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Mother uses stun gun to zap son’s football coach

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From the Times-Union in Jacksonville, Fla:

A Pop Warner football coach was zapped with a stun gun Tuesday night during an argument with a parent at Sandalwood High School, Jacksonville police said.

Now 43-year-old Roxine Cornela Cobb of the 700 block of Oaks Plantation Drive in Arlington has been arrested on charges of battery and discharging a weapon on school grounds, according to the police report.

Robert Medley II told police he had argued with the woman and her son who plays on his football team Monday night. The confrontation resumed about 6:15 p.m. the next day when the woman walked up to Medley and zapped him in the chest with the stun gun, the arrest report said.

Medley, 41, said he slapped the stun gun out of her hand and the argument ended as police arrived. Cobb told police she didn’t think she actually zapped him.

Two witnesses confirmed the coach’s account, police said.

Pressed for further comment about how he felt about this turn of events, the coach said: “Shocked.”

Written by rkcookjr

October 15, 2010 at 4:39 pm

Concussions: More of a silent killer than we knew

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As a youth sports coach, I’m taught to look for concussion symptoms to help a player avoid further damage. However, new research is showing that the damage could already be happening even if a player is showing no outward signs of injury. From the Chicago Tribune:

…[A] new study of an Indiana high school football team hints that some athletes are suffering brain injuries that go undiagnosed, allowing the players to continue getting battered, unaware of the possible cognitive damage that has been done.

Of 21 high school players monitored for a full season by a team of researchers from Purdue University, four players who were never diagnosed with concussions were found to have suffered brain impairment that was at least as bad as that of other players who had been deemed concussed and removed from play.

“They’re not exhibiting any outward sign and they’re continuing to play,” said Thomas Talavage, an associate professor at the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering at Purdue and the lead researcher on the study. “The cognitive impairment that we observed with them is actually worse than the one observed with the concussed players.”

The report, published in the latest edition of the Journal of Neurotrauma, found that some players received more than 1,800 hits to the head during practices and games, some with a force 20 times greater than what a person would feel while riding a roller coaster.

The research is coming out as the debate rages over what is more damaging: one hard, individual hit, or the cumulative effects of multiple collisions. The science is rapidly pointing to the latter. It helps explain why the brain of the late Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chris Henry showed concussion damage, even though he was never diagnosed with such a condition, and why the brain of Penn player Owen Thomas, who committed suicide in August, showed trauma, even though he had never been diagnosed with a concussion.

In the Chicago Tribune article, players and coaches aren’t dismissive of the study’s results. Their worry is more about whether their players and teammates will play hard if they’re worried about head injuries.

“It’s a tough slope because you could end up scaring kids away from even playing football, and you see that a lot,” said Michael Holmes, the football coach at Leo High School in Chicago. “We make our kids conscious of it, but we don’t try to scare them.”

Reilly O’Toole, quarterback at Wheaton [Ill.] Warrenville South High School, said he doesn’t think at all about head injuries.

“If you think about injuries or concussions, that’s when they happen,” he said. “Once you start playing not to get hurt, that’s when you get hurt. It’s a contact sport. If you don’t like contact, you shouldn’t be playing.”

The Purdue researchers aren’t (yet) calling for the end of tackle football, but they are recommend scaling back full-contact practices so kids don’t have to take so many hits.

By the way, the Purdue researchers, citing their continuing study, are not telling the Lafayette Jefferson High players which of the four have signs of, not to put too fine a point on it, brain damage. If it were my kid, I would be demanding to know if mine was one of the four.

Angry football coach launches a moon shot

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Courtesy of Steve Griffith at Wacky Youth Sports Dad comes a piece from the New York Daily News about a high school football game that ended with many involved showing themselves to be asses, which inspired one assistant coach to show them his ass.

A wild melee at a high school football game in Queens ended ugly Saturday when an assistant coach dropped his drawers and mooned the opposing team’s spectators.

The Boys and Girls High School volunteer assistant bared his backside to fans of the home team, Campus Magnet, minutes after a shoving match erupted on the field between coaches and school safety officers.

“His fellow coaches were holding him back and he turned around and pulled down his shorts,” said David Sumter, 40, a Campus Magnet parent. “All I saw was his big [rear end].”

I believe Mr. Sumter said “ass,” although it’s possible he made air brackets when he said rear end.

As if it matters why a coach would drop his drawers on the field, apparently that coach — William Miller, as the Daily News identified him — and the Boys and Girls head coach were tossed out of the game after vociferously, non-nakedly protesting the referees’ calling good a Campus Magnet two-point conversion that put Boys and Girls down 16-6 with a few minutes to play. With all the ruckus, the refs shut the game down. Campus Magnet parents began heckling, and that’s why Miller went over to their section, screamed at the fans and, as the Daily News put it, “revealed his caboose.”

Hey, pull up your shorts! (NSFW, obviously)

Apparently Miller, a volunteer, lost his gig over this, according to the Daily News. I wonder if the school told him not to let the door hit a certain part of his body on the way out.

