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Parents search for dislike button after coach’s Facebook rants

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Fellow coaches: I know we all have complaints from time to time about the parents of the children we lead. Complaints like, they’re fucking asshole making our lives hellish and shorter, and filling us with existential dread as we watch their poor offspring take their first steps toward a future appearance on Dr. Phil.

But, shit, most of us are smart enough to limit our complaints to ourselves, our spouses, or our little-read blogs. Most of us are smart enough not to jump onto whatever social media site is handing to broadcast our pain.

Jason Windsor, recently resigned soccer coach at Royal Oak (Mich.), is not most of us. From the Royal Oak Tribune:

Just a few weeks into the season, Jason Windsor suddenly resigned his position as varsity soccer coach at Royal Oak High School following complaints by parents about his Facebook postings.

Windsor resigned Monday [Oct. 4] because of schedule conflicts [he coaches other travel teams], according to Superintendent Thomas Moline. However, a copy of the coach’s Facebook page indicates there was a conflict between him and some parents, too.

Last week parents confronted school officials about the coach using the social networking site to threaten to penalize players if parents crossed him. Windsor contends his account was hacked and he didn’t make the comments in question.

One Facebook posting said: “3 words my varsity soccer parents will get used to this week. BENCH, JV, CUT. You will all be taught a lesson you sh– stirring pri—!!!!!!!”

In other posts, he is accused of dropping F-bombs and wrote “(certain) Parents are the worst part of kid’s sports” and “great set of results on the field today! shame certain soccer moms make soccer so negative.”

I presume WIndsor, or that mysterious band of hackers, didn’t type hyphens to play what Sports Illustrated’s Steve Rushin once referred to as “obscene hangman.”

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Written by rkcookjr

October 6, 2010 at 11:22 pm

Arrested coach pictured poorly in court, on Facebook

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Unfortunately this happens a lot — a young-ish assistant high school coach getting popped on charges related to fooling around (or trying to fool around) with the kids he coaches. However, these stories aren’t usually accompanied by the unflatteringly douchebaggish photo of the alleged perpetrator.

This story should teach any young coach that if you’re going to be stupid, depraved and unprofessional enough to go all Wooderson on high school girls, you should at least make sure your social network pictures don’t make you look like the kind of guy who might be that stupid, depraved and unprofessional.

From the Deseret News in Salt Lake City:

A well-known substitute teacher and sports coach in Moab has been arrested and charged with raping two teenage girls.

Trace Wells, 24, was charged [July 13] in 7th District Court with multiple counts of rape, possession of child pornography, forcible sex abuse and enticing a minor. …

Wells was a former football star at Grand County High School and worked as a substitute teacher at the high school and the local middle school. He also helped coach the high school track team, of which one of his victims was a member, said Grand County Sheriff’s Sgt. Kim Neal.

Wells and his family are fairly prominent in the community, according to officials. His father is the coach of the high school’s football and wrestling teams. His grandmother is a member of the Grand County Council, Neal said. …

The victims were 15 and 16 years old and both girls whom Wells had known for awhile, Neal said. The child porn charges stem from alleged “sexting” (texting of sexual pictures) of at least one of the victims, he said.

And here is the profile picture on Trace Wells’ Facebook and MySpace pages, a shot the Deseret News picked up and used on its site:

I will emphasize that Trace Wells, like anyone arrested, is innocent until proven guilty. But, sheesh, this isn’t helping.

You can use social media to get somebody else's kid kicked off the team!

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After a federal judge refused to overturn the school’s honor code, a 16-year-old Yarmouth (Maine) High lacrosse player decided not to fight her three-week suspension, and her school-mandated alcohol counseling, after the administration got its hands on Facebook pictures of her holding a can of Coors Light. (If you’re a beer snob like me, you might argue that Coors Light doesn’t count as beer, but for the sake of argument we’ll assume it does.)

You should be able to hold this whole truck’s contents in your hands and not violate an athletic honor code, because this truck contains no alcohol.

The question I haven’t seen answered is, how did the school get those pictures? Is the administration spending late nights, like creeps, searching its students’ Facebook profiles? Or, perhaps, would a campaign to besmirch the previously unsmirched be a little more orchestrated?

