Posts Tagged ‘Washington’
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.
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.
When I go to the park, I take a water bottle, maybe a wagon for the younger kids, some snacks, perhaps light jackets in case there’s a chill in the air. On another planet, there are people who are beside themselves that they can’t bring their guns.
I’ll come right out and say it: I don’t get it. I don’t consider myself crazy anti-gun. I don’t own a gun, probably never will, but that’s not out of any anti-Second Amendment principle. It’s because I have no more interest in owning a gun than I do an expanded special edition of Reese Witherspoon in “Sweet Home Alabama.” I just don’t find it useful to my interests, unless I’m forced to watch “Sweet Home Alabama,” at which time I might want a gun to go all Elvis on the TV.
And I’m certainly not sure why people feel so scared of their shadows that when they go for a nice stroll, or they go to watch their kid’s ballgame, they need to pack heat or their hearts palpitate nervously like me when I show up to a ballgame without a Starbucks grande americano with two Sweet-n-Lows and skim milk.
Indianapolis is the latest place where someone is proposing that people with permits be allowed to pack heat in public parks. That someone is a Libertarian who, philosophically, figures our Second Amendment rights extend to having a Glock in your pocket while you push your child on the swings.
Kid, that swing is taken, if you catch my drift.
In some way, I get that. I don’t agree with it, but I get it. What I don’t get is the reaction of Republican council member Ryan Vaughn, quoted in the Indianapolis Star:
“For the sake of consistency, I think there’s merit in it,” Vaughn said. “You could have citizens who don’t know what kind of park they’re in.”
Don’t know what kind of park they’re in? What is THAT supposed to mean? I don’t know if Vaughn has a racist bone in his body, but it sounds to me like my fellow white man wants his constituents protected in case they somehow stumble across Scary Black Park. (If Vaughn introduces an ordinance to change the names of parks to reflect their racial makeup and crime status, then we’ll know.) The only other way I could see citizens not knowing what kind of park they’re in is if they travel there wrapped inside a sack and then get dumped off the back of a truck.
Fortunately, Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard, a Republican and ex-Marine who presumably knows how to handle a gun, unlike most of the numbnuts who would pack heat at the park, said he would veto allowing guns in the parks, given that in three years in office, by his reckoning, exactly zero people have brought up this issue with him.
Still, that’s not likely to stop pro-gun types, not with victories such as the upcoming lifting of the gun ban in national parks, set to take effect Feb. 22. (It won’t be all Wild West — the park will enforce whatever local gun laws are in place.) Plus, you still have the push-pull in Tennessee, where it became legal to carry in public parks, unless local governments passed a law saying otherwise — and some have.
It doesn’t help the case when you have oddballs like the guy in Seattle who protested his city’s new ban on guns in the parks by taking a pistol to a dog show. You know, just in case a shih-tzu looked at him cross-eyed. (Technically, the guy is right — a Washington state law passed in 1983 prevents any locality from passing such a gun ban, and there are lawsuits against the city declaring just that. But still.) Or tragic cases like the mom in Pennsylvania who created a cause celebre by openly carrying a weapon at her kid’s soccer game — and then ended up dead by her husband’s hand in a murder-suicide.
The only person I know and would trust taking a gun to a park for a Sunday walk or a kid’s ballgame is a friend of mine who happens to be an ex-Marine and a Secret Service agent. At least I know he’s trained to be alert for danger and would know how to discharge his weapon without wiping out the opposing team’s parents. Otherwise, it just seems like overkill, no pun intended, for people to bring guns along. If you’re feeling tense and nervous at the ballpark, I would recommend a strong cup of coffee instead.
“Junior high Paterno” is the nom de guerre the Tacoma (Wash.) News Tribune affixed to one Barry Crust, who is in his last year coaching middle school sports at Hudtloff Middle School in Lakewood, Wash. That’s not because Crust has coke bottle bottoms on his glasses, wears white socks with any shoes, and found late-career success by loosening his recruiting standards to include more criminals. It’s because Crust is old.
Crust started at Lakewood in 1967 and never went anywhere else, beginning his career one year after Paterno took the head job for Penn State’s football team and never went anywhere else. As the News Tribune itself noted, all Paterno had to do was coach football. By the newspaper’s calculation, Crust has coached the equivalent of 117 seasons — a “baseball coach for 42 years, a wrestling coach for 31 years, a football coach for 26 years, a fastpitch coach for 14 years. Factor in a couple of years of basketball and one each for track and volleyball … .” Crust retired as a physical education teacher in 1997, but he’ll finish his 118th and final season in the spring of 2010 when he coach’s Hudtloff’s baseball team.
