Your Kid’s Not Going Pro

A Youth Sports Blog

Archive for April 2010

How bullying can happen: mass parental indifference

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You don’t have to be a parent who explicitly encourages your child’s bullying behavior, or knows of it and doesn’t discourage it, for such abuse to happen at school. Sometimes, all it takes is good people doing nothing.

Such as at East Middle School in Biscoe, N.C., where 12 students face juvenile charges for sexually hazing and bullying 13 younger members of the school baseball and soccer teams. Fox 8 News in Greensboro is reporting the efforts the school is making to get counseling for the victims and institute new anti-bullying programs.

But the school already tried reaching out to parents three months beforehand — and their efforts were met with a collective shoulder-shrug.

From Fox 8:

Officials at East Middle School held a poorly attended bullying awareness and prevention program for parents just three months before a dozen students face assault and sexual battery charges in connection with a sports team hazing ritual.

Attendance records show six parents attended the program, which was held in January.

I can’t get too haughty about how East Middle School parents must be horrible and ignorant, because my son’s junior high hosted a cyberbullying session for parents, complete with a speaker from Vermont whose son committed suicide after a long stretch of being on the receiving end of such activity. About 150 chairs were set up in the school gym. Counting me, seven parents showed up.

Of course, some parents don’t show because they’re working, or they can’t get child care. But, really, these pitiful numbers speak — to me, anyway — about how much parents want to put their heads in the sand about bullying and hazing. They figure if their kid isn’t a bully, or a victim, who cares? Or, more than that, they could never imagine their child in either position, so why bother? Or, worse yet, they chalk up such behavior as a normal part of growing up, so kids should just suck it up and tough it out — just like they did.

I don’t think the schools — or myself — are asking for parents to be rabid anti-bullying activists. It would be nice, though, if they would acknowledge that the behavior exists, and it’s not a good thing.

How about a sports boycott of Arizona?

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It’s all the rage to boycott Arizona for its legislature being stone xenophobes. Or boycott anything with Arizona in the name, like Arizona Iced Tea, which is made in New York. (However, I draw the line at no longer watching and quoting “Raising Arizona.” “I’ll take these Huggies, and all the cash you got in your drawer.” “Son, you got a panty on your head.”)

This rage for rage, all over the new state law that, and I’m paraphrasing, allows — nay, demands —  for police to rustle up Latinos for pleasure (when I explained how police would be compelled to ask anyone “suspicious” of being illegal for “papers,” my 12-year-old son Godwinned it right away: “Like the Jews in Nazi Germany!”) is extending into the sports arena as well, specifically in athletic pontificators pontificating that major leagues should make sure to strip Arizona of any major events planned there, such as the 2011 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, and not to plan any more.

Greg Esposito at the Phoenix fan site Fanster doesn’t like the idea of a boycott.

In [ columnist Mike] Freeman’s piece he says, if a person believes that sports leagues should stay out of politics than they live “on a unicorn ranch”.

I don’t live on a unicorn ranch, but I do live in Arizona, and I can’t change what some legislators decided was a good idea. Neither can the Fiesta Bowl, the Arizona Diamondbacks or any other professional sports team in this state. Boycotting games of teams and people who didn’t have anything directly to do with the law seems like cutting off your nose to spite your face.

Believe it or not, Arizona is a lot like the rest of America, divided. For every person who sees the current immigration law as a good idea there is at least one who doesn’t. The only difference is, the state legislature doesn’t currently have that same balance.

Hey, stop trying to be reasonable here. We’re trying to make a point!

I hear what he’s saying, but unfortunately the only way to get Arizonans to consider changing the dim bulbs in their legislature is to take drastic action. And for sports, this can come at the youth level as well.

For example, if you’d like to really sock Arizona in the wallet, put pressure on U.S. Youth Soccer to yank the 2012 Far West Regionals out of the state. The Major League Baseball All-Star Game might bring the top players in baseball and high-rolling sponsors, but a soccer tournament brings scads of kids and free-spending soccer moms and dads. I bet the losing the soccer tournament would be a bigger hit.

I’m sure there are other multi-state youth sports events going on Arizona. So, travel parents, don’t send your kids, and put pressure on your organization to pull out. Make Arizona’s sports insides an economic rocky place where your seed will find no purchase.

