Your Kid’s Not Going Pro

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Posts Tagged ‘Missouri

A yanked swimming scholarship, and why it's not wrong for parents to speak up

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The default position whenever parents get heavily involved in an athletic dispute involving their child is, they’re obviously overbearing, overindulgent busybodies who are turning their kids into pussies. (I’m not sure what the default substitute for “pussies” would be if the athlete is a girl.)

However, a lawsuit over a school’s role in a lost swimming scholarship has emerged in the St. Louis area that, if the parents’ allegations are true, makes me think: Yeah, I’d be suing their asses off, too.

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And I would hire Al Pacino from “And Justice for All” as my lawyer, for the drama.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Peter and Marzie McCoy of Wildwood, Mo., are suing their local school district after their daughter, a state championship swimmer, briefly lost her scholarship to Colorado State University after it reviewed a recommendation form filled out by a Lafayette High School counselor that was less than flattering. In theory, everybody followed procedure. The problem was, say that parents, that the counselor filling out the form had never met their daughter. From the July 9 Post-Dispatch:

The recommendation form, signed by Lafayette High School counselor Beth Brasel, said that Shannon McCoy was “below average” in five personal traits including initiative, character, integrity and leadership.

The McCoys said that the description of their daughter was “grossly inaccurate” and that Brasel had never met Shannon before the form was filled out.

Rockwood spokeswoman Kim Cranston said it was the district’s understanding that the recommendation form had nothing to do with the rescinding of McCoy’s scholarship, based on their contact with a Colorado State University admissions officer.

A message left Thursday for the admissions officer was not returned. [Brasel was also not available for comment.]

Predictably, many of the comments left by readers paint the parents (and their daughter, with her mere 3.0 grade-point average in an age of grade inflation) as spoiled brats, especially because they’re not dropping the lawsuit even after Colorado State, after the parents’ appealed, gave the scholarship back. At 80 percent of out-of-state tuition, room and board, that scholarship money is no small potatoes. Here is a comment by someone called cardsphan:

Cry me a river Parents. Way to teach your daughter to be a spoiled brat. What parents, teach their kids that if something goes wrong just sue for money to make it better. Did you ever think that maybe your daughter didn’t deserve a scholarship? I had one for athletics out of Marquette HS but i also had a 3.6 GPA. A 3.0 is not hard to get in HS, maybe the girl was to much into swimming and not her grades. IM JUST SAYIN

Given that grammar, I can believe a 3.6 GPA would be related to grade inflation.

As usual when these stories hit the local press, there is a lot we don’t know. We don’t know why that particular counselor filled out the form, and why she filled it out as she did. Did she really know Shannon McCoy? Had she heard stuff from other people? Had the parents and the school clashed in the past? Over what?

Until court papers are filed in response, we won’t know the school’s side of the story. Maybe Peter and Marzie McCoy are big pains in the ass who are doing their daughter a disservice. Or, maybe they do need to advocate for their daughter — and others in a similar situation — against an idiotic and possibly vindictive school bureaucracy.

The point is, we don’t know. And the other point is, until we do, we can’t make snap judgments about the parents — or the school, for that matter. But what I do feel confident saying is that it is NEVER wrong for a parent to speak out and least ask what is going on, or ask why something happened the way it happened.

There is a time and place for parents to advocate for their child, and parents deserve answers to their questions. On the other hand, parents need to approach these issues in as reasonable a manner possible, which admittedly can be difficult when you see your own child getting hurt. I am of a belief that reasonable people can reach reasonable conclusions. And, yes, sometimes that means parents finding out the hard truth that their kid is an asshole.

However, if that’s not the case here, if the school cavalierly and/or maliciously filled out a form in a way that screwed up a huge opportunity for Shannon McCoy — well, I hope the parents get every dime they’re asking for. I would want to, in that situation.

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2, 4, 6, 8, what we gonna legislate?

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In Missouri, it’s carving out as its own special assault the crime of beating the shit out of referees or coaches, something heartily supported by this columnist at the Blue Springs Examiner. The proposed state legislation, not beating the shit out of referees or coaches:

Usually I’m not a fan of the state legislature sticking its nose into the sports world.

The state representatives and senators have considered trying to take over the Missouri State High School Activities Association in the past, and that was a very bad idea.

But the Missouri House is currently considering legislation that would make penalties stiffer for attacking a sports official in the state.

And that is a very good idea.

It’s OK to disagree with a call now and then. I have to say I even have from time to time when watching my daughter’s games.

But officials in any sport have a tough enough time without having to worry about someone attacking them after – or during – the event.

