Your Kid’s Not Going Pro

A Youth Sports Blog

Posts Tagged ‘fathers

Ron Harper's kid is going pro

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418282085_a1519c3a28_mNo, not that Ron Harper.

You might have heard lately about a wunderkind named Bryce Harper, a Las Vegas high school baseball player who already has scouts writing reports so breathless and glowing, Fabio should be on the cover. Speaking of covers, you might have seen Bryce “Baseball’s LeBron” Harper on the cover of Sports Illustrated, unless you live in the Midwest (we got the Detroit Red Wings), or you are so Internet-centered you have no idea what a “cover” or a “Sports Illustrated” is.

Jeremy Tyler, a 6-foot-11 basketball wonder from San Diego, raised some hackles when he announced he would leave high school after his junior year to play pro ball in Europe, and get his GED along the way. The Harper family is raising even more hackles, enough hackles to get farm subsidies for them, by announcing 16-year-old Bryce is leaving high school after his sophomore year to play in a community college and get his GED so he can enter the major-league baseball draft earlier. (Thus turning community college into the real-life punchline for the old joke about it being high school with ashtrays. Except that with smoking laws as they are, the ashtrays are gone. So what is the new punchline?)

The part of the news conference that interested me the most was a line from Ron Harper that was pulled by Youth Sports Parents:

“People question your parenting and what you’re doing. Honestly, we don’t think it’s that big a deal. He’s not leaving school to go work in a fast food restaurant. Bryce is a good kid. He’s smart and he’s going to get his education.”

Ron Harper is in a difficult position here. Sure, he pretty much since day one trained Bryce to be a pro baseball player, though he seems much more well-adjusted than your average Marv Marinovich. And clearly Bryce is a sureshot future No. 1 pick. The Sports Illustrated cover article’s comment about competition his own age makes it clear that Bryce is way, way ahead, to the point that it’s probably hurting his own development as a player.

Managing a prodigy is no easy task. Move ahead too quickly, and you risk turning your child into a nut job like Michael Jackson. More ahead too slowly, and you might squelch and squander your child’s talent. I know this to a very, very small extent.

When I had just turned five, my parents moved me out of my kindergarten class into a first-grade class at another school because I had what, in the mid-1970s in a small Michigan town, was considered a major problem: I knew how to read. Well, it was a particular problem for the teacher, who was ticked when I would read the kids the angry notes she wrote about them. From what I told, I was crying most every day coming home from school, so my parents were faced with a tough decision: keep me in kindergarten, where I was miserable, or move me up to a grade where I would be more academically challenged.

Their decision to move me up was not met with understanding. My dad tells story of having to, literally, throw people off of his front porch because of the angry arguments about. And believe you me, when I was 14 while everyone else in my class was getting their drivers’ license, or 19 when my friends were allowed to drink legally, I wasn’t sure about the wisdom of the decision. Being two years’ younger than my classmates often was tough socially, and it definitely was a disadvantage in sports, as well.

However, I have come to understand over time that as a parent, you have to make the best decision with the information you have at the time. And I’ve led a mostly happy, successful life. No $20 million or so signing bonuses are awaiting me, but by any measurement I’ve had things go pretty well.

Maybe someday Bryce Harper will look back and think that leaving high school early was a mistake. I’m sure Ron Harper’s stomach is churning. Maybe Bryce Harper will get a big signing bonus and crap out because his maturity is lacking. Or maybe moving ahead early will help his game and his maturity level. We just don’t know. And that’s the fun and pain of parenting: you make a decision, and you never know how you child will turn out as a result of it.

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Michael Lewis whines about getting his moneyballs snipped

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And to the division of Your Kid’s Not Going Pro dedicated to them not doing so because Your Kid’s Never Existing.

USA Today health columnist Kim Painter notes various doctors talking about the tough image of the vasectomy. Tough, in that many men shiver at the thought of issuing a plant closing notice to their vas deferens. Although, according to Painter’s column, the tough economy is causing more men to decide to shut down sperm production like they were GM.

Part of the image problem, Painter notes, is a recent essay by Michael Lewis, in a book called Home Game: An Accidental Guide to Fatherhood, another book Joe Morgan won’t read. (With that title, the book should have been written by Desmond Hatchett.) The essay is about Lewis’ vasectomy, which appeared in the Guardian newspaper in the UK. The essay, not the vasectomy.

Even taking into account Lewis’ tongue-in-cheek account of the perils of parenthood (something Louis CK does far more uncomfortably and hilariously), he (and a few of his friends) comes off as a bit of prick, no pun intended:

The time had come for Daddy to take one for the team.

… Now, with the doctor’s scalpel just minutes away, it was drowned out by a new sound, of a grown man screaming: “They’re going to cut a hole in my johnson!”