Dammit, I’m sorry. I still can’t support a boycott of quoting “Raising Arizona.”

Carmel hazing update: A grand jury is called, and a lawsuit is on the way

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One of the two prosecutors involved with investigating criminal charges related to hazing by Carmel (Ind.) High School basketball team members said in March that she didn’t see any reason for her inquiry to go “on and on.” Yet it’s nearly May, and on and on the criminal case goes — just as it appears a civil case is just beginning.

The latest development in the criminal investigation is that Hamilton County prosecutor Sonia Leerkamp, investigating a police report of hazing inside the Carmel locker room on Jan. 8 that may involve a sex crime, has called a grand jury to hear evidence in that case.

Fox59 in Indianapolis is reporting that the grand jury, which convened April 23, also is hearing evidence regarding three players accused of possible sex crimes for a Jan. 22 hazing incident that took place on the 100-mile bus ride back to the north Indianapolis suburb from a game in Terre Haute.

Other outlets are reporting merely that Hendricks County prosecutor Pat Baldwin’s investigation is taking longer than expected because there are “just more people to hear from.” Hendricks County, located west of Indianapolis, is the venue for that investigation because any crime is alleged to have taken place while the bus was motoring along there.

In any case, why a grand jury? Here is an explanation from WIBC radio in Indianapolis that seems to speak to a common reason why youth sports hazing cases don’t get prosecuted — all parties’ tendency to clam up unless legally compelled to speak:

Leerkamp says she turns to a grand jury in cases in which witnesses’ statements need to be pinned down under oath, or to help compel witnesses to testify. She says she’s also used grand juries in cases where she feels the community’s guidance is needed on whether charges should be filed.

In the Carmel case, another factor may be confidentiality. Prosecutors, school officials and Carmel police have released little information about the locker-room accusations and a separate investigation of an incident on the basketball team bus. In both cases, the city of Carmel released only heavily blacked-out versions of the police reports.

Maybe confidentiality wasn’t exactly the right word, but the point is that often those involved in hazing incidents, including the victims, dummy up like mobsters, making it difficult if not impossible for a criminal case to fly.

With a grand jury (available in all federal cases but in only half of states), a prosecutor has a chance to run a rough draft of the case by people from the outside world, and subpoena witnesses to testify. However, in Indiana, there are no guarantees that the accused will take the stand in front of the grand jury. From Gregg Stark, a Carmel-based defense attorney:

Experienced criminal attorneys know to advise a client that he or she need not appear before such a body if they are a target of a criminal investigation or restrict or eliminate their testimony altogether if their appearance could diminish their legal protections and incriminate them where called as a witness.

What might be surprising to people is the fact that a criminal defense lawyer may not appear before a grand jury once the client comes before it to give testimony.

Certainly, both the Hamilton and Hendricks county prosecutors are being extremely careful, as well they should if they want criminal charges to happen, and stick.

A criticism of the grand jury system is that prosecutors can slant the proceedings to get the indictment they want, but I don’t see that happening here. The case is too fragile and politically explosive — with a backlash possible from Carmel basketball supporters and whatever people of power the accused team members might know, or from anyone who feels like authorities have been too accommodating in the name of trying to keep Carmel’s image as a desirable, posh suburb from tarnishing.

Of course, as we might remember from the O.J. Simpson case, a civil suit doesn’t have nearly the hurdles a criminal case does to have every fact straight. If you follow the Carmel hazing case, you could learn this lesson all over again. From WRTV in Indianapolis:

The attorney for one of the victims in an assault involving Carmel High School basketball players has notified the school district that the family plans to sue.

Robert Turner was retained last month by one of two freshman boys who school officials previously said had been hazed by three senior players as the team returned home from a boy’s basketball game in Terre Haute on the night of Jan. 22.

Turner told 6News’ Joanna Massee that the suit will be filed in federal court and will allege, among other things, that the boy’s civil rights were violated.

Written by rkcookjr

April 27, 2010 at 11:15 pm

High school football coach punted for resume padding

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Pity James Allen, the high school sports reporter for the Times Union in Albany, N.Y. He, unlike the Albany school board, fact-checked the resume of Robbin Williams, hired as fourth head coach in four years for the moribund football program at Albany High (3-33 in the last four seasons, 19 straight losses dating back to Oct. 19, 2007). Turns out Williams, a prison guard and former high school assistant, not only padded his resume, but is also a horrible, horrible liar.

A copy of Williams’ resume, obtained by the Times Union, states he has an extensive pro football background, including participation in six NFL training camps, and says he was a member of the [Arena Football League’s] Albany Firebirds in 1993 and 1994.

To attend an NFL training camp, a player must sign a contract with the team. Officials from three of the NFL teams listed on Williams’ resume — the Washington Redskins, New York Giants and New England Patriots — confirmed … no one named Robbin Williams ever participated in any games or had been invited to a training or free-agent camp.

When questioned … Williams stated he had tryouts with six NFL teams lasting one to two days. He said he never signed with a team or attended a training camp. He said he couldn’t specifically remember what he wrote on his resume.

Williams also told the Times Union he was a member of the 1988 Washington Redskins as a replacement player. Replacement players were used in the NFL for three weeks during the 1987 season while the regular players were on strike. Williams never appeared in any game and could not give a specific amount of time he was with the team.

Williams also said … that he “played with the Albany Firebirds during their first season in 1992.” The Albany Firebirds were a member of the Arena Football League and played at the Knickerbocker Arena, now the Times Union Center, from 1990 through 2000.

A story that appeared in the May 21, 1991, edition of the Times Union regarding area players trying to make it with the Firebirds included Williams, who signed a few days earlier, but who was cut before Albany’s June 1 opener. …

When asked … about his time with the Firebirds, Williams said he never appeared in a game for the franchise.

He was then asked if he was a practice player with the team, he said, “You could say I was a practice player.” Williams said he was with the Firebirds for “about one month.”

On his resume, however, Williams states being a Firebirds’ team member in 1993 and 1994.

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Robbin Williams also hedged on whether he made numerous, hammy talk show appearances.

And does Allen get thanked for bringing Williams’ resume fudges to public attention? Of course not.

Allen, lamenting in the April 26 Times Union, a few days after the school board withdrew its offer to Williams:

People who didn’t know me weren’t very flattering in their assessment of my work on this story. I was told I had ulterior motives — that I was out to get Albany High. I even was called a racist more than once because I’m white and Robbin Williams is black.

In other words, a number of the people who read his saga wondered why I pursued this story, or assumed the answer.

The real answer is the story chased me, not the other way around, once Williams started talking and facts started getting fractured. I simply wouldn’t be doing my job unless I looked into something I knew was wrong.

Albany High has made the Washington Post’s list of top high schools in the nation. But the school board must stay out of the way of that business. Because if the way it handled this easily-checked-out football hire is any indication, it’s no wonder the team is in such lousy shape. Then again, if the grief Allen got is indicative of the people who voted in that school board, no wonder it had its collective head up its ass.

Written by rkcookjr

April 27, 2010 at 10:02 am

Lawsuit claims softball coach was Bernie Madoff wanna-be

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Experts on Ponzi schemes will tell you that the victims are often preyed upon by a trusted person in their inner circle, such as a church member, a neighbor, or someone with whom they share an ethnic tie. However, until now, I had never heard of that trusted person being your daughter’s high school softball coach.

Even for Ponzi scheme victims, these softball parents, if a recent lawsuit is to be believed, set new standards for being what Bugs Bunny would call gulli-bulls. If Louisville, Colo., Monarch High coach Richard Dale Mott had an $11 billion fortune and a mansion stocked with expensive cars, why the hell would he be coaching girls’ high school softball? For the investment contacts? To give back to the community? (Boy, if he said that last one, that REALLY should have been a tip-off.)

Technically, what Mott is accused of doing is loan fraud, because he allegedly didn’t even get far enough to “invest” proceeds anymore. But the dynamics are the same.

From the Daily Camera in Boulder, Colo.:

Randy Davenport, who was president of the Monarch Fastpitch Softball Club and whose daughter plays on the team, sued Richard Dale Mott after he said he was unable to recover $80,000 he loaned Mott to fund a supposed gypsum mining operation in Wyoming.