I’m not saying it happened in this case. But I am saying that in a social media age, if you’re a parent, or a player, wanting to attack some rival for getting more playing time/recognition/tail, what better way to eliminate your rival without the use of a hitman than to forward, surreptitiously, a Facebook photo of that rival doing something that violates the school’s athletic honor code, a document more sacrosanct than the U.S. Constitution?

This is not meant to cast aspersions on anyone involved in the Yarmouth case. After all, the 16-year-old had a beer, or something that had legal standing as beer, in her hand during the course of the lacrosse season in a clear violation of the school’s honor code, the law, and good taste. But if you want to fight evil with evil, it would be very, very easy to do.

In just about every high school since about forever ago, athletes and their parents have been required to sign honor codes that require action (suspension from the team, public apology, death by firing squad in the dean’s office) for various acts of moral turpitude and/or substance abuse (no tobacco, drinking, drugs, public sex with a farm animal) while the sports was in season. In my faint recollections of high school in the pre-Internet era, athletes (except for me, because I was a dork) engaged in all sorts of acts of dishonor, but the school never acted on anything unless something very public happened, like an arrest or sex with a farm animal in the parking lot of a Village Pantry.

The beauty of social media is the definition of “very public” has grown very much. Given the undiscriminating nature of teens’ party picture-taking, it would be fairly easy to pass around an incriminating photo of an athlete. For example, the two female athletes in Churubusco, Ind., who got put through the wringer, including having to explain themselves to an all-male panel, when someone got MySpace photos, off a private setting, of them licking phallus-shaped lollipops.

The ACLU took that case on, citing privacy issues, particularly the privacy in have private settings on stupid photos. So why didn’t it get involved in the Yarmouth case? I’ll surmise that the Indiana case was handled in a much more ham-handed way — the behavior happened over the summer, not during the season, and it didn’t necessarily appear to violate the school’s honor code. (Churubusco High cited a state athletic association rule as its reason for suspending the girls for a year for their Popsicle Twins imitation.) It’s harder to fight a case where the young athlete was caught doing something illegal during the course of the season.

In the Churubusco case, it was never established how the administration there got pictures that were supposed to be on a private MySpace site, for whatever that is worth. In this case and in the Yarmouth case, maybe there were concerned citizens fighting for the honor of the honor code who thought it was important their schools see what was happening.

But that seems a little weird to me. Not to defend any teenager doing something illegal or dangerous captured for posterity, but I have a hard time imagining somehow forwarding social media photos just because someone takes the honor code so seriously.

So if you’re a young athlete, I would recommend, for many reasons, you stay on the straight and narrow. And that if you don’t, make sure no one takes a picture of you. Because you don’t know whether your beer on Saturday ends up as an attachment in the principal’s email on Monday — especially if there’s someone out there who has a problem with you.

Written by rkcookjr

April 15, 2010 at 2:30 am

Cyberbullying and the suicide of a high school athlete

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In all seriousness: teenagers, if you’ve ever had the romantic notion that after you kill yourself, everyone will love you and miss you, then you haven’t been following the postscript of the March 21 suicide of West Islip, N.Y., high school student and star soccer player Alexis Pilkington.

That sounds a little cruel, because certainly plenty of people do love and miss the 17-year-old senior, who was set to play small-college soccer on her home Long Island after graduating in June. However, plenty of people have decided to treat her in death like apparently she was treated the same way in the waning days of her life — hounded by cyberbullying.

Suffolk County (N.Y.) police are investigating whether any criminal charges can or should be brought in the cyberbullying that apparently plagued Alexis Pilkington before she killed herself at her home. While plenty of people are ready to blame cyberbullying — the act of online harassment that’s quickly replacing getting the shit beat out of you or having your lunch money taken as the most popular form of bullying — for the girl’s decision to end her life, her family said she was undergoing counseling for an unspecified problem. “She was sick,” the West Islip Tribune quoted an uncle as saying. “She was fighting an illness we’ll never understand.”

Almost one month before Pilkington’s suicide, a speaker came to her school to discuss his son’s 2003 suicide, and how after the fact he discovered his son fighting off classmates online, or what were to become known as cyberbullies. It’s not known whether Pilkington attended that session, although school officials were quoted in local newspaper as saying that as a popular girl and sports star, she probably wouldn’t have.

At this point, it’s unclear exactly the nature of cyberbullying against Pilkington — who was doing it, what it was about, and why it was happening. Some friends have pointed the finger at Formspring.me, a new social networking site that allows users to register so they can ask and answer questions from other users, and have those questions and answers streamed to their Facebook and Twitter pages. Only a few days before Pilkington’s suicide, the company got a round of venture capital funding and made its big move from Indianapolis to Silicon Valley. I presume this is not the kind of big publicity it wanted right about now.

[youtubevid id=”cT18SqS-RH8″]

A tribute video that takes a moment to lambaste Formspring.me.

Is cyberbullying responsible for Alexis Pilkington’s death? I’m not sure there’s a definite answer to that. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists “isolation” as a contributing factor to suicide, and no doubt being constantly harassed online, particularly from peers or people you thought were your friends, can be incredibly isolating.

Legally, cyberbullying is not treated as an accessory to murder or manslaughter in case of suicide. On March 29, nine teenagers were charged in the high-profile cyberbullying of Phoebe Prince, a 15-year-old Irish immigrant to South Hadley, Mass., who killed herself Jan. 14. The charges were related to harassment and violation of civil rights (though two teens with statutory rape charges show that not all the alleged problems were online in nature.)

All we really know is: cyberbullying doesn’t help. And we know that for the most part parents, stuck in a generation gap where back in their day bullying required face-to-face contact, aren’t taking it seriously. I went to a talk at my son’s junior high school delivered by John Halligan, the same parent who appeared at West Islip High. More than 150 chairs were set up in the gym. Seven parents showed up.

As with old-time fist-in-the-face bullying, the problem is getting parents to believe their sweet little child is capable of something so nasty, but what makes cyberbullying especially problematic is that those parents are even less inclined to believe those words can hurt more than sticks and stones. (My wife and I just took texting off my 10-year-old daughter’s cell phone when two girls who have been friends started barraging her with disparaging remarks, rather than going through the dead end of confronting their parents about it.)

Also, as this scathing West Islip Tribune editorial points out, maybe growing seeing their parents flip out during youth sporting events, Tea Party rallies and long lines at the grocery checkout have given kids the idea that flipping out is an acceptable emotion to be used at any time.

[youtubevid id=”Y-Elr5K2Vuo”]

“I learned it by watching you!”

What’s even more unfortunate is that the cyberbullying of Alexis Pilkington isn’t resting after her death. Despite attempts to take down objectionable posts and photos as quickly as possible, an RIP site set up on Facebook is still rife with disparaging comments and obscene pictures. That’s resulted in another Facebook site ripping those who ripped her on the other site, which of course has attracted people to rip Alexis Pilkington on that site, too. A 15-year-old in West Islip has put up her own anti-cyberbullying Facebook site in response to all of this (the pre- and post-life activity), but who knows when that site will get blasted, too? (And, by the way, people have set up scores of malware sites for those who look at their pages to find out more regarding Alexis Pilkington’s death.)

Unlike the cyberbullying Pilkington apparently received before her suicide, it appears that much of the post-death traffic is coming from those who don’t know her, especially because I’ve seen references to the notorious message board denizens of 4chan.

Technically, that would not be cyberbullying, but trolling. No matter. Just remember, teens, that while you imagine yourself looking down from Heaven as the masses cry out your name, you’ll also be saying a lot of other people taking the opportunity to sully your name  without you around to defend it.

God and cheerleader at Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High

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If you attend one school board meeting this year, it looks like the one to attend will be Tues., Oct. 13’s regularly scheduled session of the Catoosa County School Board in Ringgold, Ga. That’s because the meeting will feature a large crowd of people always known to liven up an otherwise staid board or town hall meeting — religious fundamentalists.

They’re descending on Ringgold because over the last few weeks, a story has developed over Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High’s varsity football cheerleaders writing Bible verses on the huge tissue-paper poster the players run through for their spirited pregame entry, instead of their writing something less controversial like “Go Warriors,” “We’re 14th in the State in SAT Scores,” or “Meet Me After the Game for a Hand Job.”

