Your Kid’s Not Going Pro

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Snoop Dogg expands football league, his coolness to Chicago

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Snoop Dogg — is there nothing he can do wrong? (Or at least not get away with?)

Cal Ripken Jr. sold his name to an existing baseball league and has done plenty to promote it, but the rapper-Katy Perry sidekick has built a successful youth football league from the ground up, and has done so in the inner city, where most leagues usually go to die.

Now Chicago kids are going to learn what it’s like to play in a Snooper Bowl. He came to Chicago on July 23 for a football clinic as a precursor to expanding his Snoop Youth Football League to the city. The low-cost league will be geared toward kids in public housing in a city where the violent crime rate is double that of New York or the birthplace of the Snoop league, Los Angeles. From NBC Chicago:

“I’m bringing football out here so they can take their energy, their anger and their attitude and put it in the right source of environment, which is the football field,” he said. …

Snoop Dogg, a former high school quarterback, started the program in 2005 with a $1 million investment. He’s coached his son’s youth and high school football teams.

The league, which will offer a lower cost to participate, is still looking for funding.  But the rapper said recent violence in the city shows how much Chicago kids need alternatives like his league.

“I just feel like Chicago needs me right now.  And I need Chicago,” he said.

In an interview with Time Out Chicago, Snoop Dogg said he started an assistant coach for his son, became his head coach, and decided to start his own league because he didn’t like all he saw with organized football, particularly expenses that froze out those from poorer neighborhoods. He also said a league like his might have prevented him from his long path of trouble, though on the other hand without it he wouldn’t have had the career and the money to fund a league keeping other kids out of trouble.

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Snoop Youth Football teaches kids to go 1-8-7 on tha undercover cop only in their minds. However, a safety can go 1-8-7 on a receiver across the middle. (NSFW lyrics)

Snoop Dogg just received a VH1 Do Something award for his football league. He also should receive some sort of award for trying to decrease football head injuries by getting his kids state-of-the-art helmets and training them on avoiding head injuries, which is a hell of a lot more than just about anyone else inside the sport is doing. So if the money he gets for slumming on “California Gurls” is going toward this, then who’s to care if he hooks up with Ke$ha or Miley Cyrus later? If it’s Snoop, it must be worthwhile.

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Written by rkcookjr

July 24, 2010 at 12:26 am

Youth baseball coach drowns trying to rescue son, teammates

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By all accounts, Darin McGahey of McDonough, Ga., was the kind of baseball coach you wanted for your child — knowledgeable, patient, easygoing and selfless. Tragically, one last act of selflessness led to his death.

McGahey drowned July 7 off Navarre Beach, Fla., while trying to save his 11-year-old son and three of his other Locust Grove Razorback charges from drowning themselves. His death came on the second day of the July 6-11 USSSA baseball AA-level (rec league, restricted rosters or drafted players) World Series in Pace, Fla.

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

On [July 13], members of the [11]-and-under Locust Grove Razorbacks, dressed in uniform, will attend the McDonough man’s funeral in the town where he lived. McGahey was their assistant coach. …

McGahey had jumped in with the boys flailing away in water over their heads. One of them was his son, Noah, 11, one of the team’s best players. The rescue became more difficult the farther the older McGahey went out. …

Two other dads found Darin McGahey, pulled him to the beach barely conscious and frantically administered CPR. Other parents did their best to shield Noah McGahey and half-brother, Austin, 15, who had tagged along on the Florida road trip, from the horror. …

Family members remained in a state of shock, over how something so well intentioned as a baseball trip could turn out so numbing. McGahey left behind his wife of 12 years, Ann Hightower, and three sons, including Dustin McGahey, 17.

“It hasn’t hit them yet,” said Jeff McGahey, 38, the man’s brother.

The children who McGahey tried to save are all right. They found shelter on a  sand bar.

Jennifer Capriati: A cautionary tale

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Mug shot of Jennifer Capriati.

Image via Wikipedia

Sometimes, a parent’s goal is not just that his or her child go pro. It’s that the child’s accomplishment — whether it’s sports or something else that can draw a high profile (I’m looking at you, Sunderland family) — is done at the youngest possible age.

As we know from the tragedy’s of child sitcom stars, this early success often comes at a severe personal price. And Jennifer Capriati — whose  “accidental” overdose of prescription medication was first reported June 27 by TMZ — is still paying it.

