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Identifying and dealing with the asshole parent

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vonnegut2yv1Kurt Vonnegut, “Breakfast of Champions.”

At least in my experience as a youth sports coach, I’ve found that even the worst asshole parents are coming from a good place — trying to do the best for their kids. So I respect that. Not that I don’t think they’re “helping” in the same way my 3-year-old daughter “helps” putting her clothes away. But I break the “assholes” down into these categories:

1. Parents who are new to youth sports. They’ll yell instructions from time to time, but they’re basically harmless. I don’t confront anybody about this kind of stuff, because eventually they’ll back off when their kids get older. Plus, this is usually at an age I’m so busy paying traffic cop that I don’t have time to notice.

2. Parents who have a hard time letting go of controlling their kid. Often this overlaps with No. 1. Again, if they aren’t being disruptive, I’m not going to say anything, even if they talk through the dugout to their kid. Hey, I’m just coaching youth sports here, not running the Lakers. As long as they aren’t yelling at me or other kids, this is an issue I leave to the parents and kids to work out.

3. Parents who really feel like their kid has a chance to be a star. Many times you do find these parents coaching, usually to the detriment of your kid, whom they’re ignoring to promote Freddie Futuremajorleaguer. But if they’re not coaching, they’re paying people plenty of money to do so, and they’re yelling at you for failing their child. I look at this like George being run off the floor by Coach Dale in Hoosiers: “Look, mister, there’s… two kinds of dumb, uh… guy that gets naked and runs out in the snow and barks at the moon, and, uh, guy who does the same thing in my living room. First one don’t matter, the second one you’re kinda forced to deal with.” Except in this case I get to run off the parent. If a parent really thinks I’m a problem and wants to pull their kids off the team, I say, have at it. It’s just better for everyone involved. This is also why (except for rec league basketball) I don’t coach past about age 10. At least in basketball I know a little bit what I’m doing. I just don’t know enough in other sports, and don’t have the time commitment to make, to help anyone, future star or not.

4. Parents who feel like you’re picking on their kid. In the rare times I’ve dealt with this, I’ve felt the looming background of twisted family dynamics that I don’t want to get into. That’s kinda why with the other categories I don’t get any more confrontive than I have to — I don’t know, and I don’t want to know, what’s going on behind closed doors. They can see a therapist to work that out.

5. Parents who gossip about you, or organize against you behind your back. I’m going to guess this happens more with travel teams. Anyway, whatever the reason, if this has happened to me (and I’ve tried to remain as blissfully unaware as possible), I’ve just stayed out of it. I’m done at season’s end, and we’ll all go our separate ways. Life’s too short. Unless the someone it gets taken out on my kid. But I’ve never seen anything like that.

6. Finally, parents who are just plain assholes. They’re loud, they’re drunk, they’re stupid. Fortunately, the other parents help you with these folks, because they’re just as sick of them as you are.

As the Stinson turns (big break for the defense edition)

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player-thumbIt’s a shame that Max Gilpin, the 15-year-old who died after a football practice last August in Louisville, Ky., is growing more and more of a footnote in the aftermath of his demise. But that’s how it goes when stuff like this happens.

From the Louisville Courier-Journal:

A Bullitt County circuit judge this morning [Tuesday] issued a domestic violence order against Jeffery Dean Gilpin, the father of the Pleasure Ridge Park football player who died after he collapsed at a practice.

During a court hearing, Gilpin’s wife, Lois Louise Gilpin, alleged that her husband had been abusive in the past and had recently threatened harm if she did anything to “dishonor” her stepson, Max Gilpin, who died at a practice on Aug. 23.

Jeff Gilpin, represented by attorneys, denied the allegations.

Nevertheless, Judge Elise Spainhour told Jeff Gilpin to avoid all contact with his wife and to enter anger counseling, along with grief counseling. The pair plan to divorce, they said.

“I’m very sorry you lost your child,” Spainhour told Jeff Gilpin. “You need to try to salvage your life. You don’t want to live in a sea of anger.”

Gilpin already has one ex-wife: Max’s mother, who is joining him in filing a civil lawsuit against former coach David Jason Stinson, as well as other coaches and the Louisville school district. They filed on the basis of wrongful death, saying Stinson denied water to players and pushed them too hard on a day when the heat index reached 94 degrees.

But what really made Max Gilpin’s case stand out is that Stinson is facing an August court date after a grand jury indicted him on reckless homicide charges as a result of the player’s death.

