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Posts Tagged ‘Australia

Australia has crazy sports parents, too

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A brief note in the continuing series noting that while the United States appears to have the most crazy sports parents, it has no lock on them. Earlier, I gave you South Korea. Now, I give you Australia.

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From the Sydney Morning Herald, in a story titled “Kids given everything for a leg-up on the field”:

Luke Fuller started playing soccer two years ago and he can already juggle the ball 161 times but that’s nothing compared with the daily juggle of his father, Brett, to keep his eight-year-old son training and playing the game.

Brett Fuller makes the hour-long trip each way from Bondi to Bexley four afternoons a week; the weekend run can much be further.

It may eat a large chunk out of the Fuller family life but Fuller says his son is so committed it’s only right to support his passion.

”As soon as he was to say ‘I’m not enjoying it, I want days off’, I’d question it but while he’s keen and going fairly, well, I’ll back him all the way,” he says.

”He’s enjoying it now but he’s always thinking of the future and what he wants to get out of it – playing for Australia – they see all the stars in A-League and English soccer.”

”You’ve got parents willing to shop their kid around to any club that’s willing to take them – and in some cases willing to pay any price,” says Greg O’Rourke, the president of Australia’s largest soccer community, the Sutherland Shire Football Association.

Some clubs poach junior players from the age of 10, but O’Rourke believes most of the pressure comes from parents who feel their child needs the opportunity to play at the top level.

The dream, fuelled by the tinsel and wrapping of modern celebrity status, is all-consuming. One soccer mum – whose nine-year-old son is well outside the elite ranks – had her boy tell her recently he was ”really, really worried”.

Not about school or bullying or having no friends.

”I’m really worried that I might grow up and just be a normal person when I really want to be a soccer star,” he said.

As much as parents might be living out their own frustrated dreams, children have dreams of their own. It’s a potent mix, with O’Rourke offering a timely anecdote.

”There’s plenty of parents who will happily pay $2500 for private training during the holidays and you ask them why and it’s because they’re going to be the lucky parent of the next Harry Kewell,” he says.

The winner of craziest sports parent in the story is one Mic Parish, who has the combination of dashed dreams of his own youth and egotism that should make him sound familiar to many American sports parents.

Mic Parish reckoned he was spending so much on his two sons – for so little return in terms of the quality of coaching they received – he sold his business, and moved them to England.

”If you’re interested in football, really there is nowhere else to be but over here. Australia is starting but it’s really a football backwater,” he says.

Australian parents have few options but to pay for private academies if they’re serious about success, says Parish, whose sons, Cameron, 17, and Nathan, 15, play with Preston North End.

”You’ve got no choice because the coaching you get is poor. If you’re serious about it and you want your kids to have any chance, you’ve got to do it. Unfortunately, that’s just the way it is,” he says.

And Parish is clearly serious about it, believing his own career as a goalkeeper came to an end at 18 because no one was managing his advancement. He’s determined his children will have every chance and, if their English sojourn ends in failure, so be it.

”At least we can say we lived in in another country, made some friends, we had a go but it didn’t work out; we’ll move home and go again.”

It’s probably encouraging to Parish that a similar philosophy worked out for the Bee Gees.

Written by rkcookjr

April 13, 2010 at 10:35 pm

You can't spell 'abusive sports parents' without U.S.

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A survey of horrid sports parent behavior confirms a point of American pride. Yet it also portends a threat to it from a country already taking our tech support jobs and, apparently with them, our dominance at yelling “fuck you” at a referee, especially after special dialect training.

The Reuters poll asked 23,351 adults in 22 countries if a) they had even been to a kids’ sporting events and b) if they had even seen parents become verbally or physically abusive toward coaches or officials. (Left unasked was how many of those adults were pedos cruising the sidelines.) The poll found 37% of adults attended children’s sporting events, and the most abusive nation was:

U.S.A! U.S.A! U.S.A.!

Sixty percent of the adults who attended kids’ sporting events in the United States agreed with the statement that they had seen physical and verbal abuse at those games. And I know you share my reaction: only 60 percent?