And this proposed legislation would make people who have an inclination to do such things think twice before they act. Such attacks, under this bill, would mean the person instigating it would face up to a year in jail or a $1,000 fine. As of now, most of these attacks would fall under third-degree assault, which is punishable by only a $300 fine.

I would definitely brain a referee for $300. But for $1,000? Whoo, I’m sitting right back down. Just be glad, Missouri people, they haven’t yet taken away your right to even disagree with the ref.

Seriously, about 20 states have passed similar laws, though no one can track how many ref and coach assaults happened before the bills passed, and how many happened afterward. But even with no empirical evidence, we all feel better when these laws go on the books, right? (The sponsor of the law that passed in my home state of Illinois was my own state Senator, Ed Maloney.) And then we can mock states like Connecticut, where such a bill has failed multiple times, and call them referee-and-coach shit-beater-outer lovers.

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In the posher realms of Connecticut, these shirts are called “ref beaters.”

In Rhode Island, it’s forming a state committee to hash out youth sports disputes — including fines for parties deemed to be the evil side. From The Associated Press:

Soccer dads and hockey moms beware: Lose your cool at your kids’ games and you might have to pay.

A bill pending in Rhode Island would create a seven-member council to settle disputes in youth recreational leagues, with the power to fine parents or others it thinks are in the wrong. Backers say it would create a more systematic way for resolving sports fights that sometime result in children or parents arbitrarily being removed from organized leagues.

While some other state and town governments have tried to enforce good sportsmanship, national experts say no state has ever considered intervening so deeply in sideline squabbles. …

Jeff Southworth, 48, said more regulation is needed to hold league officials accountable. He called Pawtucket police more than three years ago after he said his daughter’s soccer coach showed up angry and unwelcome at his family’s home. The two clashed over league matters, he said, including whether Southworth could videotape soccer games.

Southworth’s daughter quit the team and needed counseling, he said. The family tried, but was unable to get, local or state soccer officials or the city government to intervene. …

Sen. John Tassoni Jr., a Democrat who works for a politically influential labor union and the bill’s sponsor, said he may still revise the bill to give the council the power to compel witnesses to testify. Identical legislation has been filed by Democratic Rep. Timothy Williamson, the senior deputy majority leader in the House.

Tassoni wrote the legislation after hearing from parents, including the mother of a young girl cut from a football cheerleading squad because her mother argued with a coach.

“The board of directors said, ‘You’re out. Take your kid and leave,'” Tassoni said. “Who loses? The child loses because they can’t play sports with their friends.” …

No surprise, league officials hate this bill. Perhaps because it’s being pushed by the same asshole parents that make their lives hell to begin with. This bill, by the way, establishes no parameters for the threshhold for complaints to be heard. Whether they’re right or wrong, there’s nothing youth sports volunteers will like more than being dragged before a state committee to explain why Timmy isn’t getting enough playing time.

Finally, in Maryland, it’s making sure youth (and adult) sports officials aren’t covered by the state’s unemployment insurance law. The impetus was when a recently laid-off worker/active umpire listed Howard County Officials Inc. on his unemployment form, which led the state’s department of labor to demand $15,700 in payment from the group for past unpaid unemployment insurance. From The View Newspapers:

[Bill sponsor Allan] Kittleman [a Republican from West Friendship] said the state’s new interpretation of referees could have far-reaching implications, forcing officiating organizations across Maryland to pay thousands of dollars in taxes previously not required or risk closing.

The state’s Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation opposes Kittleman’s bill, saying his legislation would create a “loophole” that could have unintended consequences. “… Such carve-outs can unintentionally leave categories or workers without the ability to collect unemployment benefits, a critical social safety net,” the agency argued in testimony submitted to the Finance Committee.

Agency spokeswoman Dori Berman said the state routinely opposes exemptions to the unemployment insurance law, though committee members said “paperboys” have already been exempted.

Even if Kittleman’s bill were to pass, it would likely not save the group, which has about 40 umpires working more than 3,000 games a year, because of the $15,700 bill it’s facing, the umpires said.

At [a] hearing, Thomas Perez, secretary of the state Labor Department, said he hoped to meet with Kittleman and find a “common-sense” solution to the officials’ troubles, although he would have to study it more before saying what that solution might be.

“If we had some time to craft something that made legal sense and common sense, we’re more than willing to do that,” Perez said, adding that he once spent summers umpiring baseball games. “There are a number of layers of review that could very well result in a different determination.”

So far, there are no reports of any meeting between Howard County Officials and the labor department. And the bill hasn’t moved anywhere since the Feb. 17 hearing. That means there’s only one thing the aggrieved organization and its officials can do — complain about the jagoff who blew their cover.