Presumably, Jeff Gilpin’s home life shouldn’ t have anything to do with Stinson’s guilt or innocence. But for sure Stinson’s lawyers will be poring through his divorce filings (if they haven’t already) looking for anything they can use. Already, Jeff Gilpin did them a favor during his civil trial deposition by saying he wasn’t sure that Stinson denied anyone water — a key fact on which the civil and criminal cases turn.

Stinson’s attorneys are going to be especially aggressive not only because they have a client to defend, but also because they know (thanks to the contributions they’re receiving from coaches nationwide) that Stinson’s guilt or innocence is going to have a profound effect on coaches’ authority. Especially their authority to inflict physical punishment like “gassers,” the sprint drills Stinson was alleged to have his players run because of a perceived lack of hustle, a coaching technique as old as coaching itself. With that at stake, and with his father’s personal foibles coming into the spotlight, it’s unfortunate Max Gilpin himself is more and more of an afterthought and symbol than a boy who died tragically.

Dad Jekyll, Coach Hyde

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2808104358_4b5844e409_m

The latest question posed to the Positive Coaching Alliance: “Why is my husband such an asshole when he coaches?”

My husband is coaching our son’s 9 year old Little League Team. There are 2 other assistant coaches, each with a child (1 boy, 1 girl) on the team. The coaches are trying to teach sound fundamentals to all the kids, and, as is often the case they are all type-A sports-loving men.

All 3 coach’s [sic] kids have a lot of talent. All 3 are struggling with performance anxiety, especially in a game situation. All 3 are practically paralyzed each time they are up to bat. All 3 can hit at practice, but not in the game. All 3 want desperately to do well for their team and for their Dad. All 3 are scrutinized by their Dads when they bat because Dad wants desperately for them to overcome their anxiety and perform.

Only 1 child on the team (not one of the coaches’ children) consistently hits the ball. I hear some encouragement from the coaches but they are frustrated and I’m hearing a lot of comments from the coaches like: come on be a hitter, you’ve got to swing at that, swing the bat, be aggressive, etc.

I have tried talking to my husband, the head coach. He doesn’t seem to be able to change his approach.

Do you have any suggestions? These kids aren’t having fun and I fear they will lose their love for the game. Help!!
– Janet

Janet, dammit, I suggest you read an excellent, well-informed post from this here blog about coaching your own child. It tells you how your husband (and the assistants) should interact with his child (and their children) as a coach (coaches). It also tells you how easy it is to fuck that up. Save up for some therapy bills, Janet.

Specifically for coaching your kid in baseball, I would recommend this:

– Your husband, and your child, should realize that baseball is a game of failure. As the old saying goes, you’re considered a star if you get a hit 30 percent of the time (except by sabermetricians who criticize you for not walking enough). So he, and your child, should relax and not worry about failure because of the nature of the game. If that doesn’t work, there’s always Inderal.

– When you go to games (and Janet, I know you do), you should get all sarcastic when the coaches say stupid shit like “come on be a hitter,” especially if they’re saying it in the form of a run-on sentence. When they say, “come on be a hitter,” you say, “That’s right son! Bash that ball like a baby seal!” Or “So NOW you get around to telling him what that aluminum stick is for?” Or “Brilliant fuckin’ advice, Lasorda.”

– Because talking reasonably to your husband failed, withhold sex and block his online porn until he gets the message.

You’re welcome.

As the Stinson turns (barely)

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David Jason Stinson, he of the reckless-homicide-charged-and-being-sued-former-football-coach-whose-player-died-of-dehydration-days-after-running-gassers-at-a-hot-preseason-practice David Jason Stinsons, appeared in court in Louisville, Ky., today for a pretrial conference in his criminal case.

Nothing happened.

How can parents hold coaches accountable…

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…without being an asshole about it?

I wrote the last portion of that question, but that’s a statement often implied when someone is, say, turning to the Positive Coaching Alliance to get an answer to the thorny questions of youth sports. In this case, an anonymous parent wondering, basically, why everyone else has to sign a code of conduct promising to be a goody-goody while the coaches get to carry on like Bob Knight with a case of flaming hemorrhoids.

3125518865_b1e16afd10_mPossible case of ‘roid rage.

The exact question posed to the readers of the blog of the Positive Coaching Alliance:

My daughter goes to a very competitive public high school with a winning tradition. However, some of the coaches with the best winning traditions are also some of the worst coaches when it comes to how they treat the kids. These coaches are allowed to scream and yell at our children with no consequences.

