Your Kid’s Not Going Pro

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Coaches: Just because attacking a crazy parent is legal and satisfying does not make it wise

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A Pennsylvania girls high school basketball coach goes all Ron Artest on a heckling parent but gets acquitted of criminal charges. From the Allentown Morning Call:

A Lehigh County district judge ruled Tuesday that the former girls basketball coach at Salisbury High School was not guilty of disorderly conduct when he went into the stands during a game last month and scuffled with a player’s father for heckling him all game long.

“I know the popular belief is that the worst part of coaching youth sports is dealing with parents,” said District Judge Anthony Rapp. “If there ever was a case where that is true, it’s here.”

Ken Shankweiler, who resigned from the team days after the Dec. 20 incident, had been charged with disorderly conduct for allegedly placing his hands around the neck of John Hrebik, the father of junior guard Caitlin Hrebik, during a game against Wilson Area High School, which Salisbury lost 62-19.

Shankweiler, 52, of Hanover Township, Northampton County, admitted Tuesday that he had been trying to avoid Hrebik’s repeated heckling as his team struggled early in the game against Wilson, but ultimately couldn’t. He said he had previous run-ins with Hrebik, who admitted that he had been told by school officials to tone down his criticism or stop going to games.

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“Now Artest Shankweiler has jumped over the scorers’ table, and is trying to get down to the bench! Artest Shankweiler is in the stands! Oh, this is awful!”

Yes, a true jury of Shankweiler’s peers — coaches who have had it with overbearing parents — would have set him free. In this case, it was just a judge. Not that Shankweiler got off scot-free. He resigned as coach on Dec. 22, two days after the incident. He also apologized for his actions.

The judge didn’t exactly give a hearty endorsement of Shankweiler’s Terry O’Reilly impersonation:

While he could not find Shankweiler guilty, Rapp said “morally, I think the whole thing stinks.”

“We are supposed to be the intelligent, responsible adults and we let a basketball game come to this,” he said. “What happened to letting the kids have fun first?”

The judge let the dork parent have it, too:

“If you are going to be attending anymore games, be a spectator, a silent spectator,” he said. “These are not professional athletes.”

Interestingly, Hrebik referees local ballgames and is a basketball tournament organizer. The sports editor of the Allentown Morning Call had to recuse himself from the story because he identified Hrebik as a “good friend.”

No word on whether Wilson Area High School was apologetic about the 43-point scoring margin, or whether the head coach was fired for it.

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