Davenport alleged in his suit that Mott, who resigned as coach from the Louisville high school in December, had promised him a $50,000 interest payment on the loan and had guaranteed the loan with a promissory note.

Mott also got loans from “numerous members of the Monarch High School parent community” that he never repaid, the suit states.

Davenport claimed that Mott, who was hired by the Boulder Valley School District in the summer of 2008, made off with $185,000 total from four or five investors, including himself.

“It’s an expensive lesson and one that I will be paying for,” Davenport said Thursday. “I want to see that guy suffer some kind of consequences for what he’s done.”

According to the Daily Camera story, Davenport said Mott told the parents he had set aside $25 million for each of his children. In reality, Mott lived in a rented house and was hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, and had settled numerous breach-of-contract cases in the past. (The newspaper called various Richard Motts, but it could not find the one in question.)

We can agree that Richard Mott, if he did what Davenport said he did, is a bad person. So is Bernard Madoff. So is Allen Stanford. And so is Nicholas Cosmo, who at least plowed some of the $375 million he apparently swindled out of suckers in his Ponzi scheme back into youth sports.

But jumpin’ Jesus H. Christ on a pogo stick, how greedy and/or dense do you have to be to hand $80,000 over to your daughter’s softball coach to invest in some bullshit you don’t understand, even if the coach is Charles Fuckin’ Schwab? Did the Monarch parents ever, oh, stop by his mansion to check it out? Do a Google search on Mott? Check the Forbes 500 to see if Mott’s name was in it? (At $11 billion, it would have been.) Get statements on the potential investment and run them by a financial adviser? Ask themselves why their daughters’ softball team was coached by a billionaire who needed to hustle parents for money? Find out what gypsum was?

Ponzi scheme experts will tell you that the scammers know what they’re doing, that their delivery is smooth, and that peer pressure can take over good judgment, especially if your friends are getting statements back about how fabulously their investments are doing. As the old saying goes: If it sounds too good to be true, it is. And, if your daughter’s softball coach approaches you with a hot investment, ask why, if the coach is so smart, he or she still can’t figure out how to teach players how to field a ground ball cleanly.

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And if that isn’t enough to help you avoid investment scams, perhaps this video will help. Ahem, her face is up there.

Children are cheating, conniving little snots

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Often, people complaining about the excesses of adults in youth sports hearken back to some halcyon days when children organized their own play. And how that play was fair to all, with everyone getting plenty of playing time, having lots of fun, and joining for laughs and good-natured noogies at the malt shop afterward.

Uh, no. Adults can be assholes, but children can be ruthless. And I can cite more than my own personally observed examples to prove that.

A survey by The Cricket Foundation and the Marlyebone Cricket Club (the self-proclaimed world’s most famous cricket club) found 54% of the approximately 1,000 eight- to 16-year-olds survey witnessed bad sportsmanship. Not once. But in every single game they play.

No surprise with anyone with one of these in the house, but 63% of 14-year-olds report bad sportsmanship every game, leading all ages.

From the Guardian in London:

Among examples of bad sportsmanship cited by those questioned were people pretending to be hurt, punching, kicking, and swearing. One child told researchers: “Boys in school playing rugby pulled a boy to the ground and stood on his knee so he couldn’t score a try.” Another spoke of “being hit by a team member in a hockey game at school in order for them to score.” And a third said: “A boy threw a snooker ball at the other boy he was playing against because the other boy was winning.”

I don’t care that this survey was from Great Britain. Plenty of other research has found that kids in the good ol’ U.S. of A. have been conniving little shits for years, and they’re getting more conniving over time.

But why? Maybe it isn’t all the kids’ fault. Maybe kids are ruthless BECAUSE they’re around adults who are assholes. Specifically, the assholes in their house. More from the Guardian:

Half of parents admit that it is their responsibility to deal with their child’s unfair play, while 28% said it was down to the coach.

So half of parents believe that it ISN’T their responsibility to deal with their child’s unfair play. And at least some of them thinks it’s someone’s responsibility to deal with it, even if it isn’t their own. What’s up with the 22% of parents who didn’t assign any responsibility whatsoever?