And who is profanely nipping at America’s heels? India!

Can you believe 59 percent of adults in India said they witnessed physical and verbal abuse at coaches and referees? First India takes our jobs, and now it takes our awful spectating habits? So when do you start serving your kids shitty hot dogs and Capri-Sun after games, India?

Italy (55 percent), Argentina (54 percent), Australia (53 percent) and Canada (5o percent) are also coming close to the United States, as well.

What this means, my fellow Americans, is that if we want to keep our dominance in something, for once, it’s time to get serious. I mean, fucking serious, or I’ll kick your fucking ass.

If we as a nation want to keep our title of Craziest Sports Parents, we have to step up our games. Get more obscene! Punch the coach! Slap the ump! Beat your children! What are you, a fucking pansy? You want fucking INDIA to be crazier than us? Things have gotten so bad in this country, we’re going to start OUTSOURCING throwing shit at the coach?

That’s bad enough, but if this keeps up, someday we’re going to be out-crazied by Canada. Canada! But Canadians are so polite! You’re going to let yourself be outcrazied by someone who yells, “Stick that call up your ass! Please?”

Over the years, America has lost a lot that has made her great. Don’t lose her ability to make her children shamed with embarrassment on the field of play.

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Written by rkcookjr

April 8, 2010 at 12:24 am

Making youth sports less taxing

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In Australia, there’s a movement to get tax breaks to help pay your kids’ fees for participating in organized athletics.

From the Northern Star, the newspaper in Lismore, New South Wales (three hours’ drive south of Brisbane and 10 hours north of Sydney):

Far North Coast parents and sporting identities have called on the Federal Government to broaden tax deductions for working families to include affiliation fees to sporting clubs, thereby encouraging participation, reducing the impact on the hip pocket and combating childhood obesity.

The Federal Government allowed the associated costs of sending children to school, such as uniforms and computers, to be a tax deduction in sweeping changes last year and many believe sport is the next frontier.

Dr David Arthur, a senior lecturer at the College of International Sports Management at Southern Cross University, says the cost of sport is becoming prohibitive for many families.

“Making sporting fees a tax break is a great idea,” he said.

“You could possibly tie that in with the private health system somehow, I don’t know. It would help the government to combat poor health and allow more people to have their kids involved in sport.

2256838871_5a376632c9_mWithout a tax break the child on the right will never resemble the one on the left. Think of the little people.

Tax dollars to support your neighbor’s kid on the travel baseball team? It’s closer than you’d think. Specifically, north of the border. Beginning Sept. 1, 2007, Canada instituted a tax break on the first $500 of fees for a child’s approved sports and activities. Basically, if you’re a Canadian parent, you get a 15 percent discount come tax time on that first $500 — and that’s per child, not total. And that’s just from the federal government. Depending on your province, you can get a similar credit at that level. In Nova Scotia, the credit extends to adult sports as well. There is a movement to get the child sports credit extended to adults nationwide, figuring it’ll save at least 135 million loonies a year in health costs.

773160242_623bd5c1c1The money we save can buy us more beer, backbacon and smokes, eh? Koo-LROO-kookookookookoo-KOOOOO!!!!

Canada is not the only country to give out these kind of breaks. For example, in Malaysia you can take a tax deduction on the cost of your sporting equipment.

The Canadian plan has its flaws. The $500 available to deduct isn’t much, given how much some sports will run you. It also doesn’t factor in equipment purchases or travel. At least in the first year of  the deduction’s existence,  it did nothing to turn around plummeting youth sports participation rates or reduce obesity, but I haven’t found any formal studies done recently to find out whether anything has changed since then. Plus, even if a deduction did increase youth sports participation, at least in the United States obesity rates have risen in parallel with participation rates. So merely increasing participation doesn’t guarantee reduced childhood obesity.

However, maybe those Canuckleheads are on to something. In the United States we allow owners of college sports stadium skyboxes to deduct 80 percent of the expense of owning it for the purpose of not watching the game. It would seem our tax breaks would be wiser handled by allowing, say, parents to deduct 80 percent of the expense of youth sports fees and equipment. (The recently passed stimulus package, like the current tax code, was very forthright that no tax breaks or money should be used to pay for athletics. Though the current code is the one that counts skyboxes as an educational contribution, and thus deductible.)