Boy wants to play girls' soccer, so nobody gets to play soccer

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Constance McMillen, a lesbian girl who wanted to bring a date to the prom and panicked her school into canceling the whole damn thing — you have a straight, male doppelganger in Port Angeles, Wash.

OK, I’ll give you that the fight of Spencer May — or, technically, his parents — to play in a girls’ league because not enough players sign up for the boys’ league is not exactly the modern morality play of homosexuality in America, and the extreme reaction in some corners against it. The ACLU isn’t even involved. However, the reaction to their actions is very similar.

When the ACLU spoke up on McMillen’s desire to bring a female date, in opposition to Itawamba County Agricultural High’s policy of opposite-sex dates only, the school shut down the prom. When May’s parents threatened to sue the Port Angeles Youth Soccer Club for not allowing their son to play in a girls’ spring soccer league, the club suspended the league.

In the spirit of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament coverage, here’s a live look-in at the action in Port Angeles.

Here’s what happened, according to the soccer organization:

“The Port Angeles Youth Soccer Club has temporarily postponed its Spring league. The season has not been cancelled at this time, and the club hopes to  resume practices and play soon. The club is currently addressing a very serious allegation of discrimination by the parents of a boy who is unable to play because of low enrollment among the older boys soccer division.

The club decided to postpone the season after the parents of the boy twice disrupted a girls team’s practices and gave the board good reason to believe that further disruptions of practices and games would occur if the club did not agree to the parents’ demands to allow the boy to play on a girls team.

In 2009, the club elected to discontinue co-ed play for most age groups. The club’s experience with co-ed play for children 8 years of age and older was that it did not provide boys and girls the best opportunity to develop their soccer skills and learn a love for the game. The club believes that was and is the right decision.

The boy’s parents were pressuring the club to make decisions quickly, and the reason for the postponement is to give the club the time it needs to address the issue responsibly.

The club does not discriminate against any child who wants to play soccer. The club opened its enrollment to boys and girls, and did not prohibit any age-qualified children from enrolling because of their gender. This is not about a boy being prohibited from playing soccer. It is about not enough older boys signing up to play soccer.”

We are not able to comment further at this time.

The statement was prompted by inquiries from the local newspaper, the Peninsula Daily News. Its gardening columnist is the father complaining and threatening a lawsuit if his son isn’t allowed to play, creating the growing concern of the league by sowing seeds of discontent. The newspaper quotes the soccer association as saying 24 girls and 13 boys signed up for the U14 (14 and under) league for the spring, the former enough to create three eight-player teams, and the latter not enough to form any number of teams. Port Angeles also has fall leagues that are more popular, and the newspaper figures it’s getting edged out by baseball.

However, the May family didn’t sit idly by while Spencer was without soccer. From the Peninsula Daily News:

Spencer May learned that there was a U14 girls team practicing at his own school, Stevens Middle School. He heard about it from one of the girls on the team, his father said.

Spencer May began practicing with the team.

“He was accepted by the girls on the team,” Andrew May said.

At the third practice, the board kicked Spencer off the girls team and offered to refund his registration, his father said.

“Spencer practiced twice, and early in the third practice when the team started running drills, the coach called [the league president], who told me they would refund our registration and Spencer could not practice with the girls,” Andrew May said.

Spencer May’s parents did not accept the refund and insisted that Spencer was a member of that team, the parents wrote in e-mails to the board. …

May’s parents threatened legal action, and demanded that Spencer and all 12 boys who had signed up get to play with the girls. The family cited an expansion of Title IX that took effect in Washington Jan. 1 as the legal basis for their complaint.

I have a prediction for the Mays family — Constance McMillen has a better shot, legally, at going to the Itawamba prom than you son has of playing soccer with the girls. It’s possible Port Angeles Soccer might let your son and others play just to not have to spend the money on a lawsuit, or if they realize that they need your money. But I predict the league would win in court.

The first reason is that the Port Angeles Youth Soccer Club isn’t even covered by the Washington law. That specifically states that the discrimination law applies to those leagues run by a city or publicly funded parks and recreation program. While the Port Angeles Youth Soccer Club phone number and web site are listed in the city’s parks guide, the club itself is not a public entity.

Courts have been fairly consistent about not making non-public athletic authorities responsible for gender equity, even if the private organization does have some public connections. For example, in a 2006 ruling denying a male gymnast the right to join his high school’s girls’ team — even though there was no boys team — a Wisconsin appeals court denied the request because the lawsuit was against the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association, which was not a public entity despite its membership being mostly public schools.

Every court hasn’t ruled along those lines. The reason boys play field hockey on girls’ teams in Massachusetts is because of a 1979 court ruling saying they could not be barred. But a Title IX/state law case against a nonpublic athletic entity is no sure thing.

The other problem for the Mays is that courts don’t necessarily, even in the case of public entities, claim discrimination if there is no equivalent male program when there is one for females. One reason is because girls, historically, have had the record of being discriminated against (hence, why Title IX exists), and that maintaining girls’ opportunities is paramount even if boys feel they have been victimized. Another is that courts often look at whether there are, overall, sufficient athletic opportunities for boys, even if they aren’t in the sports they want.