I don’t know if what the chicken-and-egg relationship is: whether kids are born little bad sports (a thought that’s occured to anyone with a 2-year-old) and their parents to unteach that behavior, or whether kids are born good and learn to be bad by watching their moral-relativist parents. Interestingly, the cricket survey found that 72% of kids thought unfair play was “cheating,” and only 4% thought pro athletes who cheated were “cool,” so even if some kids cheat, they at least feel a little guilty about it.

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“Who taught you how to cheat like that?” “YOU, DAD! I LEARNED IT FROM YOU, OK!”

The studies that find more children getting more comfortable with more cheating than previous generations is that the growing population of little snots is coming from upper middle-class families, who use cheating and bad sportsmanship to give themselves (or, if it’s the parents, their kids), an advantage in getting on the team, into college, etc.

If that’s true, then the growth religion is not Catholicism, Protestantism, Judaism or Zoroastriansim: it’s consequentialism, the fancy, philosophical way of saying, “The ends justify the means.”

Written by rkcookjr

April 25, 2010 at 9:31 pm

'Crybaby award' winner's life takes even sadder turn

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You might not remember the name Terrence Philo Jr., but you might remember his story.

At his Pleasantville (N.J.) Middle School basketball team’s end-of-season banquet, Terrence’s coach invited him to come to the end-of-season banquet for a special moment. Then, in front of 25 teammates and parents, the coach gave Terrence an award: the “Crybaby Award,” complete with a trophy depicting a baby, and a nameplate misspelled “Terrance.”

The coach claimed it was supposed to be some sort of honor for Terrence’s play and vocal participation, but Terrence wasn’t in on the joke. The 13-year-old was so embarrassed, he refused to come back to school that Monday, and his father said Terrence didn’t even want to go outside. The bad-joke award got national attention, and the coach who issued it, 24-year-old James Guillen, was fired, though he kept his job as a special education teacher.

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That was 2004.

Six years later, Terrence Philo Jr. is back in the news again. It would be nice to say that the traumatizing incident strengthened the honor student’s resolve to treat others well and put himself in a position to help others.

Unfortunately, I can’t say that.

From the Press of Atlantic City:

A Pleasantville teen who made national headlines six years ago for being awarded a “crybaby award” by his middle school basketball coach is accused of leading police on a chase – and now faces assault, gun and drug charges.

Police say an officer was injured while trying to arrest Terrence Philo Jr., 19.

Police told the newspaper that a Pleasantville officer saw someone, later identified as Philo, attempt to rob someone with a gun. The officer chased Philo as he sped away in a car, and the officer crashed his car into the back of Philo’s vehicle after Philo hit a parked car. He ran away, but another officer and a police dog tracked Philo down in a closet at a nearby home, where he was arrested. Police said they found a loaded .357 Magnum and crack cocaine in his car.

Without knowing what’s been going on with Philo over the last six years, it would be a real stretch to say that the “Crybaby Award” turned him from honor student into alleged criminal. Just like how you can’t say for sure that Michael Costin Jr. grew up to abuse drugs, alcohol, and his 23-years-his-senior girlfriend because his father was killed by another hockey dad in a notorious 2000 case.

However, it’s safe to say that, in each case: it didn’t help.

The words from a family therapist, spoken to USA Today in 2004, about the “Crybaby Award” incident sound haunting now:

“It’s an awful thing to have done to a teenager, just totally uncalled for,” said Michael Popkin, a family therapist and author based in Atlanta. “One of the harshest things you can do to a kid is to publicly humiliate them. It’s bad enough putting him down one on one, away from the team. To set him up like that and then cut his knees out in public is a huge blow.” …

Whether the boy suffers permanent harm from the humiliation depends on how strong he is emotionally and how much his friends, family and teammates support him, Popkin said.

By the way, Guillen is still teaching special education in Pleasantville. The Press did not appear to contact him (and I haven’t either). But one wonders what he thought when he heard of “Terrance” Philo Jr.’s arrest.

Your kid's sports league might be in the crosshairs of the IRS

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If your child’s league disappears next year, or asks for a lot of extra fees, or releases its own version of Willie Nelson’s “The IRS Tapes,” here’s why (from the New York Times):

As many as 400,000 nonprofit organizations are weeks away from a doomsday.

At midnight on May 15, an estimated one-fifth to one-quarter of some 1.6 million charities, trade associations and membership groups will lose their tax exemptions, thanks to a provision buried in a 2006 federal bill aimed at pension reform. …

The federal legislation passed in 2006 required all nonprofits to file tax forms the following year. Previously, only organizations with revenues of $25,000 or more — or the vast majority of nonprofit groups — had to file.

The new law, embedded in the 393 pages of the Pension Protection Act of 2006, also directed the Internal Revenue Service to revoke the tax exemptions of groups that failed to file for three consecutive years. Three years have passed, and thus the deadline looms.

Unless your league president has watched the books closely, it might be time for that person to break out the guitar and start singing, “Who’ll Buy My Memories?”

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Written by rkcookjr

April 23, 2010 at 12:10 am

NFL draft: This one's for all those kids who got picked last

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I don’t want to make a habit out of recycling old pieces I’ve written, but it is Earth Day, and this column I wrote about the NFL draft in 2003 for Flak Magazine is appropriate here as well. Even if you’re not a fan of the NFL, or the draft, or sports in general, at least a pro draft can be good for one thing: letting some athletes know how you felt getting picked last for every team in gym class — or not getting picked at all for schoolyard games. (NOTE: I’ve made a few edits to update the draft format, but otherwise the column is reposted as originally written.)

If you always got picked last for sports on the playground or in gym class, assuming you got picked at all, you can get some psychic revenge by watching the April 22-24 NFL draft.

Ostensibly, the purpose of any professional sports draft is to organize the distribution of the top young players not already signed to pro contracts. Other than a few hotshots whose early selection is preordained, most athletes will have to sweat out how late in the draft they’ll get chosen, if they’re chosen at all. They’ll curse the silence of their phones, which ring only with relatives and friends from back in the day calling to ask the damning question, “Why haven’t they picked you yet?” With each passing pick, the potential embarrassment gets greater, the pressure to smile through the pain grows stronger, the mental voice suggesting maybe they should have spent more time in class gets louder.

Isn’t that great? Who doesn’t love seeing jocks get a taste of their own medicine? At least when you didn’t get picked in the schoolyard, all you lost was your pride. They can lose their careers before they even start! A pro draft is one of the most stirring reality shows on television — you never know who’s going to get voted off, or voted in!

The NBA, anticipating an audience that one day would thirst for Simon Cowell yelling at warbling nobodies, about 25 years ago launched a tradition of public draft-pick humiliation. The league invites the presumably assured top picks to the site of the draft, which is now a very TV-friendly two rounds. The players have a tradition of showing up in pimped-out suits, in which they stroll up to the podium after their name is called by league commissioner David Stern. For their troubles, they get a baseball cap featuring the logo of their new employer. As each player heads for the podium, the dwindling numbers in the green room sit on edge, feeling like fools for still being there and for wearing such lousy suits. The camera inches closer to each remaining player, with announcers saying things like, “Boy, he was expected to go higher, but there he is. I wonder what’s wrong with him?”

The NBA draft’s definitive moment came in 1998, when high-school phenom Rashard Lewis slid all the way out of the first round to the fourth pick of the second round, being bypassed not once, but three times by his hometown Houston Rockets. With each pick, the camera came within fewer atoms of his face, which had teary eyes and the hangdog look of a guy who’d just been stood up by his prom date. Lewis somehow mustered the nerve to walk to the podium like a stud to get his Seattle SuperSonics baseball cap, only to be met by … assistant commissioner Rod Thorn. Stern doesn’t stick around for the second round. That’s gotta hurt.

At the NFL draft, the humiliation comes courtesy of ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr., the TV network’s longtime draft analyst. Kiper is what’s known as a “draftnik,” which means “geek with a satellite dish and way too much free time.” The only helmet Kiper ever wears is his hairstyle, but he gets to pick apart every player even under consideration in the seven-round draft.

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Who the hell is Mel Kiper Jr.? Ask Bill Tobin.

Talk about a sports loser’s revenge — millions of fans will base their opinions of a drafted player — a guy who’s spent his life beating the hell out of other people and getting the hell beaten out of him in hopes of some great financial reward — on the words of a community college grad who says things like, “He demonstrated some foot speed at the college level, but he’s going to struggle because his hands are small and his arms are too short.”