Our kids are put down amongst their peers and even cursed at in public. Yet the teams win and nothing is done. A few years ago our school implemented a Code of Conduct for all athletes and parents to sign. The Code is not strictly enforced, even though athletes and parents must sign a new one for each new season or sport.

What kind of Code of Conduct should the coaches be held accountable to? When the Code is broken by a coach, how should it be dealt with? Our coaches are also teachers in the school and they are part of the union, which makes it difficult for parents to question a coach’s tactics and behavior because of the fear of retribution not only to the athlete (playing time, etc.) but also to the student and their grades. I cannot sit on the sidelines any more and something must be done. I need your help!

Here is my answer, which I have submitted to the PCA blog:

You know what you can do about this? Most likely, shut up and take it.

That’s not the answer you wanted, and that’s not the answer I want to give. But if you’re at a competitively public high school with a winning tradition (like my old high school, where I for a while ran track and cross country for a coach with multiple state championships), these coaches are beloved by many for their results, and that support includes many alumni and fellow parents, as well as the current school administration. If you want an indication of the loyalty a seemingly over-the-top coach can engender, go to Support Our Stinson to see the massive amount of love pouring out for a coach facing a reckless homicide charge after one his players died as a result of one of his practices. The teachers’ union is the least of your problems.

If you (and your child) find the coaches too much, you have one relatively easy option — taking your child off the team. I say “relatively” because I presume you fear some sort of backlash from coaches, or some negative change in your child’s social circle. At the least, your child can finish the season, then quit the sport and concentrate on intramural, rec league or club-level competition.

Otherwise, if you are planning to fight what is going on with the coach, the first thing I would recommend is taking your emotions out of this. Yes, it’s your child, your baby. But you have to ask yourself — is there a reason the coach is acting the way he or she acts? Talk to other parents whose child has played for that coach, for example. Don’t ask, “How could your child stand such a tyrant?” Ask, “What did you think of that coach? What did you think of the way that coach handled players?” If you don’t want to be seen as the crazy, overprotective parent, don’t act like one. If you sense a lot of anger and upset among the parents, then you can come to the administration as a group. The administration might not do anything, but it can’t ignore a large group of parents making the same complaint.

Also, there’s nothing wrong with asking to talk to the coach. Again, it’s about approach. If you introduce the conversation as one where you want to ask the coach why he’s such a jerk, prepare to be brushed off or patronized. Instead, introduce yourself and ask if there would be an opportunity to chat one-on-one as a new parent wishing to get to know him (or her) or the program better. The coach is probably still going to be nervous that you’re some crazy, overprotective parent. But a good coach will make a little time and explain why he or she does what he does. You might not agree with it, but at least you might understand it better.

One other thing you can do: talk to your child. Does the coach’s conduct bother your child? How do teammates respond to it? What is the team morale? If your child feels like the coach is coming from a positive place, then maybe the best thing for you to do is back off.

I think the Scots are laughing at us

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From the Herald, a Scottish newspaper:

In America, a soccer coach has been misbehaving. Mike Kinahan told parents of the six-year-old girls in his team that he expected the kids to “kick ass” and to “bleed” for the cause.

In an e-mail to parents last week, Kinahan declared his team would be known as “the Green Death”, the girls should be fed red meat and that “while blood doping and HGH use is frowned upon, there is no testing policy.”

Kinahan had to resign.

He argued his e-mail was “meant as a satire of those who take youth sports too seriously for the wrong reasons” but, frankly, the notion that Americans would not understand irony is far too implausible for us.

I understand irony! It’s 10,000 spoons when all you need is a knife!

1420683079_9291f872dbA little too ironic?

As the Stinson turns (civil edition)

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I’m certainly no lawyer, and most of the access I have to issues involved in the David Jason Stinson case comes from articles in the Louisville Courier-Journal. But the more I study the case, the more I think Stinson isn’t going to jail, and the more I think Max Gilpin’s parents won’t collect a dime in their lawsuit against their late son’s high school football coach.

Quick review: Stinson was the football coach at Pleasure Ridge Park High School in Louisville, Ky., when one of his players, the 15-year-old Gilpin, collapsed during practice during a hot day in late August 2008. A few days later, Gilpin died of septic shock, a result of a body temperature that reached 107 degrees. Based on testimony that said Stinson denied water to players and was verbally abusive (saying he would run players until they quit), the Jefferson County prosecutor charged Stinson with reckless homicide, a Class D felony that carries up to a five-year prison sentence, while Gilpin’s divorced parents united to file a wrongful death lawsuit against Stinson (no longer PRP’s coach), as well as assistant coaches, the Louisville school district and other school personnel.

Stinson’s case has become a flashpoint among youth sports parents and coaches because he is either an example to be made of for coaches going too far, or his prosecution is an example of extreme overreaching and threatens to make every coaching decision an actionable offense. (Perhaps why coaching associations are contributors to a legal fund established for Stinson.)

Back to the latest update in the case.

The Courier-Journal today has a story discussing the deposition of Max’s father, Jeff Gilpin, who was at the last practice. Key to both the criminal and civil cases was that Stinson denied players water — which makes the senior Gilpin’s own statement questionable of help to his own case. From the C-J (the bolding for emphasis is mine):

Gilpin noted that when he arrived at the practice, the running drills had begun and another player was already sitting on the ground with a bag of ice on his neck.

But Gilpin acknowledged that he did not hear Max or any other PRP football player complain that they were being denied water during the practice, where the heat index reached 94. And he said the players were allowed to remove their helmets and shoulder pads as they continued running.

Some players were told to sit down, while the rest of the team continued to run, though Gilpin said he was not sure who instructed them to do so.

There were pieces of Gilpin’s deposition that portray Stinson and the coaches as, at best, unaware of the severity of the situation and ill-equipped to deal with what was going on. Again, from the C-J:

Gilpin said PRP athletic director Craig Webb drove up in a cart, and they loaded Max onto it, taking him to a sideline water station. They disconnected the water hose and ran water on Max, putting ice on his neck.

Gilpin said it was several minutes after Max collapsed when assistant coach Steve Deacon asked him if he wanted him to call 911.

“I replied ‘Well, hell yes!’ ” Gilpin said, according to a transcript of his answers.

At that time, Gilpin said he noticed Stinson standing about 10 yards away with the team. Gilpin said Stinson did not talk to him or offer any assistance.

Bill Hoback, an attorney for Stinson, said the coach had gathered with other players at a team meeting and didn’t know Max had gone down until several minutes after he was removed from the field.

By that point, several people were working on Max, and Stinson observed what was happening, Hoback said.

“You can’t read that as him not trying to help,” he said.

Gilpin acknowledged in court records that Stinson did not notice Max fall down.

By all accounts, Stinson and the other coaches did not distinguish themselves with their understanding of what do once Max Gilpin collapsed. (Hence, why Kentucky passed a law requiring high school coaches to get training for sports-related injuries and illnesses, including what to do in case of overheating. The state’s high school athletic association and medical association are quickly putting together an online course so the 12,000 affected coaches can get trained by August.)

But is it reckless homicide?

The problem, for both the state and defense, is how you make airtight that someone did or didn’t do something beyond on a reasonable doubt for a law that defines reckless homicide as “recklessness when [a person] causes the death of another person.” Stinson ordered running drills, Gilpin collapsed, and he died. That much we know. But if there’s evidence Stinson didn’t deny water, or that Gilpin’s Adderall prescription contributed to his overheating, is Stinson off the hook? Would a jury find the mere act of running sprints on a 94-degree-heat-index day a reckless act. Apparently the Jefferson County prosecutor (and a grand jury) think so, and prosecutors by reputation only try cases they think they can win. But there are truck-sized holes both sides can drive evidence through to sway a jury.

Meanwhile, in the civil case, which has a lesser standard of guilt (as we all know thanks to O.J. Simpson being innocent of criminal charges of murder yet being held civilly responsible for those deaths), still is no easy road for Gilpin’s parents. Presumably, if the Louisville schools thought the odds were against it and Stinson, it would be moving to settle the case. (It’s possible that’s happening and we don’t know it, yet, but the school publicly has not signaled any intention to back down.) Of course, the district could be fighting the case so a precedent isn’t set, and its coaches can run gassers at will.

And like the criminal case, defining “reckless” is going to be difficult for the plaintiffs. Yeah, Stinson might have been a jerk. But is it reckless to do what he did when thousands of coaches have done the same without incident? (Of course, that’s a possible repercussion of the lawsuit and criminal case — to stop coaches from pulling crap so there are no more Gilpin-like incidents.)

I’m going to guess that for both the criminal and civil cases, any jury selection is going to be knock-down, drag-out because the definition of “reckless” can be as wide or narrow as anyone wants it to be. Surely every juror is going to be asked about his or her youth sports experience, whether as a player, a parents, a relative or the guy who parks the ice cream truck by the field and blares the stupid music-box incessantly until the parents submit to the begging of their children just to make it all go away. Presumably anyone with any intensity of feelings about their experiences is off the jury, but you never know.

The vagueness inherent in the definition of “reckless” is going to make the jury pool selection key to winning for either side. Trial lawyer Steve Frederick’s Kentucky Injury Law Blog has a list of a trial consultant’s top five truths about jurors that, to me, seems especially applicable in Stinson’s cases, even though technically these truths are about civil cases:

1. Don’t ask jurors to give your client the “benefit of the doubt” unless you want them to doubt your client.

2. Arguing that the law “only” requires proof “by a preponderance of the evidence” is like telling the jury that the plaintiff doesn’t have a lot of solid evidence.

3. People use their life experiences to fill-in-the-blanks in your case.

4. People don’t enter the courtroom looking for an opportunity to give away money.

5. It’s not what the law allows BUT WHAT JUSTICE REQUIRES that compels jurors to act on behalf of the plaintiff.

Green Death soccer coach — not an asshole

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So say parents ticked that one Massachusetts soccer coach’s attempt at satire has made him a national laughingstock, and not because his email portraying himself as Sgt. Hartman for 6- and 7-year-old girls (“Some say soccer at this age is about fun and I completely agree. However, I believe winning is fun and losing is for losers.”) was up there with the collected works of Oscar Wilde.

From Wicked Local — Wicked Local? Who named this, Jimmy Fallon? –  the site of the Quincy Patriot-Ledger and Scituate Mariner:

Mike Kinahan, the Scituate Youth Soccer coach who resigned after writing a controversial “Green Death” e-mail, is nothing like the over-competitive person depicted in news, radio and television stories, according to people who know him.

Terry Murphy, who has been Kinahan’s co-coach for the past few years, said the issue has become “completely overblown.” Shannon Tobin, whose daughter played on Kinahan’s team in the past, compared the controversy to “a witch hunt.”

I bet you think this song is about you, don’t you, don’t you, don’t youuuuuuuuu…

Apparently the “sweat-xedo-wearing yuppies who sit on the sidelines in their LL Bean chairs sipping mocha-latte-half-calf-chinos while discussing reality TV and home decorating with other feeble-minded folks” in the past were quite the fans of Kinahan’s work. Here, Edward Delano, who has had three kids play for Kinahan, gives his own thumbs-up. It’s funnier if you read his comments, and the comments of other parents, in a Boston accent. (Easy for me, because my dad is from Concord, Mass. Wicked Cahn-cud.)
“He does them periodically,” Delano said. “It’s just in jest, in fun. They’re usually very comical.”

When Delano first saw the now-controversial e-mail, he said he thought, “It’s the same old shtick. It’s the same Mike.”

Jennifer Masuret’s daughter and son both played for Kinahan’s teams. She said the goal of his e-mails has always been “to help parents laugh during the hectic grind of spring soccer.”

Masuret said that as a coach, Kinahan succeeded in getting his players excited to play.

“He’s just enthusiastic,” she said. “He’s not yelling, ‘Losing is for losers’ out on the field. My daughter’s never been so enthusiastic. My daughter came off the field fired up for next week’s game.”

If it’s any consolation to Kinahan, he’s not the first master of satire to have an unfamiliar audience react violently to his work. There are probably still people who believe Jonathan Swift wanted to eat Irish children, that Randy Newman don’t want no short people round here, or that people bow down in worship to a Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Also, losing a volunteer gig coaching in the Scituate Soccer Club is a very small price to pay for a budding satirist. Lenny Bruce was jailed and succumbed to heroin addiction. Waleed Hassan was killed on the streets of Baghdad, and Jaime Garzon was gunned down on the streets of Bogota. Wilde died penniless and broken after the Marquis of Queensberry orchestrated criminal charges against him, following an unsuccessful attempt to toss turnips (huh?) at Wilde during the premiere of  “The Importance of Beign Ernest,” because Wilde had taken up with son.

Then again, none of them had something snarky written about them on Deadspin. So maybe Kinahan has earned his satirist hairshirt after all.

Satire — what closes on Saturday night, and what is not recommended in a youth soccer coach

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Like a lot of coaches, I send a hello email to all my players’ parents as a way to introduce myself, talk a little about my background, give a few thoughts on how I approach coaching, and try to be light-hearted and even a little humorous, all to send the signal that I’m a nice, approachable guy who will not drive their kid straight out of the sport and onto a therapist’s couch.