Jennifer Capriati made waves in 1990 when she became a 13-year-old tennis pro, young even by the standards of women’s tennis, where then — as now — pushy-to-the-point-of-abusive parents are often key to a player’s development. (In Jennifer’s case, Stefano Capriati was the horror dad.)

Alas,  Capriati, after an initial wave of success that included an Olympic gold medal in 1992, by 17 had been busted for shoplifting and marijuana possession as she became the tragic early sports burnout to top all tragic early burnouts. Her mugshot (at left) was a cautionary tale all by itself. Was she rebelling against tennis? Her father? At that point, that Capriati would live was more of a concern than whether she played tennis. (The U.S. Tennis Association even passed a “Capriati rule” in 1994 so no more 13-year-olds could play and follow do Capriati’s dark path.)

But Capriati came back, cleaning herself up and winning two Grand Slams in 2001 — the Australian and the French. Was it a love of tennis that propelled her? Or was it that her identity didn’t allow her to do anything else? A few years later, a shoulder injury forced Capriati to retire — and face problems with depression and suicidal thoughts. This is from a 2007 New York Daily News profile of Capriati:

“When I stopped playing, that’s when all this came crumbling down,” Capriati says. “If I don’t have (tennis), who am I? What am I? I was just alive because of this. I’ve had to ask, ‘Well, who is Jennifer? What if this is gone now?’ I can’t live off of this the rest of my life.” …

“When someone that young has such an incredible level of talent and promise, and the whole world identifies them with it, it can short-circuit the natural process of identity formation,” says Dr. Fred Wertz, chairman of Fordham’s psychology department. The result is that you see yourself in one way, doing one thing. Other options don’t even compute.

Despite the Capriati family’s insistence that her prescription drug overdose was accidental, many were freely speculating, based on Capriati’s past, that maybe it wasn’t so accidental.

I’m not a psychologist or a psychiatrist, so I don’t know how many of Capriati’s problems were due to her tennis-stunted upbringing, and how many are due to clinical depression that might have manifested itself even if she had a “normal” childhood and had grown up to become an accountant.

Every athlete, particularly an elite athlete, struggles with what to do after the fame and the games are gone. But it’s particularly sad to see someone who struggled so much to keep from burning out at 17, and now looks to be in serious crisis at the mere age of 34.

The lesson for parents is not necessarily in what happens if your child is an early pro achiever. Most of us will never know that. However, there is a lesson is what happens if your child specializes early, and mentally or physically burns out by, say, high school. How will you handle that? How will your child handle that? Do you and your child have enough perspective on sports to be prepared for the day a knee injury or mental struggles means a whole way of life has come to an end?

It's OK to be a quitter

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It’s usually treated as some sort of national tragedy that, depending on what statistics are pulled out of what ass, anywhere from 70-80 percent of children in organized sports quit by the time they’re 13.

If you believe that all those quitting kids are a result of them being drummed out of sports they love because of too much organization and too many yelling coaches, then, yes, that’s a problem. However, I’m not sure that — if I may reach into my own ass to pull out some statistics — that 85 percent of those children leaving sports are doing so because they’ve found something else (hopefully productive) they’d rather do.

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“No mas.”

As a coach and a parent, I’m a big believer that a child, even in the face of a lousy coach and a poorly run program, doesn’t quit a sport he or she truly loves. Also, I believe that part of childhood is flitting about from activity to activity, taking what my wife cheekily calls a logical path of self-discovery (a term she coined for my peripatetic early employment career) to determine one’s passions. So, quitting teams becomes a fairly frequent occurrence.

That’s the mindset I brought while reading this Los Angeles Times article in which a mother wrings her hands over the ass-pullingly high quit rate as her 8-year-old son tells her he wants to quit football in an article titled, “When is it OK to let kids be quitters?”

The issue of kids quitting — music lessons, summer camp, sports — has long been tough on parents.

My own quitting dilemma began the way many parent-child negotiations do: with begging. My son Bob had been pleading with me for months for permission to play tackle football. He offered to take out the trash. Clean his room. He even promised to be nice to his sister. Finally, when his teacher told me that Bob had taught his classmates how to go out for passes, I caved. …

But the intensity of the conditioning was unlike anything Bob had experienced. The boys did up-downs until their faces turned purple. They were forced to run laps holding hands as a punishment. While there was an emphasis on teamwork — in theory, football is supposed to be the ultimate team sport — there was a profound absence of positive reinforcement.

So after 13 weeks, and just before the season ended, my son did what his gut told him to do: He quit.

“It’s not fun,” he said wearily. “And I’m tired of the coaches making me feel badly about myself.”