If nothing else, a tax break would help parents who are being priced out of leagues, particularly in this economy, and put our tax money to a more positive use. By god, are we going to let Australia beat us to the punch?

(Um, yes, probably.)

Written by rkcookjr

March 18, 2009 at 12:55 pm

Glenn Lines: Australian for “Stefano Capriati”

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2853177069_e0d5c22d64_m1Amazing how that joke has carried on long after that Foster’s ad campaign stopped. It did stop, right?

According to famed tennis coach Rick Macci, we should know in about five years how good a tennis player Mia Lines of Wartirna, Australia can be. After all, by then she’ll be all of NINE FUCKING YEARS OLD!!!!! (Um, emphasis mine.)

From the Telegraph of London (hat tip: Parent Dish):

Mia Lines picked up a racket at the age of only one and is now gaining from the enormous experience of renowned tennis coach Rick Macci at his [Florida] academy.

Macci has coached a series of Grand Slam winners but said he has never seen a more impressive player at the age of four than Mia, who is from Australia.

“I have seen hundreds of kids come through my school in the 25 years I have been doing this and I have never seen a four year old with such god-given talent,” he said.

Stunned by the precision of Mia’s ability to read the court and also because she can hit the ball from baseline to baseline, Rick is cautiously guarded about her potential due to her age.

“It is difficult to compare Mia to players I have coached like Venus and Serena Williams, Andy Roddick and Maria Sharapova,” the 54-year-old said. “Mia’s technique is incredible and what she is doing is bringing foot-work you can’t teach to the table.

“What I would say is ask me if she can go all the way in five years and I will be able to tell you then.

“In the meantime my opinion is that she can not be any better than she is at this age.”

OK, before we get to Glenn Lines, the budding Svengali behind his daughter, let’s analyze the implications what Rick Macci, he of his beloved Maccisms that are basically ripoffs of every past coach and self-help book you’ve ever heard of, just said:

— He’s seen a lot of four-year-olds play, enough to RANK them.

— He’s not quite douchebagish enough to compare little Mia already with Serena Williams, but he thinks he can do so when she’s NINE FUCKING YEARS OLD!!!!!

maccismsblockbottomrickAnother Maccism: “If you fail to pay me buckets of dough for the privilege, you haven’t really ruined your kid’s childhood.”

OK, but now onto the man who is really going to be responsible for his daughter’s future drug habit/shoplifting spree: Glenn Lines.

Like the most notorious of tennis dads — and that’s a long and distinguished lot — Lines decided sometime between his girl’s conception and birth that she would be a tennis player, and started training her according. Stefano Capriati had Jennifer doing baby sit-ups; Glenn Lines had Mia doing hand-eye coordination drills.

Also like most tennis dads, Lines is deluded that his daughter LOVES this, and needs this accelerated training because she LOVES it so much. Perhaps that is true now, because a four-year-old is more apt to be all about pleasing dad. And I certainly would never begrudge a child gifted at anything the opportunity for advanced work. But it would be one thing if Mia had, without prompting, picked up a tennis racket at one and started hitting balls. But instead it’s Glenn Lines shoving a racket in her hands and making her hit balls.

Lines told the Telegraph that he’s such a big tennis fan, he knew all about Macci (did he know about how annoying his web site is? I mean, beyond the stupid Maccisms, every time you run the mouse over a ball it makes a racket — literally the sound of a racket swinging and hitting a ball). Apparently he’s not enough of a tennis fan to remember how careers of such youngsters as Tracy Austin and Andrea Jaeger got waylaid by injury, or how Jennifer Capriati got waylaid by teenage rebellion.

Because Mia probably doesn’t know how to read, I’ll address this message to Glenn Lines: you think you’re doing well for your daughter, but you’re not. Back off for a while and see if she stays interested in tennis. You might not be able to retired on her winnings at 15, but you’ll have a well-adjusted daughter who loves you. And you won’t have this: