Your Kid’s Not Going Pro

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Posts Tagged ‘Colorado

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.

A life full of youth sports teaches one high schooler to hate them

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Scott Martin will graduate this spring from Cherry Creek High School in suburban Denver with a graduation cap on his head, science fair awards on his college application and a chip on his shoulder.

How do I know this? I know from the Denver Post. Martin took a break from cross country practice to pen a piece for the newspaper on why he hates youth sports. Along the way, he struggles with the lesson I try to teach with the name of this blog.

I hate sports. I hate everything about them — the politics, the commitment, the late practices, the early practices, the hard work, the running, the skating, the tryouts, the sprints, the ladders, the boring drills, the overly enthusiastic parents, the cheers, the mascots, the jerseys, the screaming, the injuries, the repetition and, more than anything, the competition and pressure.

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Yes, I’m the same child who grew up on soccer fields, the very same boy who played competitive soccer and hockey, and the same adolescent who, in less than three months, will try out for varsity lacrosse, but I’ve suddenly realized I loathe everything remotely associated with sports.

I’m sure Cherry Creek lacrosse coach Bryan Perry is thrilled with that attitude.

What caused this drastic change? Last year, a high school football player in Kentucky was allegedly “practiced to death,” although his coach was acquitted in September. Just before school started this fall, two young teens from St. Louis collapsed during practice and died. Since the season started, two high school seniors in California and Chicago collapsed during games and died.

I realized that we as a society take our children’s sports too far. Excessive parental involvement, ridiculous coaching policies, and programs built toward only victory have created a purely competitive, commitment-based sporting environment, turning kids off the games they love and distracting younger generations from the important humanizing elements that sports can teach.

American kids traditionally are enrolled in soccer by the age of 5 or 6, before many can proficiently read and write. We live in an age when the athletic scholarship overshadows the academic scholarship, where the sport you play determines the money you make. It’s a time in which the only way to get where you want to go is if you start early and never stop.

What makes this piece more interesting than the usual youth-sports-is-a-sham rant is that usually the sort of athletic self-awareness displayed by a high school student. Maybe young Scott Martin, reflecting as he’s soon to make a major educational and life transition, is feeling like he would have been better off spending more time studying the effects of various propeller designs on the efficiency of an underwater turbine and less time at hockey practice. This reads like the sort of thing a bitter ex-athlete would write after he’s spent his life preparing for a pro career, living the pro dream, and realizing it’s never going to happen.

And, in fact, Martin is that person. The first clue came early in the piece, when he said “there was I time I dreamed big.” In the last paragraph comes this:

It’s disheartening to know that despite all the hard work and time I’ve sacrificed, I still won’t go pro. And it’s ridiculous that I should even care about that.

Clearly, this blog needed to exist a decade or so ago so a just-beginning-to-read Scott Martin would have gotten the message about Not Going Pro. However, I suspect Martin’s upset is less about his own dashed pro dreams and more a regret at all the hours and hours and hours, all the family events missed, all the time with friends put aside, so he could get chewed out by some coach for what turned out to be no practical reason. I suspect that he’s not the first young athlete to feel this way, and he’s certainly not going to be the last. Heck, you can go to any field, court or pitch any day of the week to see 12- or 13-year-olds mentally drained from nonstop practice since age 4 or 5, and the parents and coaches who have no idea, or choose not to see, what’s going on.

An interesting comment under the story that I think says a lot about why Scott Martin might be feeling a bit burned out on sports, and speaks much better to the youth sports environment than the self-proclaimed old-school types who say the problem is everybody getting trophies:

I’m guessing that, as a kid, his parents put him in one of those soccer leagues where no score was kept, everybody was declared a “winner”, and everybody got participation medals. Right?
Seriously, I would not agree that sports have become more competitive. I would say that youth sports have become more professional, and that’s not a good thing. Everything from cheerleaders to team managers is modeled after high level college or pro teams. Kids nowadays have to have the very best equipment, and every parent must attend every practice to see how little Addison or Jacob is doing. When I was a kid, there weren’t any parents watching practice. And the family car must have a decal with the kids name and number on it. Plus, it seems that by age 8 or 9, a kids has to chose which sport he/she is going to specialize in. There aren’t any 3 or 4 sport kids in high school. The fun aspect has definitely been lost, and that’s due to the increased professionalism, not increased competition.

