Your Kid’s Not Going Pro

A Youth Sports Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Alabama

Football fan hits ref with chair, pro-wrestling style (updated with arrest info)

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Vince McMahon might weep with joy at the above Alabama high school football fan’s ability to run and swing a chair with pinpoint accuracy. Then again, McMahon might also weep with disbelief at how three older, out-of-shape-looking referees turned around and whomped the guy, unscripted, after he hit one of their own across the back with said chair.

You might have seen this video elsewhere in the last few days — I caught it on Total Pro Sports. The incident happened after the final gun in a high school football game featuring two Alabama small-school powers, undefeated host Hackleburg and Lynn, which suffered its first loss when it fell to Hackleburg 20-14 in its homecoming game.

Hackleburg, located about two hours northwest of Birmingham, near the Mississippi border, is most famous as the hometown of country singer Sonny James, the Southern Gentleman. But it’s going to get a lot more famous for what that Southern Anti-Gentleman did with the chair. You can see at about 1:15 into the video (the action is paused so you can get a good look at the alleged assailant) that a fan tosses a folding chair over the fence surrounding the field. Once the game ends, he sprints through the crowd on the field and whaps a ref, before he gets set upon by the zebras and various fans.

I presume this would have to be a Lynn fan who was upset. But details about who this guy is, and what happened in the aftermath, are sorely lacking. I checked three different writeups of the game, and none mention the chair incident. I haven’t found any follow-up on the story, either, beyond snarky blog posts.

I called the Marion County (Ala.) Sheriff’s Department to see if this person was arrested. The very nice lady who answered the phone said any trouble would have been handled by Hackleburg police, so I would need to call police chief Kenny Hallmark when he’s back in the morning. So that’s what I’ll do. For what it’s worth, the current jail roster in Marion County doesn’t mention anyone brought in from Hackleburg. Given I’m writing this four days after the Oct. 2 incident, I presume someone would have come up with the guy’s bail money by now if he booked a suite in the ol’ Graybar Hotel.

I talked with Hackleburg police chief Kenny Hallmark, who identified the fan in the video as Don Cagle, 22, of Jasper, Ala. He was arrested on charges of disorderly conduct and two Class C felonies: assault on a sports official and assault on a police officer. Class C is the least severe felony charge — assault in the third degree. Hallmark said that after the video ended, Cagle kicked an officer and spit in his face three times. Cagle bonded out of Marion County Jail, though no court date has yet been set. Hallmark said Cagle has no criminal record that he knows of. Hallmark said he couldn’t speak to a motive, though he noted Cagle was on the Lynn side of the field and was wearing Lynn colors.

By the way, Alabama is one of the many states that have strengthened their assault penalties when it comes to attacking a sports official, which gives you an idea how often this stuff happens, or at least happened before the laws were place. It’s telling that you can get the same penalty for assaulting a referee as you can a police officer. In Cagle’s case, he could face one to 10 years in jail and a $15,000 fine if gets convicted on one of the felony charges, double if he gets convicted on both. The guy who attacked the referee could face felony assault charges that would put him in prison for up to 20 years. We know who’ll be weeping if that happens, and it won’t be Vince McMahon.

Written by rkcookjr

October 6, 2009 at 9:38 pm

And this little piggie stayed home

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The Your Kid’s Not Going Pro emergency alert center reports the following athletic cancellations as a result of H1N1 — oh, forget it, you’re all gonna call it swine flu no matter what authorities say. (NOTE: I am adding to this list and alphabetizing by state rather than creating new posts every team a school or organization cancels sports.)

EDIT: On the Pitch has some great practical resources for handling the swine flu scare. Its advice is targeted toward soccer leagues. But the lessons — including handling communication with parents — are valuable for any kind of league and coach.

ALABAMA HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION All events postponed until further notice. Events postponed until May 5.

MADISON COUNTY, ALABAMA — All children’s activities, including T-ball practices and games, in county parks canceled until May 4.

BRANHAM HIGH SCHOOL, CALIFORNIAAll events canceled through May 6.

INDIO HIGH SCHOOL, CALIFORNIAAll events canceled through May 7.

All games and practices canceled through May 4, as well as a ban on outside groups using school facilities.

HOMER COMMUNITY CONSOLIDATED DISTRICT 33, ILLINOISAll afterschool activities in middle and elementary schools, including sports, canceled for May 1.

WABASH SCHOOL DISTRICT, INDIANAAll practices for Thurs., April 30, called off. Games still scheduled, unless rained out.

WOODHAVEN-BROWNSTOWN SCHOOLS, MICHIGAN — All after-school activites, including sports, canceled for Thurs., April 30, and possibly through the weekend.

BEMUS POINT SCHOOL DISTRICT, NEW YORKAll sports canceled through May 3.

All events canceled through May 1.

Schools and all sports activities canceled through May 4.

ST. FRANCIS PREP SCHOOL, NEW YORK — All events will go forward as scheduled, unless opponents are too scared of contracting swine flu to show up.

All events canceled through Friday.

MAULDIN HIGH SCHOOL, SOUTH CAROLINAAll activities, including games and practices, canceled on April 30 and May 1.

