” 

“Oh, I said,” thinking that I could probably fight off a gang of old people if she wanted to get tough about it. “But I didn’t know about that rule. I’m new here. I didn’t see a sign. Why is there not a sign?” 

She continued, “Ima very sorry. Everyone knowsa the rulesa here.” 

“You need a sign or something,” I said as the door opened at the 3rd floor. There was nobody in sight. She was working alone. Then she gave in, “Ima sorry. Here you are-ah. Justa remember the rules-ah. 

She took her water and purse and pushed her walker out of the door. 

Joe was sitting on the bench in front of me as the door opened again on the 4th floor. I plopped the basket down next to him – flustered – sweating caffeine. 

“Joe, you will not believe this story.” I explained it to him. About the basket, the table-shelf, and the old lady with the walker. 

“Ohhh yeahhhh. Sure,” Joe said. “I’ve gotten some great stuff off that table. I got some cans of soup, a radio, and some nice clothes. It’s the rule. If you don’t want something you put it on the table for anyone else to take.” 

“But a sign,” I said. “There is no sign. Why is there not a sign? And besides, it was a laundry basket, in a laundry room. It was filled with laundry equipment. The dryer was still running.”

Joe laughed, “I should have told you about the rule. And I am going to go down there later and ask to have a sign put up.”

So, just a warning to the uninitiated: Beware the rules of the common areas.

A few random thoughts today:

I hate when I’m finished with my shower and then realize that I forgot to bring a towel into the bathroom with me. Sometimes I’ll just grab the clothes that I’ve just taken off and use them.

It snowed a bit here in the Northeast over the weekend.

My favorite station on Pandora for when I’m working from home is Acoustic New Age. Check it out sometime. I’m still looking for an app that tells Pandora that I’m still listening though.

When I die, I don’t want to be displayed in a freaking casket with people touching me (I hate being touched) and looking at my double chin and how my goatee doesn’t fill in as nicely as George Clooney’s did in some movie I saw him in. Just sprinkle me somewhere and slap my nameplate on a bench along the bike trail.

I have a NY Giants football card collection with cards dating back to 1948. There are at least nine albums up there in the closet. Kids don’t collect cards like they once did. I remember riding my bike down to Midi Mart or Frank’s Stationary with a pocket of change and then sniffing the fresh cardboard and stale gum. Ah, the scent of a… football card.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice anywhere.” Martin Luther King, Jr. That’s my favorite quote.

If your kid is looking for a great African American figure to talk about in class during Black History Month, try the turn of the century cyclist, Marshall “Major” Taylor. He’s a world champion who most people have never heard about.

Hold on a second please. Where’s that bottle of water? I need a sip – just a sip. I didn’t think five minutes of typing would make me that thirsty.

Remember what Peter Parker’s uncle told him. And remember that if Peter hadn’t let that bad guy go, poor Uncle Ben would still be alive today.

At 49, I still feel like I’m a work in progress. Is that bad?

I can’t stand how impatient some of those investors on Shark Tank get. Sometimes Mark Cuban will say, “I’m a basketball guy so I’m giving you 24 seconds to make up your mind.” Holy cow! It takes me longer than that to punch in my four numbers at the ATM to get twenty bucks, let alone decide my entire future.

A brand new friend of mine emailed a wonderful poem to me last week. It’s called, Please Hear What I Am Not Saying. It’s about the masks we sometimes wear and the words we sometimes speak and how we are often just begging to be heard – to be seen – to be helped.

I’ve been writing a weekly column dedicated to issues surrounding youth sports for about a year and a half. There are a growing number of parents who are unhappy with how some of their community’s programs are being run. Most parents are worried about the repercussions that their child might ultimately suffer if they become one of those parents and express their concerns.

A Sporting Dad’s View covers many of these important topics. Take a click over and check it out. I’d love to hear what you are doing in your town to address some of these issues. And what would you think of a forum where an outside group would come in and meet with an organization’s board members, coaches, and parents with the mission of creating an environment where every child can thrive?

Yes Pandora, I’m STILL listening. Where’s that bottle of water? I need another swig.