It was a difficult moment. I didn’t approve of one coach’s treatment of the boys, but was it really OK to quit? Would it make Bob a quitter? How does a parent know when it’s time to quit or when it’s time to insist that children stick to what they start?

My only ironclad rule, for my own kids, in quitting is this: Once you commit, you’re in until the season or activity is over. It’s fair to no one if a child quits in the middle of something. It also doesn’t teach your child anything about sticking out a promise, one made implicitly to you as parents, to coaches and to teammates.

At the end of the season, it’s a different story. My 12-year-old, my eldest, has been his three siblings’ sport and activity canary in the coalmine, trying out soccer, baseball, wrestling, basketball, volleyball and hockey, as well as theater, band, robotics, battle-of-the-books team, so with him in particular we’ve had a lot of conversations about quitting sports that ended with my son, indeed, quitting sports.

As a coach, I’ve dealt with players who clearly want no part of playing a sport, on a team, under any circumstance. Instead of the parents trying to convince their kids to stick with it, they would be better served figuring out another activity. It happens. My 12-year-old son, who quit baseball at 9 because, I thought, of a bad experience with a coach and teammates, will not play organized baseball, even intramural wiffle ball, again under any circumstances. He was never interested in playing catch, unlike his siblings, so it was clear he was wired not to care about baseball.

It also happens that sometimes there is a mismatch between the kid and the organization in question, that the child likes a sport, but not how it’s done in a certain league. The L.A. Times writer found a flag football league for her son that was much less intense, and he’s enjoying the game again. If you’re concerned that your child is quitting because of a bad experience, finding another league — if possible — might work, at least to find out for sure if your child just doesn’t like a sport after all.

So before you, as a parent, beg your kid to keep playing, ask yourself whether the child actually enjoys the sports, and the organized nature of it, or whether it’s time to bag it. Remember, you’ve probably watched your child play, so you have a sense of whether this is working out. If a sport doesn’t work out, there are a lot of activities out there for kids. A big reason for that stat on 13-year-olds quitting is not just because they’re weeded out along the way by zealous coaches and the youth sports-industrial complex. Children also weed themselves out in favor of activities they feel passionate about.

Quitting a sport doesn’t make your kid a quitter. It makes your kid a kid.

Written by rkcookjr

June 12, 2010 at 12:41 am

Is youth sports your God?

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Wyman Richardson, a Baptist minister in Georgia, is asking some questions of his fellow Christians so they themselves can discover what they value more: their faith or sports.

The objection doesn’t seem to be against sports, per se. Richardson prefaced his questions with this statement: “Athletics are good, build character, and help children grow. If our kids commit to a team, they should be taught to stand by their commitments. I played sports in school (albeit, poorly!), and am glad I did. My daughter plays, and I’m glad she does.”

However, Richardson and the late Pope, my old Catholic priest and my current United Church of Christ pastor have the same concern, as spelled out by the Georgia Baptist: “[M]y point is simply that there is now an observable, verifiable shift in priorities among Christian parents that is overall damaging to our kids, to the body of Christ, to our corporate and individual witnesses, and to our and our children’s spiritual development.”

As you might have guessed by the foreshadowing in the previous paragraph, Richardson is hardly the first Sunday-oriented religious leader to notice that the pews got a little emptier whenever youth sports kicked into higher gear. Of course, Christianity for years had the advantage, unlike other faiths, of blue laws to mandate there was nothing to do on Sunday but go to worship, so until recently it hasn’t had to deal with the competition.

Pope John Paul II, so much of an athlete that he’s under consideration to be the Catholics’ patron saint of sports, in 2004 felt the need to remind his flock that Sunday was God’s day, not just another day for sports and entertainment (youth and otherwise). Inspired by that message, the priest at the Catholic church affiliated with my basketball league stopped us from having games on Sunday, even though attendance by men, oh, quadrupled because they would show up with their hoopin’ shoes for a little pregame Mass, when otherwise they would have not shown.

My own church’s pastor has led movements to keep Sunday event-free, and she isn’t Baptist or Catholic or Dutch Reformed (the faith of one of my 10-year-old daughter’s softball teammates, who never plays on Sunday). She’s with the United Church of Christ, where they’ve let gays be pastors since 1972.

Of course, Christianity for years had the advantage, unlike other faiths, of blue laws to mandate there was nothing to do on Sunday but go to worship, so until recently it hasn’t had to deal with the competition.