3921854829_4e2645cf92How to strip a Bible verse of its context. The 10th chapter of Ezra starts like this: While Ezra was praying and confessing, weeping and throwing himself down before the house of God, a large crowd of Israelites—men, women and children—gathered around him. They too wept bitterly. Then Shecaniah son of Jehiel, one of the descendants of Elam, said to Ezra, “We have been unfaithful to our God by marrying foreign women from the peoples around us. But in spite of this, there is still hope for Israel. Now let us make a covenant before our God to send away all these women and their children, in accordance with the counsel of my lord and of those who fear the commands of our God. Let it be done according to the Law. Rise up; this matter is in your hands. We will support you, so take courage and do it.” So Ezra rose up and put the leading priests and Levites and all Israel under oath to do what had been suggested. And they took the oath.

This case of religion in public school sports is a bit of an oddball because the local resident who pointed out the possible illegality of the sign was not a hard-core atheist or someone else with a religious bone to pick. It was a parent who had taken a law class at the Jerry Falwell-founded Liberty University, and who had picked up the lesson through that religiously sympathetic institution that the cheerleaders’ signs could violate separation-of-church-and-state laws and be potentially divisive in the community.

Also a bit of an oddball, the superintendent, instead of sending the Holy Wrath of the Lord on all who would desecrate the cheerleaders’ sign, ordered no more Bible verses on the field. Denia Reese’s statement is a testament, no pun intended, to how a school official can grudgingly balance her personal beliefs and the rights of others:

“I regret that we had to ask the LFO cheerleaders to change the signs used in the stadium prior to football games. Personally, I appreciate this expression of their Christian values; however, as Superintendent I have the responsibility of protecting the school district from legal action by groups who do not support their beliefs.”

On the surface, the upcoming school board meeting appears to be a tribute to Christian passive-aggressiveness. From the Facebook page of those organizing a rally at the meeting:

This is not a political rally! This is simply a call to Christians to come out and pray for our school system and leaders who are making decisions. Also, to show our support for the sign.

We are going to continue to pray that some how the cheerleaders will get their signs back!

Several members of the community will be speaking to the board at 6 PM during public participation. We will gather for prayer outside of the board room at 7 PM.

Still, the way any public meeting goes, whether it’s about religion or not, there should be some fire and brimstone brought to the microphone stand. Hopefully, the school board stands firm. Like the superintendent, it can be as personally sympathetic as it wants. It can talk about what a good Christian community the school represents. It can talk about how the hand of Satan is behind the sign being taken away. But what the school board can’t do is give its blessing, no pun intended, that the sign return.

The superintendent set up a compromise where a big ol’ Bible verse sign can be put up before any steps onto school grounds to see a game. Hey, that’s great. But she and the board knows that if that sign goes back up on the field, a lawsuit is sure to follow, especially now that this case has gotten nationwide attention. It’s the same old story — nobody is stopping you from praying privately and on your own time that Jesus helps you smite the opposition. Just don’t make everyone pray with you.

Written by rkcookjr

October 12, 2009 at 12:14 am

Take your crazy sports parenting out of real life…

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…and put it online!

626990667_0742536ecb_m1Yes, crazy sports parents, the technology exists so you can still be as intense as ever, yet not make a scene! Here are five steps to using techonology to your crazy sporting advantage, and make yourself less likely to end up in the police blotter:

1. Don’t say spiteful things about the coach during the game. Instead, form a “I Hate Coach [Blank]” Facebook group!

2. Don’t scream at the refs. Send them angry text messages! “U SUCK LOLOLOLOLOL :(”

3. Don’t fight with parents, coaches, referees or even kids from the other team at the heat of the moment. Instead, send an Evite to fight them later! “You’re invited… to get your punk ass kicked by me in the alley behind the biker bar! Confirmed guests:  My fists of rock.”

4. Do you find yourself generating a constant stream of bitter chatter? Get a Twitter account! “@13YOREF FU and DIAF (updated one minute ago) @RECCOACH Ur a fukkin idiot (updated two minutes ago) …”

5. If you say, “I’m not a crazy parent!” and think you’re superior to those you believe are, start a smart-alecky blog!