The News Tribune asked Crust how kids and sports have changed over 42 years, naturally. Crust’s answers are not what you’d call, well, crusty:
– Girls aren’t just stuck in intramurals anymore, something Crust thought was “silly” and “unfair.”
– Other than being bigger and faster, and having different hairstyles, kids haven’t really changed much over the years.
– The biggest change has been the decline of the all-around athlete.
Crust fears the concept of the all-around athlete has been compromised by a youth-sports culture that demands specialized talents.
“We’ll have an after-school baseball practice from 3:15 to 5,” he said, “and then the kids are picked up for their next practice, which goes until 7. What that means is I’m not their only coach, so I’ve got to be flexible.
“Take bunting. If you don’t know how to bunt, I’ll show you. But if you’ve learned a different technique from somebody else, I don’t want to waste our time trying to undo everything.”
Interestingly, Crust credits spreading himself coaching over multiple sports as a reason why he lasted so long.
Not that Crust bemoans the relative brevity of any junior high sports season. To the contrary, he believes the schedule – two weeks of practice, five weeks of games, everything wrapped up in two months – kept him fresh during the three decades he spent as full-time P.E. instructor and busy-bodied coach.
It sounds like Crust kept some perspective about youth sports and his role in them. No wonder he appears to be retiring happy, and on his own terms.
I’m back from a family vacation to the Washington, DC, area. Like the Minnesota State High School League, I determined my four kids needed a week without sports. More accurately, they needed their father to take a week off from writing about them.
I bathed my feet in the fountain of the World War II Memorial (it’s what Tom Hanks would have wanted) to prepare myself to wade back into the cesspool of youth sports. Before I do that, a few fun vacation memories:
– The revisionist historians at the Manassas National Battlefield Park (a Confederate re-enactor who, not in character, buttonholed us about how much Lincoln loved slavery) and the National Museum of the Marine Corps (one more chorus from someone claiming we would have won Vietnam if the damn politicians hadn’t gotten in the way). A docent at the Marine Corps Museum shared one explanation he heard about why the Iwo Jima flag on display had only 48 stars: “Alaska and Canada hadn’t become states yet.”
– The dramarama at Six Flags America. My 12-year-old son and I witnessed two girlfights, including one that finished with each girl looking like they were worked over by Freddy Kreuger. That same fight featured two boyfriends who clearly did not want to get involved, but who yelled at each other because they figured they’d better look like they were doing something. (“Don’t make me come at you!” “No, don’t make me come at YOU!”) Also, my son and I got stuck on the Joker’s Jinx for 15 minutes, which sent me into a claustrophobic frenzy, always a good example to set in a crisis with your kid sitting next to you.
– How my kids, my 6-year-old son in particular, turned the Gen. Sherman statute outside the White House into the coolest slide ever, thanks to its wide, curving bannisters. That son also got at least two other kids yelled at by their parents when they tried to copy him. The Cook family is a bad, bad influence.
Look at those bannisters! How could you resist?
My blogging and reporting is going to be a bit more sporadic this upcoming week because I and the family are in the Washington, DC, metro area for a vacation. We thought, “When is the most miserable fucking weather time of year to go to Washington? Mid-July? Perfect!” Amazingly, the temperature is in the 80s, and the humidity is somewhere south of what is required for the family anole to live. Barack Obama IS the Messiah!
Anyway, a quick youth sports noted in my travels. Driving in between the Manassas National Battlefield and the National Museum of the Marine Corps (both fascinating visits, not the least of reasons for all the revisionist history proferred by some of their visitors), I noticed the Coles Little League field south of Manassas. It was noticeable because it shares the same driveway as the Prince William County landfill. In a lot of major-league parks, at home plate you see the beautiful city skyline. At Coles, you see a massive, grassy hill full of garbage. That smell is not coming from your hot dog.
By the way, the Kane County Cougars, a Class-A team in Geneva, Ill., is also hard by a landfill. I know the land is cheap, but sometimes it’s for a reason.
You know what happens when you enlist kids from the baseball team you coach to help you with a burglary? Punny newspaper ledes, that’s what. From the Everett (Wash.) Herald:
ARLINGTON — An Arlington Little League coach is accused of showing some of his players how to steal more than second base.
Investigators allege that George Spady Jr. was with his son, a nephew and another player from his baseball team when he broke into a vacant shop and took overhead lights and bolts. The boys were encouraged to assist with the break-in, Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Edirin Okoloko wrote in court documents.
Spady, 31, was charged Monday with second-degree burglary, a felony.
Snohomish County sheriff’s deputies were called to one of the players’ homes after the boy told his stepfather that his coach had taken him along to break into a shop in Arlington, Okoloko wrote.
The stepfather was angry that an adult would use the boys to commit a crime, and, even worse, “that the adult was his son’s baseball coach,” Okoloko wrote.