The demands of travel sports, the fear that missing a practice could mean the end of the college scholarship dream, or the simple joys your child has in playing a sport — Richardson gets that. “My point is not that your child should always choose a church event over an athletic event.” What he’s wondering is, hey, parents, are YOU getting so much of a rush out of your child’s sports that you are unwittingly sending the message to your child that sports is the most important thing, that the sports tail SHOULD be wagging the family dog? The questions Richardson asks demand soul-searching for your answers, no matter whether you’re Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Baha’i or Richard Dawkins.

Among Richardson’s questions:

What percentage of your child’s ballgames do you attend?  What percentage of church services do you attend with your child?  Which is higher?  Why? …

For what reasons would you allow your child to miss practice?  For what reasons would you allow your child to miss church?  When you compare those reasons, how are they alike or different? …

How excited are you about seeing your child excel in athletics?  How excited are you about seeing your child excel in Christlikeness?…

Which is a more exciting thought to you:  your child receiving an MVP award for his team or your child leading a friend to faith in Christ?

How excited do you get about the big game?  How excited do you get about corporate worship?

If your child routinely asked to stay home from practice, would you speak with him/her about “commitment”?  If your child routinely asked to stay home from church, would you speak with him/her about “commitment”?

There is an easy answer to a lot of these questions: if you miss church, there’s always next week for the rest of your life. If your child misses sports, that narrows an already small window of opportunity. But is that really the right reason?

Richardson’s questions, even if you’re comparing, say, music with school rather than sports with church, do raise a little spiritual food for thought about how healthy it is for you and your family to tie your schedules to your child’s pursuits. Particularly if you have, even in the back of your mind, the thought that this is all going to lead to that magic scholarship or pro career, despite the overwhelming odds otherwise.

After all, it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than your child to go pro.

Will Arizona kill school sports — and itself?

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Arizona’s developing quite a reputation for being a state by and for scaredy-cat old white people feeling the hot breath of becoming the minority (which the Census Bureau expects will happen by 2015). The infamous SB1070, another law banning the teaching of ethnic studies, and  a bill coming through that would make schools count illegals and tally up their “cost” — I guess that’s what happens when a real estate market collapses, and white people can no longer sell their houses to flee, um, whatever they call those who are not white people.

It didn’t take a Sarah Palin-assailed girls high school basketball boycott for the state to set up a “hey-weren’t-not-so-bad-commission” to burnish its image as something more than Crazy Coot Cracker Central. It took multiple boycotts by multiple organizations.

Even with all that, the worst hit to Arizona’s image may be yet to come. That will happen if the state’s voters on May 18 turn down Proposition 100, which adds another percentage point to the Arizona sales tax, with most of the money going to schools, as well as health care, and police and fire services. It won’t be interpreted nationwide as an attack on illegal immigrants only. It’ll be interpreted a sign Arizona is closing up shop to pretty much everybody except scared old white people — and even they’re going to be hit if the day comes that budget cuts make an ambulance a lot slower in coming.

How do I know this? Because the of the list of supporters. Among them: pretty much every state and local division of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Arizona Education Association, the Professional Fire Fighters Association, the Gila River Indian Community, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, the Arizona Medical Association, US Airways and the Arizona Cardinals. Basically, a mishmosh of large and powerful and not-so-large and not-so-powerful that rarely stand on the same side of the same issue. Oh, and also the majority of Arizona state House and Senate, and Gov. Jan Brewer, who had to approve of the ballot measure.

Their fear is this: if Prop 100 — which would raise taxes only through 2013, when the provision sunsets — doesn’t pass, the state immediately cuts $900 million from a state budget already collapsing from a housing and tourism bust, including $450 million in cuts from education. This isn’t a threat or a hypothetical. The Arizona state legislature already has a contingency budget passed in case the tax increase is rejected. (The Cardinals also might feel a little guilty for youth sports funding being slashed because tax revenue generated around its new stadium wasn’t up to par.)

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And more than the budget cut is the signal the rejection sends: that the old white people of Arizona are dying, and they’re taking the state with them. Even for business types who get a cold sweat at every mention of a tax, such a loud and public signal of disinvestment in education, public safety and health (the beneficiaries of the tax increase) would let the world know Arizona isn’t willing to step up to invest in its future. I know every state is cutting, and the backers know every state is cutting. But they also know that at least the signal needs to be sent that they feel a little bad about it.