Written by rkcookjr

October 19, 2009 at 10:38 pm

Priorities, by Colorado Springs

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The city of Colorado Springs, Colo., is in a budget crunch, and one proposed way to get out of it is draconian cuts in its Department of Parks of Recreation — including eliminating all adult and youth sport programs. In this, the city has the enthusiastic assent of the local Gazette. Twice.

Meanwhile, the city is also struggling to come up with the $27.5 million loan it needs to cover its cost of the $53 million booty that got the U.S. Olympic Committee to keep its headquarters in Colorado Springs. The city says it’s just a matter of market timing, and it will get done. This was a deal that got the enthusiastic assent of the local Gazette.

So in Colorado Springs, the Olympic administrator will get its money, but the local future Olympians may well not. This is not a way to, as one prominent local organization might put it, focus on the family.

Written by rkcookjr

February 20, 2009 at 4:58 pm

Purple haze (crotch in my face)

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Do you ever wonder why it seems so difficult to get rid of hazing in youth sports? Do you wonder why it seems acceptable to some people that athletes be put through degradation to “earn” the respect of their teammates?

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Adult reaction to hazing might provide a clue. Such as some of the comments on the site of the Berthoud (Colo.) Recorder (your hometown paper for 28 years!) below a story on a high school wrestler charged with four counts of third-degree assault for hazing incidents that were alleged to have occurred in November and December.

Brandyn Wahlert, an 18-year-old senior, a state finalist last year, wasn’t the only wrestler suspended from Berthoud High for the alleged hazing. But he’s the only one who was of age to charge as an adult — and the only one back on the wrestling team with the kids he was alleged to have victimized. Did I mention he was a state finalist last year?

To be fair to Wahlert, no one has said what exactly he did. But the issue is less about him and more about attitudes toward hazing. Bias note: I find hazing to be a stupid, pointless ritual that only allows some people to get their rocks off by abusing other people in the name of “togetherness.” (The available empirical evidence appears to back me up.) I also never joined a fraternity.

My feeling is not shared. Back to the comments under the Berthoud Recorder story on Wahlert being charged. I am leaving out the ones who dislike hazing, which are plentiful. I don’t know that most of the community finds hazing to be just ducky. What I want to reflect are the adults out there who find hazing to be just another part of growing up. As long as they are around, hazing will be, too. After all, Wahlert is hardly alone. A week after he was charged, five wrestlers from Thomas Stone High in Maryland were facing misdemeanor charges in their own hazing incident.

All punctuation and spelling errors are theirs.

I,m a parent of a wrestler at Berthoud and know Brandyn personally he,s a great kid that was messing around as others on the team have done similar things but he,s the only one charged. I feel terrible this has happened. I,m sure he has learned from this and we hope he knows we care about him, good luck Brandyn. Brandyn has taught my son and others more about wrestling then some of the coaches. Everyone has made mistakes. Just remember when you were a kid. Everyone deserves a second chance don,t judge him because if you met him and been around him for years you know he,s a great good who made a mistake. …

It is so unfortunate that the media does not explain the truth about what really happened. It has been sensationalized and all the facts have not been explained. It seems that the law enforcement agencies have decided to make an unwarranted example of Mr. Wahlert at the expense of the truth. He has been singled out and I feel, discriminated against. Have the DA and the police officer forgotten what it was like to be a kid, since they are the only one’s pressing charges. None of the Wrestler’s or their parents are. In fact, they are supporting Brandyn. It seems to me that a whole bunch of time, money and energy could and should be directed towards much more important issues. Shame on You!!!! …

The Berthoud Police Dept and the media should be ashamed of themselves for letting this go as far as it has. Brandyn is a good kid and dosen’t deserve this. He was suspended for 10 days and now the police dept in their infinite wisdom is charging him. Two kids at the same high school Brandyn goes to got in a fight and one of the kids knocked the others teeth loose. The kids involved in the fight got one day in school suspension and the police were not called. Sounds kinda like they are singling him out. Hey Berthoud PD. Why don’t you focus your time and resources on something worth while. At least a little more than harrassing a high school kid. …