I would recommend all coaches do the same. However, I would recommend none have an email that reads like this (hat tip, On the Pitch, which got it from Barstool Sports, a Boston-based site that has a reader with a girl on the team in question):

Congratulations on being selected for Team 7 (forest green shirts) of the Scituate Soccer Club! My name is Michael and I have been fortunate enough to be selected to coach what I know will be a wonderful group of young ladies. Chris Mac will also be coaching and I expect the ever popular Terry to return to the sidelines. Our first game will be Saturday April 4 at 10:00AM. There will be a half hour of skills followed by a 1 hour game, so total time will be 1.5 hours. All games will be played on the fields in the front of the High School. Each player will be required to wear shin guards and cleats are recommended but not required. A ball will be provided to each player at the first meeting, and each player should bring the ball to games and practices. There is no set practice time allotted for the U8 teams, but I will convene with the coaches to determine the best time and place. If there are cancellations due to rain, all notices will be posted via the Scituate Soccer Club website, no calls will be made (though I will try to send an email). Attached is the Schedule and Code of Conduct. After listening to the head of the referees drone on for about 30 minutes on the dangers of jewelry (time which I will never get back), no player will be allowed to play with pierced ears, hairclips, etc. We used to tape the earings, but that practice is no longer acceptable. Please let me know if your child has any health issues that I need to be aware of. My home phone is XXX XXX XXXX, my cell number is XXX XXX XXXX, and I check my email frequently. According to my wife, my emails get too wordy, so for those of you read too slowly, are easily offended, or are too busy, you can stop here. For the others……

OK, here’s the real deal: Team 7 will be called Green Death. We will only acknowledge “Team 7″ for scheduling and disciplinary purposes. Green Death has had a long and colorful history, and I fully expect every player and parent to be on board with the team. This is not a team, but a family (some say cult), that you belong to forever. We play fair at all times, but we play tough and physical soccer. We have some returning players who know the deal; for the others, I only expect 110% at every game and practice. We do not cater to superstars, but prefer the gritty determination of journeymen who bring their lunch pail to work every week, chase every ball and dig in corners like a Michael Vick pit bull. Unless there is an issue concerning the health of my players or inside info on the opposition, you probably don’t need to talk to me. Coach MacDonald has been designated “good guy” this year.

Some say soccer at this age is about fun and I completely agree. However, I believe winning is fun and losing is for losers. Ergo, we will strive for the “W” in each game. While we may not win every game (excuse me, I just got a little nauseated) I expect us to fight for every loose ball and play every shift as if it were the finals of the World Cup. While I spent a good Saturday morning listening to the legal liability BS, which included a 30 minute dissertation on how we need to baby the kids and especially the refs, I was disgusted. The kids will run, they will fall, get bumps, bruises and even bleed a little. Big deal, it’s good for them (but I do hope the other team is the one bleeding). If the refs can’t handle a little criticism, then they should turn in their whistle. The sooner they figure out how to make a decision and live with the consequences the better. My heckling of the refs is actually helping them develop as people. The political correctness police are not welcome on my sidelines. America’s youth is becoming fat, lazy and non-competitive because competition is viewed as “bad”. I argue that competition is good and is important to the evolution of our species and our survival in what has become an increasingly competitive global economy and dangerous world. Second place trophies are nothing to be proud of as they serve only as a reminder that you missed your goal; their only useful purpose is as an inspiration to do that next set of reps. Do you go to a job interview and not care about winning? Don’t animals eat what they kill (and yes, someone actually kills the meat we eat too – it isn’t grown in plastic wrap)? And speaking of meat, I expect that the ladies be put on a diet of fish, undercooked red meat and lots of veggies. No junk food. Protein shakes are encouraged, and while blood doping and HGH use is frowned upon, there is no testing policy. And at the risk of stating the obvious, blue slushies are for winners.

These are my views and not necessarily the views of the league (but they should be). I recognize that my school of thought may be an ideological shift from conventional norms. But it is imperative that we all fight the good fight, get involved now and resist the urge to become sweat-xedo-wearing yuppies who sit on the sidelines in their LL Bean chairs sipping mocha-latte-half-caf-chinos while discussing reality TV and home decorating with other feeble-minded folks. I want to hear cheering, I want to hear encouragement, I want to get the team pumped up at each and every game and know they are playing for something.

Lastly, we are all cognizant of the soft bigotry that expects women and especially little girls, to be dainty and submissive; I wholeheartedly reject such drivel. My overarching goal is develop ladies who are confident and fearless, who will stand up for their beliefs and challenge the status quo. Girls who will kick ass and take names on the field, off the field and throughout their lives. I want these girls to be winners in the game of life. Who’s with me?