NEWBERRY COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT, SOUTH CAROLINAMost after-school activities, including sports, canceled through May 4.

MONTGOMERY BELL ACADEMY, TENNESSEEAll after-school activities, including sports, canceled through May 8.

THE CITY OF THE COLONY’S PARK AND RECREATIONS DEPARTMENT, TEXASAll youth league events at city facilities canceled through May 6.

CITY OF DENTON, TEXASAll league play and athletic programs including Denton Youth Soccer, Denton Boys Baseball and all field rental activities suspended through May 11.

CITY OF FORT WORTH, TEXASAll recreation center-hosted activities canceled until at least May 8..

CITY OF HIGHLAND VILLAGE, TEXASAll organized youth sports league games canceled from May 1-10.

All school district sporting events canceled through May 11.

TEXAS ASSOCIATION OF PRIVATE AND PAROCHIAL SCHOOLSRegion I-5A and 4A South Regional track meets scheduled for May 1 canceled.


SALT LAKE CITY CATHOLIC SCHOOLS, UTAHAll sports at Judge Memorial Catholic High School and Our Lady of Lourdes School canceled until May 5.

PARK CITY SCHOOLS, UTAHSchools and all sports activities closed through May 4.

CLOVER PARK SCHOOL DISTRICT, WASHINGTONLakewood High School sports activities canceled for May 1.

Further updates as events warrant. Please send any closing and cancellations to rkcookjr at, or through Twitter to @notgoingpro.

Written by rkcookjr

April 29, 2009 at 11:43 pm

A criminal coaching your child? More likely than you’d think!

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Sorry to use the TV news sweeps headline. I don’t mean to scare you that every person who might coach your kid is a felon, especially because of the off chance you’re a reader whose kid I coach. But the cost and limited efficacy of criminal background checks means that it’s very possible someone is going to slip through the cracks.

For example, someone like Marlon Rayford Wade II. The Saraland, Ala., Dixie Youth Baseball League coach was arrested April 16 on a charge of cocaine trafficking after police said they found $24,000 worth of those twinkling, twinkling grains in his Mobile home. That’s Mobile, Ala., not Mobile as in double-wide. That arrest is not so much the shocker. After all, if someone has never been arrested, he or she is not going to show up in a background check.

Except two problems here, as highlighted in the Mobile Register. First, Saraland Dixie Youth Baseball, which is affiliated with the city’s recreation department, does not conduct background checks. And even if it did, Wade probably wouldn’t have shown up even though he’s had a few prior arrests.

By a few, I mean 31 in 19 years.

But they were all for misdemeanors, and none involved any harm to a child. (The Mobile Register story doesn’t note how many convictions Wade had.) In most cases, the background checks done by your child’s league are looking for felonies only, and particularly for felonies that involve children or violence in general. And, according to the Register:

Wade had been certified with the National Youth Sports Coaches Association as recently as 2007, according to the group that touts itself as “America’s leading advocate for positive and safe sports and activities for children.”

169095954_ad8fe9ae3bYou have the right to remain silent. You have the right to an attorney. You have a right to coach 8U boys’ soccer if we only find a handful of weed  or you can plead down to disorderly conduct.

You might ask, with good reason, how could someone like this slip through? How could any organization in good conscience let someone like Wade slip through, especially in not paying at all for background checks?

Well, there are a couple of reasons.

The cost issue sounds like a cop-out, but the cost of a basic background check (a search of current name and address against a crime database) can run from anywhere from $1 to $10 per check, assuming the local police aren’t doing them for free. Not per name — per check. So if you’re looking at more than one jurisdiction or coach’s address, that counts as an extra check. It doesn’t seem like much, but it adds up. I could see how organizations that have never had any prior criminal troubles with coaches decide to save a few bucks and cross their fingers.

And for your money, in most cases you’re not getting a guarantee that you’re seeing everything, especially because there are police and courts that don’t contribute to the databases the background check agencies use. They also don’t go back more than the coach’s current address. The background checks are good if you’re trying to prevent someone currently on a sex offender list from coaching, but not wholly effective otherwise.

By the way, it’s stunning how many violent and sexual offenders are still trying to get close to your kids through coaching. The Register reports that Mobile city-run sports uses a background check through the local police that weeds out such offenders — and that the department was sending rejection notices to 30 out of 800 applicants for youth football and basketball coaching positions for failing those checks. Does that number seem high to anyone else?

I noted at the beginning of the month a Denver Post that recommended you play private detective to get more information on coaches. The advice was wholly impractical for parents who have other things to do, like work and raise children. But that doesn’t mean you should completely trust a coach, or ignore the little voice inside that says something is wrong.

If you want quick questions to ask to make sure things are OK, here are two you can ask a league that can go a long way toward determining if everything is on the up-and-up:

— Do you do criminal background checks? (Even a minimal one is better than nothing.)

— Are coaches allowed alone with children? (It’s optimum that there’s an assistant so there are two adults at one time, but you want to know that at least the coach is always with a group of kids, not one-on-one)

Do no-score leagues cause killing sprees?

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Many will blame youth sports for the, as George Carlin put it in his later, crankier, much unfunnier years (in a line stolen by many crankier, much more unfunny hacks), the “wussification” of America. You know, kids not learning there are winners and losers, and not learning everybody doesn’t get a trophy, and demanding as grownups they be treated like 5-year-old soccer players. Maybe they’re right. Or maybe they sound like Mr. MacAfee in “Bye Bye Birdie,” bitching about kids.

But the “wussification” of youth sports as a reason behind killing sprees? That hypothesis, offered by Athens State (Ala.) University psychology professor Mark Durm in an interview with the Athens News-Courier, is a new one on me.

Killing sprees are on his mind, and the local News-Courier’s, because Athens is 20 miles from Priceville. That’s where on Tuesday a man, on the eve of his divorce hearing, killed his estranged wife and three other family members, burned down their house, and then killed himself. In the last month there have been at least eight mass killings — three of them in Alabama.

Mark Durm, an Athens State University instructor, said because of early childhood training, when adults don’t get what they want they react with “knee-jerk hostility.”

While Durm said there are “undoubtedly many other variables” when someone goes on a killing rampage, early conditioning plays a big part in how people deal with frustration.

Here is the excerpt from Durm’s interview with the News-Courier that had me rubbing my eyeballs in disbelief:

Durm said he has given a lot of thought to mass killings, especially since the slaying of 15 people at an immigration office last week by someone who had lost his job.

“I think we also no longer teach children how to handle emotions, but it is deeper in some ways,” he said. “We are a society where no one can lose. Sometimes in youth sports leagues they don’t keep score so no one loses. When they get to be adults and lose the person they love, they don’t know how to tolerate it.

“You need to learn how to lose before you can win.”

Really? The implications are staggering — millions of children, their psyches no longer soothed because everybody no longer gets a trophy, going on mass killing sprees when things don’t go their way. I had a hard time believing Durm was serious. I thought he might have been misquoted.

A little research on Durm finds that he is the antithesis to a no-score league, a tough grader who has studied extensively the history of handing out A’s and B’s, and F’s. (He’s also a debunker of paranormal activity and Alabama’s religiosity.) You also can find his email address — so I contacted him to ask about what he was quoted as saying in the News-Courier.

Here is a slightly edited back-and-forth we had today (mostly edited to take out the rambling introduction to myself I wrote for Durm, and his inquiry about whether I had gotten one of his notes because he was having computer problems):

Your Kid’s Not Going Pro: Is this [opinion] conjecture on your part, or is this something you’ve researched? What is the connection between that sort of treatment in youth sports (or otherwise as children) and what’s happening now? Is there any research you can point to on this subject? … If there’s any bias I have on the subject of no-score leagues, it’s that in my experience I feel like they’ve been used to guarantee the parents will shut up. The kids usually know the score.

Mark Durm: Bob..its mainly conjecture on my part… my knowledge there is very little, if any, research on “no losing” sports. Several years ago we were sold a lot of hogwash about hurting a child’s self esteem…………but one can never get up if one has never fallen down.

YKNGP: My follow-up would be then, how does one make the connection, even through conjecture, from “no losing” sports to mass killings, even as a small factor in why we appear to be seeing more of them? For example, in cases like the shooter in Binghamton, the evidence presented thus far appears to be of a man who had fallen down repeatedly, not one who went off after the first time things went wrong.

Durm: Specifically the man in binghamton had an Asian mindset [Editor’s note: the shooter was from Vietnam]…… my knowledge he had just “lost face”. The connection in our culture, in my opinion, is if I do not get my way you pay.

YKNGP: One more question. Given the cultural norms you talk about it, why don’t we see more of
these deadly outbursts? After all, we lose face or don’t get our way frequently.

Durm: Because “spurned” people extract different level of payments……………..those with the least control(and many variables come into play here) extract the payment of your life.

So while it’s a stretch to say he thinks no-score leagues turn children into mass killers, he’s definitely saying, it doesn’t help to not turn them into killers.

The conversation ended because I had no more immediate questions. Why didn’t I ask about the Asian thing, which seems, um, a bit of a broad brush? My purpose was to find out Durm’s opinion on youth sports’ connection to the violence we see, not his thoughts and impressions of Asian cultures. You can fill in your own blanks on that one. I just wanted to confirm Durm meant what he told the newspaper.

I will say that I think Durm is guilty of what many are guilty of, both on the subject of youth sports and mass murder — gross oversimplification. No-score leagues, as part of a self-esteem curriculum, might accentuate some already-spoiled kids’ diva tendencies — but as of yet there’s no empirical evidence (even by Durm’s own admission) they turn children into adults incapable of handling setbacks, much less ones who will act out violently when they don’t get their way.

And it’s hardly Durm who pins some sort of easy, overarching cause to mass shootings. Of course, there’s the old standby, easy access to guns. These days, there’s always economic oppression.

I don’t know more than anybody else why we’re seeing so many mass killings. It might be one of these things. It might be all of these things, and more. But I have a hard time believing no-score leagues will turn an otherwise stable child into a future spree killer. Or a future wuss.