The attorney for the Port Angeles league, should it come to this, could argue fairly effectively that there is already a fall soccer league, so there is ample opportunity for boys to play the sport. Plus, the community has all sorts of sporting opportunities for boys and girls, so even if Spencer can’t play soccer in the spring, he has opportunities. But given the private nature of the soccer league, I doubt the argument well get that far.

It’s not Constance McMillen’s fault that her prom was canceled, and despite the May family being as wrong as McMillen is right, it’s not Spencer May’s fault that the Port Angeles soccer season is on hold. However, unless Port Angeles merely doesn’t want a fight from one vocal set of parents (and assuming no one else would object if the league knuckled under), I would expect to see Constance McMillen in her prom tuxedo sooner than I would Spencer May in his spring Port Angeles soccer kit.

My 7-year-old and 4-year-old start their basketball careers…

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…and I hope I didn’t wait too long.

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The competition is so far ahead, maybe my kids shouldn’t bother.

My 7-year-old son, already a regular in baseball and bowling, on Tuesday will begin his first basketball clinic. His 4-year-old sister is doing the same. She was particularly insistent. We asked her if she wanted to do gymnastic or dance (two activities in which she showed some interest), but she replied, over and over, “Bask-ska-ball.” I guess I should’ve known, the day as a 3-year-old she parked at the little kids’ pop-a-shot in the arcade during one of my son’s bowling matches.

So maybe my daughter is coming in at the right age. By age 6, I should have her in travel ball, and by age 10, she should be on the radar of college recruiters, and by age 13, her knees should be shot. Sadly, with my 7-year-old son starting so late, it appears that all he can look forward to in his athletic future is beers at the bowling alley.

Written by rkcookjr

January 24, 2010 at 10:10 pm

When your team always loses

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The headlines in my area are about embattled Chicago Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro and embattled Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith, whose tenures might be growing ever shorter because their troubled teams appear to be getting worse by the day. Given my experience so far with my basketball team, I feel their desperation.

No, the Alsip (Ill.) Park District does not have a general manager ready to pull the trigger on me, nor have I appeared on the back of a local tabloid newspaper with someone yelling I have to go, nor has firebobcook.com been registered. Yet.

But like Del Negro and Smith, I am dealing with a team that is circling down the dirty toilet drain of losing.

I have coached teams that have lost more than they won — a lot more. But I have never coached a team that seemed so dispirited about it, and I’m not sure what to do. Sure, fifth- and sixth-grade coed basketball is not the NBA. I’ve got a lot of kids who have never played organized basketball before, and what I’m afraid of is the losing is sapping any love they might develop for the game. Their body language, increasingly, seems to give that message.

I’ve tried to make the point that the scoreboard doesn’t matter. I’ve tried to make the point that if they play as hard as they’re capable of, if they are good teammates, if they hustle, the scoreboard will take care of itself. But I can see the body language of my team when we start another game down 6-0 or 8-0 in the blink of an eye. For a few games, the kids worked hard to come back, and lost by only a basket. Now, five games in, they don’t have that same spunk to come back, and the losing only gets worse.   On Saturday, we lost to a team by 15 that we had previously only lost to by 2.

Vinny Del Negro and Lovie Smith know what I’m talking about.

[youtubevid id=”5TjWOVUZeJo”]

We’re the perfect lodger, the perfect guest.

I don’t mean to keep the focus on winning and losing. But what’s happening is because of their reaction to losing, I feel like I’m failing in my goal — making every kid on that team a better basketball player. I’ve tried cajoling. I’ve tried pushing. I’ve tried being angry. I’ve tried being nice. I’ve tried letting them know how much I care. I’ve tried letting them know how good I think they are and can be. I’ve tried to make it fun. I’ve tried not saying anything. But nothing works to get them motivated to keep their heads up and not feel the strain of losing.

One big difference between myself and Vinny Del Negro is that on my level, it’s not assumed that players are supposed to care about their basketball development. I have a lot of kids for whom this year might be their only year.

I hate to draw big parallels between basketball and this game we call life, but that might be last straw to get them to at least feel better about themselves and give the game, and themselves, a sporting chance. What I want them to know is that no matter what the scoreboard says, they are not losers. Not to me. And that there is a valuable lesson to be learned through this.

When faced with a losing streak — whether it’s in school, with your personal life or in basketball — you have two choices. You can fight, or you can give up. Often, the instinct is to give up, because fighting is too hard. You might still lose. But only one decision GUARANTEES you’ll lose — and that decision is giving up. Sometimes the decision you make to fight something now doesn’t result in winning now — but fight enough, and you will win.

Am I crazy for wanting to tell them this? I just want to make sure they enjoy the rest of the season, and come back for another one.

Then again, if the issue is that a lot of them, in the end, just don’t care that much about basketball, then there’s not a whole lot I can do about that. As a youth coach, the guilty feeling you always have is that you’re the reason they don’t care.

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Not what you want as the official post-practice song.

Written by rkcookjr

December 13, 2009 at 11:34 pm

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