Go Green Death!

Who’s with him? Not the Scituate Soccer Club in Massachusetts, which was unhappy enough with the coach who wrote this note, one Michael Kinahan, that he quit. Did I mention Kinahan’s team was to consist of 6- and 7-year-old girls?

Kinahan told the Boston Herald his letter was supposed to be a “mix of ‘suburban satire’ and a challenge to compete. ‘I stand by my comments. This isn’t two hours of free babysitting,’ Kinahan said.”

1145190861_7f321fb9dcNot a gift from Michael Kinahan.

Apparently Kinahan was not familiar with the words of George S. Kaufman. Or perhaps nobody got as a satire because, according to a league official quoted by the Herald, Kinahan in the past really has heckled the refs. Did I mention they are 12 years old, and that a league official said Kinahan heckled one right out of the league?

In a way, I feel bad for Kinahan. I believe he was trying to be funny, though I also believe that if this letter is any example, he sucks at it. Anyway, it isn’t a good idea to alienate your team and its parents before any of them have met you. There’s plenty of time in the season for that! Unfortunately, thanks to this magic thing called the Internet, a stupid letter goes from being just a stupid letter into the latest cause celebre over whether we take youth sports too seriously.

However, I feel much better for the girls and parents who don’t have to deal with this hopeless douchebag. Apparently not realizing the dad who reads Barstool Sports is the one who shined a light on his sub-Wildean satiric skills, Kinahan included him a copy of his resignation letter, which the site dutifully reproduced. You could say Kinahan hasn’t learned anything, or you could say Kinahan is going to be the subject of a fawning interview on Fox News very, very soon.

Team, After careful consideration, I have decided to resign from all coaching responsibilities related to Team 7 this season.  Unfortunately, it has come to my attention that some parents and the Board of Scituate Soccer failed to see the humor in my pre-season email.  For the avoidance of doubt, the email was largely (albeit not completely) meant in jest and with the goal of giving the parents a chuckle while enduring yet another round of organized youth sports.  It was also meant as a satire of those who take youth sports too seriously for the wrong reasons.  My overarching goal is the well-being of my players, and I do not want any player to feel uncomfortable, nor do I want to see the team disbanded because of a lack of active players.  Therefore, while I’d prefer to go down swinging, it’s really about the kids and it just makes more sense for me to take the year off.

While I respectfully disagree with the Board’s interpretation of my comments, I believe that they should be commended for their immediate actions to address the concerns of the offended parties.  The Board’s action proves that the chain of command is functioning as designed.  Board members volunteer their valuable time and I do not plan to add to their already significant workload.  I also respect those parents who were offended as I am sure they acted in the best interest of their children.  While I may question their sense of humor, I have no right to question their judgment regarding their children.  Perhaps we may even have beer (I’ll buy) and a couple of laughs at the end of all of this.

And while I am sorry some people failed to see the humor, I do not apologize for my actions; I wrote it, I think it’s funny and I do have a distaste for the tediousness of overbearing political correctness.  Furthermore, I was serious about parental involvement as I do believe parents should cheer and encourage players (in a positive fashion obviously) so that the kids feel the excitement that comes from team competition.  And most importantly, I was completely serious that I want to see each young girl develop a positive self image, self-confidence and the will to succeed in any endeavor that she desires.  Lastly, I have added some comments to my initial email (in capitals) to clarify several points that may have been viewed as offensive.

Sincerely,

Michael K.

Go Green Death!

greendeathfrontgreendeathbackHow long before Kinahan sues Barstool Sports for trying to make a buck off of his idiocy?

2, 4, 6, 8, what we gonna legislate?

with one comment

In Missouri, it’s carving out as its own special assault the crime of beating the shit out of referees or coaches, something heartily supported by this columnist at the Blue Springs Examiner. The proposed state legislation, not beating the shit out of referees or coaches:

Usually I’m not a fan of the state legislature sticking its nose into the sports world.

The state representatives and senators have considered trying to take over the Missouri State High School Activities Association in the past, and that was a very bad idea.

But the Missouri House is currently considering legislation that would make penalties stiffer for attacking a sports official in the state.

And that is a very good idea.

It’s OK to disagree with a call now and then. I have to say I even have from time to time when watching my daughter’s games.

But officials in any sport have a tough enough time without having to worry about someone attacking them after – or during – the event.

And this proposed legislation would make people who have an inclination to do such things think twice before they act. Such attacks, under this bill, would mean the person instigating it would face up to a year in jail or a $1,000 fine. As of now, most of these attacks would fall under third-degree assault, which is punishable by only a $300 fine.