So what does this have to do with youth sports? Plenty. Many Arizona schools already have certain sports, particularly nonrevenue sports and programs for those who are not on the high school varsity — at the ready to get chopped by their budgetary guillotines. From MaxPreps.com:

“If it fails, the announcement has come from our district office that the possibility of eliminating athletics across the board in our district is real,” said Herman House, director of interscholatics for the Tucson Unified School District. House doesn’t think it will come to that. He believes revenue-producing varsity sports such as football, basketball, baseball and softball will survive, but the reality is, if Prop. 100 fails, Tucson will have to shave about $45 million from its annual budget.

“Athletic directors are a resilient bunch and we always seem to find a way,” said Mesa district athletic director Steve Hogen, whose district is the largest in the state. “At the same time, there are fiscal realities you can’t ignore. Sometimes, that has bad consequences for the kids.”

Hogen said Mesa was already discussing a pay-for-play fee for all student-athletes. But if Prop. 100 does not pass, that fee will likely rise by 50 percent, putting a hardship on a district with many lower-income families. House said if Proposition 100 fails, his district is also considering restrictions on travel and a reliance upon fundraisers to pay coaches’ salaries and keep sports self-sufficient.

Not to mention, a Prop 100 passage might speed up or intensify a plan by Arizona’s state high school sports authority to cut athletic divisions and tournaments, and set limits on travel, all in the name of saving money.

If Arizona wants a preview of how this would work, it can look at New Jersey, where school districts across the state are slashing sports — and, of course, lots of other, more curricular parts of education — when locals rejected higher school taxes on top of state budget cuts. Or just about anywhere else nationwide, really. Having your funding tied in a big way to property taxes and state government receipts is great when housing prices are flying upward, not so when they’re crashing. Just go to Google News and search “school sports budget cuts,” and you’ll get the feeling in many places this recession means the end of days for school-sponsored sports.

Or look at the past coverage of tax rejections at the Grove City Schools in Ohio, which became national news precisely because the district eliminated sports entirely as a result — but were brought back when voters finally passed a hike. Maybe you don’t notice when the math department cuts a teacher, but everyone notices when the football team isn’t playing on Fridays.

So why does Arizona get the pressure of having its image tarnished by rejecting an education tax hike? Well, there’s the matter of all the other legislative nuttiness in the state. But there’s also the matter of Arizona’s taxes being relatively low to start with. The sales tax hike would go to 6.6 percent. Not bad at all, especially to someone such as myself in Chicago, where the sales tax can go more than 11 percent. That’s not to say Arizonans deserve to get soaked as much as I do. It’s more like the feeling I have when I would hear my parents in Carmel, Ind., carp about their property taxes, and I’d find out they were paying about one-quarter as much for a house that wasn’t worth that much less than mine. It’s just hard to work up sympathy. And least New Jersey’s rejections were understandable, with the state’s extremely-high-in-the-nation property taxes.

However, the main issue is that Arizona’s populace knows exactly what it will get if the tax doesn’t pass. The gun is loaded and at your head — and yet you might still decide to pull the trigger.

If most polls are to believed, about half of the state’s voters are suicidal, with passage of Prop 100 as a tossup. While the supporters are well-funded, the opponents have some politicians on their side, as well as the always more popular stance of not raising taxes.

Maybe what supporters need more than money is 7-year-old Logan Wade. He is the young fan Glendale (Ariz.) City Council member Phil Lieberman credits with convincing him to join the majority vote May 11 for a $25 million guarantee for the NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes, which play in a taxpayer-funded arena in a taxpayer-financed entertainment district that threatens to go down the tubes if the Coyotes, as is very possible, move back to their ancestral of Winnipeg. This vote, which would come if the NHL-owned, bankrupt team can’t find a buyer, comes despite the city budget deficit of $15 million. But how can you turn down a little kid? From the Arizona Republic:

Councilman Phil Lieberman, who had asked tough questions of staffers, said he was persuaded by Logan Wade, a 7-year-old fan.

“‘Will you vote for this resolution tonight?'” Lieberman said the Glendale boy asked.

“I can’t turn him down,” the councilman added.

What Prop 100 supporters should do is spend their money on jetting Logan Wade around the state on the May 18 election day, and have him wear a jersey for a local high school, asking voters, “Will you vote for Prop 100 today?” Even scared old white people can’t turn him down!

Prayer and sports: An uncomfortable pairing of Biblical proportions

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On the National Day of Prayer, let me state that I’m no fan of mixing sports and religion.