I mean, why am I really here, stretched out and hairless and exposed and not knowing what to say to the mute lady scraping away south of the border? What’s the meaning of this outrage? This operation wasn’t about birth control. It was about life control.

I should have fought for my reproductive rights, like other men. A friend of mine, when his wife suggested he might go and get himself gelded, had just laughed and said, “What if I want a trophy wife one day?” Another had declined his wife’s invitation to a beheading by saying, “What if you and the kids go down in a plane crash?” Other men I knew refused the operation on the grounds of rumours they had heard about the side effects.

“I have a friend who had it done and he couldn’t feel his dick for 10 months,” a guy at a dinner party told me knowledgeably. “After that I said no way.” …

I rose from the table, and wobbled. Glued by sweat to my backside, from neck to thigh, was a paper bedsheet that came away only in strips and patches as I picked at it. I stepped into my trousers, hobbled to my car, and drove myself home. A hero to my wife. A traitor to my sex.

A traitor to your sex? As a male, I don’t care of others are getting cut, not getting cut, or going the full eunuch.

I’m speaking as a man who has gone under the ol’ slice-and-dice. My wife and I talked about me doing it after our third child, and in fact I had an appointment scheduled. But some conflicts arose, and somehow I never got around to re-scheduling. After we had our fourth child, I got around to it.

I understand a lot of men are squeamish about getting a vasectomy, although after watching my wife give birth four times I was pretty sure any pain I felt was going to be extremely, extremely minor in comparison. Plus,  I was looking forward to the surgery because that would allow me to watch sports and play video games all weekend so I could “recover.” You know you’re a busy, veteran parent when you look forward to illness or injury because you know it’s the only way you’ll ever get a break.

It probably helped that unlike Lewis’ friends, mine were enthusiastic in extolling the virtues of the vasectomy. One friend explained it to me, appropriately enough, as we were in another junk-related situation, standing in line for the men’s room at halftime, inappropriately enough, at a Notre Dame football game under the watchful eye of anti-birth control Touchdown Jesus. As my friend put it, the greatest thing about the vasectomy is the freedom of knowing when you’re having sex, you’re just having sex — no sweating whether you’ve got another kid on the way. (This is the same instinct that has single douchebags getting snipped so the only thing they’ll come away with after an encounter is VD.)

Before I got the surgery, I had the requisite counseling session with the urologist. He noted that I would be given a low-grade Valium the morning of the surgery. I asked, why do you do that? “To help you relax. A lot of men get nervous. Some throw up.” I bet those are the moments that doctor regrets choosing urology.

My surgery went without a hitch, and with just a few stiches. The pain wasn’t even all that bad. And I got my weekend retreat.

So to men like Lewis and his buddies, I say, when it comes to getting a vasectomy: Sack up.

Written by rkcookjr

June 15, 2009 at 6:54 am

Jamie Moyer: crazy sports parent

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In the same Sports Illustrated featuring an excerpt of Mark Hyman’s youth-sports-are-maiming-our-children tome “Until It Hurts” and a profile of an ESPN high school national championship won by Findlay Prep, which is not in reality a high school, comes a profile of Jamie Moyer, an athlete who seems to be a living argument against overemphasizing your youth athlete  in a single sport as a means of getting to the majors.

Moyer, a Philadelphia Phillies pitcher, is best known for being old and good, winning 213 of his 247 games after age 30 (he’s 46) with a fastball your kid could outrun. The story, by Michael Bamberger, notes Moyer was passionate about baseball early, but that he spent his high school sporting life playing “golf in the fall, basketball in the winter and baseball in the spring. … In the summer he’d work and play American Legion baseball and pickup basketball and squeeze in nine holes at the public course in the fading light.”

A well-rounded sports childhood. Probably explains how well he can use his wits, and why he’s been able to pitch so long without hurting himself. Surely he would use that example for his own seven children to follow…

…oh wait.

[The Moyer family moved from Seattle] to Bradenton [Fla.] for Dillon, a 17-year-old shortstop. And for Hutton, a 15-year-old second baseman. The family moved to Bradenton to further the baseball educations of the two oldest boys. Dillon, a high school junior, and Hutton, a freshman, are enrolled in the baseball program at the IMG Academy. They are full-time students and full-time ballplayers. Dillon and Hutton will not be mowing bumpy municipal ball fields [as Jamie did] anytime soon, but they take ground balls all year long.

“I grew up blue-collar, my kids are growing up in a major league environment,” [Moyer] says. As baseball players I want Dillon and Hutton to have the best possible coaching. Access to experts in nutrition. Weight training. Good competition. Exposure. They’ve said they want to see how far they can get in baseball. I’m fortunate to have the means to help them.”

And with that, thousands of intense sports parents got instant justification for what they’re doing.