I would definitely brain a referee for $300. But for $1,000? Whoo, I’m sitting right back down. Just be glad, Missouri people, they haven’t yet taken away your right to even disagree with the ref.

Seriously, about 20 states have passed similar laws, though no one can track how many ref and coach assaults happened before the bills passed, and how many happened afterward. But even with no empirical evidence, we all feel better when these laws go on the books, right? (The sponsor of the law that passed in my home state of Illinois was my own state Senator, Ed Maloney.) And then we can mock states like Connecticut, where such a bill has failed multiple times, and call them referee-and-coach shit-beater-outer lovers.

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In the posher realms of Connecticut, these shirts are called “ref beaters.”

In Rhode Island, it’s forming a state committee to hash out youth sports disputes — including fines for parties deemed to be the evil side. From The Associated Press:

Soccer dads and hockey moms beware: Lose your cool at your kids’ games and you might have to pay.

A bill pending in Rhode Island would create a seven-member council to settle disputes in youth recreational leagues, with the power to fine parents or others it thinks are in the wrong. Backers say it would create a more systematic way for resolving sports fights that sometime result in children or parents arbitrarily being removed from organized leagues.

While some other state and town governments have tried to enforce good sportsmanship, national experts say no state has ever considered intervening so deeply in sideline squabbles. …

Jeff Southworth, 48, said more regulation is needed to hold league officials accountable. He called Pawtucket police more than three years ago after he said his daughter’s soccer coach showed up angry and unwelcome at his family’s home. The two clashed over league matters, he said, including whether Southworth could videotape soccer games.

Southworth’s daughter quit the team and needed counseling, he said. The family tried, but was unable to get, local or state soccer officials or the city government to intervene. …

Sen. John Tassoni Jr., a Democrat who works for a politically influential labor union and the bill’s sponsor, said he may still revise the bill to give the council the power to compel witnesses to testify. Identical legislation has been filed by Democratic Rep. Timothy Williamson, the senior deputy majority leader in the House.

Tassoni wrote the legislation after hearing from parents, including the mother of a young girl cut from a football cheerleading squad because her mother argued with a coach.

“The board of directors said, ‘You’re out. Take your kid and leave,’” Tassoni said. “Who loses? The child loses because they can’t play sports with their friends.” …

No surprise, league officials hate this bill. Perhaps because it’s being pushed by the same asshole parents that make their lives hell to begin with. This bill, by the way, establishes no parameters for the threshhold for complaints to be heard. Whether they’re right or wrong, there’s nothing youth sports volunteers will like more than being dragged before a state committee to explain why Timmy isn’t getting enough playing time.

Finally, in Maryland, it’s making sure youth (and adult) sports officials aren’t covered by the state’s unemployment insurance law. The impetus was when a recently laid-off worker/active umpire listed Howard County Officials Inc. on his unemployment form, which led the state’s department of labor to demand $15,700 in payment from the group for past unpaid unemployment insurance. From The View Newspapers:

[Bill sponsor Allan] Kittleman [a Republican from West Friendship] said the state’s new interpretation of referees could have far-reaching implications, forcing officiating organizations across Maryland to pay thousands of dollars in taxes previously not required or risk closing.

The state’s Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation opposes Kittleman’s bill, saying his legislation would create a “loophole” that could have unintended consequences. “… Such carve-outs can unintentionally leave categories or workers without the ability to collect unemployment benefits, a critical social safety net,” the agency argued in testimony submitted to the Finance Committee.

Agency spokeswoman Dori Berman said the state routinely opposes exemptions to the unemployment insurance law, though committee members said “paperboys” have already been exempted.

Even if Kittleman’s bill were to pass, it would likely not save the group, which has about 40 umpires working more than 3,000 games a year, because of the $15,700 bill it’s facing, the umpires said.

At [a] hearing, Thomas Perez, secretary of the state Labor Department, said he hoped to meet with Kittleman and find a “common-sense” solution to the officials’ troubles, although he would have to study it more before saying what that solution might be.

“If we had some time to craft something that made legal sense and common sense, we’re more than willing to do that,” Perez said, adding that he once spent summers umpiring baseball games. “There are a number of layers of review that could very well result in a different determination.”

So far, there are no reports of any meeting between Howard County Officials and the labor department. And the bill hasn’t moved anywhere since the Feb. 17 hearing. That means there’s only one thing the aggrieved organization and its officials can do — complain about the jagoff who blew their cover.

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