I don’t like Bible verses on eyeblack, Bible verses on banners, prayers over the loudspeaker, and prayers led by the coach in an optional ceremony that, really, you aren’t compelled to take part in, unless you want your ass nailed to bench like Jesus’ wrists. I was thrilled when the U.S. Supreme Court, no bastion of atheists, in 2009 refused to hear the appeal of a New Jersey high school football coach fighting his public school district so he could lead team prayers, especially because the court refused to swallow the glop served by friends of the court such as the American College Football Association:

There is a reason why persons are not typically moved to pray before playing monopoly, or bridge, or a round of golf with friends, but frequently are moved to pray immediately prior to or after playing a high school or college football game. It’s not just the violent nature of the sport and the ever-present possibility of serious and perhaps life-altering injury; it’s also the sense that these games are important signposts marking the road to becoming an adult.

I also will cheer when the rulings of that Supreme Court will be used to beat down a pandering bill passed in April in the Florida House that would would “bar schools from infringing on the First Amendment freedoms of teachers, staff or students unless they sign a written waiver of those rights,” basically a way to get around the ACLU’s victory over the Santa Rosa County (Fla.) School Board allowing its Christian fascists to run wild, practically requiring preaching at the public school.

For the record, technically speaking, I am Christian, having been baptized Catholic, confirmed Episcopalian, married Catholic, baptized my four kids Catholic, then jumped to the United Church of Christ. The latter denomination holds great appeal because I think it does what any religion can do best: evangelize not by loudly proclaiming how Godly you are, or how unGodly someone is, or how much you love Jesus you just can’t help but speak in tongues during a timeout in your high school basketball game. It emphasizes showing your spirit through, basically, being a good person and doing good things, and letting people catch on that maybe your faith has something to do with that.

No denomination or faith has a monopoly on that, of course. But that explains my mistrust of people and institutions that feel they must bash you over the head with their religion, demanding your participation and conversion lest ye be called a savia hata.

However, I (hopefully) am open-minded enough to realize that even when people are bringing forced prayer into places I don’t think it should go, sometimes the people who oppose them can be even bigger jackholes.

Case in point: a dispute over mixing prayer and youth baseball in Medford, Ore., where apparently it’s fairly common for coaches to end a Little League practice or game with a few words for The Man Upstairs. Given the Little League pledge — “I trust in God. I love my country and will respect its laws. I will play fair and strive to win. But win or lose, I will always do my best.” — it doesn’t seem outside the realm of possibility for prayer to be involved.

As manager, I wouldn’t do it for my 7-year-old’s baseball team, not just because we’re not associated with Little League, and not just because we have at least one Muslim on the team, and not just because of my own prickly feelings about prayer and sport. It’s also because 6- and 7-year-old boys have about a 3-second attention span, so I would get only as far as “Oh God…” before someone told a fart joke.

Anyway, a Medford National Little League assistant coach, Mike E. Miles, didn’t cotton to the Jesusness of his manager Chris Palmer, who started with asking his players to take a knee after practice, then escalated from there. Miles told the Medford Mail Tribune that Palmer asked if anyone objected. But showing the youth sports political skill that got him on the league’s board, Miles told the paper, “As a parent and assistant coach, what do you say? ‘No, we don’t like Jesus or God’?” Miles’ antenna were particularly up because his daughter is on the baseball team — the only girl on the team.

As anyone associated with youth sports knows, reasonable people did not meet to discuss their differences to come to a mutually agreeable conclusion. Instead, Miles went to the board and called for Palmer to be fired. Instead, on May 2, a few days after his complaint, Miles was booted off the board, and he took his daughter off the team.

The board was full of Jesus people ready to smack down someone who wouldn’t pray on the field, right? Maybe. But Miles was making his own bed to shit in. From the Medford Mail Tribune:

The prayers continued. Miles remained silent — until Palmer questioned Miles’ integrity for teaching “cat and mouse” base-running techniques. Players are taught to feign injuries and stumble on the base paths in order to confuse the opponent — and score runs, Miles said.

“[Palmer] called me deceitful,” Miles said. “These are standard plays. Miles Field was named after my dad (Shorty Miles). He’s saying my father and the great coaches who taught me these plays are unethical. I went ballistic. I admit it.”

Palmer is right. And Miles is right. Palmer shouldn’t lead the team in prayer if everyone isn’t comfortable, and Miles shouldn’t teach 9-year-olds how to get an extra base by pretending to have a sudden knee energy.

If I may give myself permission to offer my own prayer, I pray these men see the error of their ways, and we can get back to sports with metaphysical conflict.

Written by rkcookjr

May 6, 2010 at 6:30 pm