I can see the lede now if a coach ever takes his team to a hooker: “A local baseball coach showed his kids ways to get to third base besides hitting a triple.”
If Jodi Scheffler, the Kirkland, Wash., Little League mom facing criminal charges for allegedly attacking a 12-year-old Little League player she said was taunting her son, has any hope, it’s what happened in a New Brunswick, N.J., courtroom on Friday. Not that Washington courts pay New Jersey courts any legal mind, but at least it shows you can attack someone who did wrong to your child and not have it blotch your permanent record, at least in the non-Internet world.
Former wrestling coach Phillip Sandford, following a mistrial, pleaded guilty to charges he assaulted a wrestler he believed was unduly beating up his son. (The clip is here.) If Sandford undergoes anger management, stays away from Sayreville wrestling matches for two years (Sayreville being the hometown of the wrestler he tackled) and doesn’t coach youth sports for that same period, there will be no record of his conviction or sentence.
Maybe if things aren’t looking so good for Scheffler, she can get herself one of those deals. Though I’m not sure it helps that some of her friends wore “Team Jodi” T-shirts for a recent game, the first against the team featuring the player she was alleged to have hit.
The headline says: “Charges filed in Little League brouhaha.” The story appears to be another case of a parent gone wild in a toxic youth sports environment. Me, I see many, many small, bad decisions that escalated to a large, unfortunate case that is going to stain the life of a mother who mistakenly thought she was doing the right thing by sticking up for her child.
The case involves Jodi Scheffler, 41, of Kirkland, Wash., seen at right wearing a very unfortunate hat for her Facebook profile given the circumstances: she’s charged with assaulting a 12-year-old after a Little League game. Here is the story as told by KOMO-TV in Seattle.
The reports say … Scheffler … left her side of the field and got into an altercation with boys from the visiting team. Name-calling escalated and then Scheffler allegedly grabbed the boy’s face.
Scheffler told Kirkland police that the 12-year-old visiting player was calling her son a loser and taunting him during the game.
Charging papers say she told the boy and his brother to stop talking to her son. They told her to shut up and called her a “dumb blond.” The report says she then called them “white trash,” then allegedly grabbed the boy’s face.
Now the mother of the 12-year-old boy, Michelle McLaughlin, is furious and speaking out.
“He’s scared,” McLaughlin says. “He asks me every day we play a game, ‘Is she gonna be there? Is she gonna hit me?’”
But Scheffler told police that McLaughlin’s husband chest-butted her.
“According to witnesses, the only thing my husband did was yelling at her from 30 feet away to get away from my kids – and charged up to her, asking her politely to go away, ‘Back up, get away from my kids,’” says McLaughlin. “But as far as the chest-butting – that’s a lie.”
No charges have been filed against McLaughlin’s husband. She says she’s the one who decided to file charges against Scheffler.
“Maybe she’ll learn to keep her anger to herself,” McLaughlin says.
The Little League president calls this an unfortunate incident. Longtime coaches, meanwhile, say they haven’t seen anything like it.
Some parents feel the whole thing is being blown out of proportion. But Scheffler faces a year in jail if she’s convicted.
I wasn’t there, but I think, from my informed-enough-to-be-dangerous knowledge of sports parent-child interactions, what mistakes might have been made along the way to turn this game into a brouhaha. Or maybe it’s more like a row. Or a set-to. Maybe a melee.
The first one was made by Scheffler, of course. I know it stinks to watch little brats trash your baby. The parents should have taught their children to be respectful, and the coaches should have tried to stop the trash-talking (maybe they did — the story doesn’t say). Even after she confronted the boys, that’s pretty ballsy of 12-year-olds to call a grown woman a “dumb blond.”
But no adult should never, never, never, never, never, never, ever, ever, ever, ever, confront someone else’s kid before, during or after a game. As a parent, you can (calmly) talk to your own coach. You can talk to the league vice president or president. But there’s no point in jumping on someone else’s kid, or even the opposing coach, in the heat of the moment. If you’re that upset, better to just pack you stuff and go home. The 24-hour rule applies. Otherwise, you risk making an ass out of yourself, embarrassing your child, and risking assault charges.
The second one was made by Michelle McLaughlin. Let’s assume her husband did not chest-bump anyone, though it would be a first for me to see a charged up/ask politely combination. Like Scheffler, it sounds like in this report that McLaughlin could wear a drama queen hat herself. As stupid as it was for Scheffler to do what she did, all McLaughlin needed to do was take her kids and go home. She seems ready to have Scheffler charged just out of spite — “maybe she’ll learn to keep her anger to herself.” Takes one to know one.