That’s right, you jocks. Mel Kiper Jr. has looked you over and discovered the dirty secret that you have baby-girl hands and tyrannosaur arms! What do you think of that? Maybe you should have chosen the Mel Kiper Jr. types for your elementary school teams instead of picking on them! But it’s too late for that, isn’t it?

Kiper also gives his instant gradings of a team’s draft, which brings us to another way to get psychic revenge. If you got picked last, with captains prefacing their selection by saying, “Do we have to take him?” then surprised everybody by showing a modicum of athletic ability, you can live vicariously through lowly drafted, or undrafted, players who make a team and end up performing far beyond expectations. For example, four years after Lewis’ televised humiliation at the hands of the NBA, he became one of the league’s top young players and a highly desired free-agent acquisition. He stayed with the Sonics, with a guaranteed $70 million on the way. (And Lewis got even bigger money later in Orlando, while the Sonics franchise itself followed by getting bigger money later in Oklahoma City.)

With so many ways to have a catharsis about your own early athletic experiences, there’s no way you should miss watching the NFL draft, or any draft. Not that I have my own issues about getting picked last, or anything.

Written by rkcookjr

April 22, 2010 at 9:57 am

Youth sports hazing: not just for high schoolers, anymore

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If this is any indication of the atmosphere surrounding early-teen school sports, maybe it’s just as well my seventh-grade son got cut.

First, from Indianola, Iowa (as told by the Des Moines Register):

Two members of the Indianola Middle School track team were charged with assault last week in connection with an alleged hazing incident.

Carter Jacobsen, 14, and Trey Kuehl, 15, both of Indianola, were accused of tackling a 14-year-old teammate and holding him down before a track practice. … [EDITOR’S NOTE: Please please please, God, tell me the parents of the latter boy didn’t give him his name as an homage to Green Day drummer Tre Cool.]

Indianola Middle School Principal Mike O’Meara told police that Kuehl and Jacobsen held the victim down and rubbed their testicles on his face.

“There were some sexual connotations in the report but we couldn’t establish that, so we just charged them with simple assault,” Police Chief Steve Bonnett said.

The victim’s mother declined to comment when reached [April 20].

Kuehl and Jacobsen told school authorities that they held the victim down, but denied rubbing their testicles on his face, according to Marsh’s police report.

And from Biscoe, N.C., as told by Fox8 in Greensboro:

At least 10 eighth-graders at East Middle School have been suspended for involvement in alleged sexual bullying and/or hazing over the past week, according to Montgomery County Sheriff Jeff Jordan.

The suspended students are suspected of bullying sixth- and seventh-graders on the soccer and baseball teams, primarily in the boys locker room. A parent told FOX8 News on Tuesday that her son witnessed the eighth-graders pinning younger students against a wall and grinding their groin into the victim’s bottom.

Jordan said the [nine] victims were targeted because they were new to the athletic teams.

Parents and schools needs to teach a simple lesson that would eliminate so many of these incidents. That lesson: keep your hands to yourself.

In Indianola, Jacobsen’s father told the Register his son was just wrestling and horsing around, which a lot of boys were doing. Apparently his son and the other boy didn’t see fit to share that with police, who reported the boys made no statements in meeting attended by their parents. Regardless, if Jacobsen’s father wants to proclaim his son’s innocence, hey, that’s his right. But he should tell his son, when the door is shut, to stop playing grab-ass before track practice. I give the school credit, though: it seemed to deal with this appropriately and swiftly.

I can’t say so much for the schools in Biscoe, N.C., given the Fox8 reports. The school has only made statements that it’s looking into the matter, and it has made clear that the topic of sports bullying and hazing (which the sheriff says also might be happening at the nearby high school) is off-limits at an upcoming Parent-Teachers Organization meeting, April 22. Parents, if they bring up hazing, will be encouraged to speak to the principal privately.

Good luck with that, East Middle School! I understand there are privacy laws, but it might behoove the administrators there to talk about how it was possible for the behavior alleged by police to take place not over a few days — but apparently a few years.

Written by rkcookjr

April 21, 2010 at 6:34 pm