I highly doubt Scheffler will face a year in jail. I wouldn’t be shocked if the charges are dropped for something so relatively petty. However the legal case turns out, nobody — not Scheffler, not McLaughlin, not the kids in question — acquitted themselves well. But I’m not going to add my overreaction to the overreaction at hand. The league should ban Scheffler from games, and let players and coaches know they will be ejected from games and/or suspended if taunting continues.
In fact, the league itself should take a closer look at the conduct during its games. I would guess that Jodi Scheffler isn’t the first Little League mom to have the urge to attack when no one was doing anything to protect their kids.
Marc Fisher of the Washington Post documents some of the fighting that has gone on in DC, and elsewhere, over lights in public parks and other facilities turned on for the purposes of youth sports leagues.
Fisher, rightly, says having lights on for a few hours at night is not going to kill anybody, even though opponents make it sound like the fields are lit up with spent nuclear rods that are draining uranium through their windows. He links to a particularly high-larious site put out (but not updated in a while) by presumably some crabby apple in Glendora, Calif. The best part is the sound files of what you might hear at a park during a game — cheering, I tell you, cheering!
Get off my publicly financed lawn!
Fisher rightly takes down the opponents as overreacting, kid-hating, snooty douchebags. Hey, if you don’t like the sounds of kids playing, don’t live by the park! In fact, I would put these folks in the same category as:
– People who live by the airport and complain about the noise.
– People who live in a bustling downtown area, and complain about the traffic and parking
– People who live in a farming area and complain about the smell
– People who move out to a suburb’s Sphincterous Acres subdivision and complain when more houses and shops are built (Note: this isn’t so much of a problem lately.)
Certainly, a youth sports league using a park should be a good neighbor, doing things like cleaning up after itself, ensuring parking is adequate and not playing all through the night, just like a farmer would be a good neighbor to do something to mitigate the smell of hundreds of thousands of pooping chickens. But, sheesh, if you want to complain about goings-on in a park, complain about raving bands of hooligans, sexual liaisons on the sly and leftover needles. Not kids playing ball.
Today a Washington State Senate committee passed a bill that seeks to address gender inequities in youth athletics. The bill it passed was not the original version filed two weeks ago. Depending on your point of view, the new version of the bill either addresses legitimate problems regarding equal access and funding of boys’ and girls’ sports, or strips away any enforcement mechanism in such a way that makes the legislation an exercise in do-nothing do-goodism.
The bill seeks to be the second (behind similar legislation passed in California in 2004) to require publicly funded organizations, whether they be park districts, cities, townships or counties, that administer youth sports or youth sports facilities to prepare a formal statement saying they will not discriminate “against any person on the basis of sex in the operation, conduct, or administration of community athletics programs for youth or adults.”
Privately run leagues aren’t off the hook. If they lease or use any public facility, they need to prepare an anti-discrimination statement as well.
Why aren’t schools require to create such policies? Because schools are covered under Title IX. (However, third-parties using school facilities still must have an anti-discrimination policy).
Here is Washington state Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, testifying for the bill. She is one of the sponsors, and she says that in some cases boys programs are still getting preferred funding or access:
You might note her referencing a substitute bill worked out with various “stakeholders.” Presumably, though no one has said so yet, those stakeholders include parks and recreation officials. They found unworkable the original bill’s insistence on task forces (paid for with private money of an unknown source) to study the extent of gender discrimination and the establishment of public grievance procedures (paid for by the potentially offending party) if any parent complained of discrimination. Also, by 2018, it would not have been enough to defend oneself by showing you had a history of attempting to equalize funding and participation rates consistent with the male-female ratio in your purview. If you didn’t, you could be screwed.
Thus, all those parts were stripped out of the bill, lest it not pass because of the fear that cash-strapped municipalities and park districts would end up shoving the knife even further into youth sports than it would otherwise.
So what’s left is a requirement about adding anti-discrimination language, which doesn’t seem like much. But it would be more than 48 other states have done. While I haven’t run into obvious cases of discrimination involving my daughters yet (one of whom is only three, so it’s not like she’s had a chance), no doubt there are plenty of places where boys get the meat and girls get the scraps. An anti-discrimination policy is the least any youth sports organization or facilities manager can do.
I would come down on the side saying it’s a good thing the onerous legalese and paperwork requirements were cut out of the bill, but then again I’m a man, so what do I know? Having codified anti-discrimination language does at least give aggrieved girls and their parents an greater opening to fight if needed — and give leagues and facilities’ lawyers one more very good way to advise their clients how not to get sued. I suspect even with this watered-down bill, some girls in Washington are going to be helped.
As for the boys? I doubt they’ll be tossed onto to the street — unless there is some parks manager deciding to act like a jerk just to make the bill, and the girls, look bad.