Go ahead, admit it. The title sort of got you wondering what these three things have in common, right? The short answer is, "Nothing." It will make for a good story, though, I promise. First up? Youth sports and the wonderful adults who coach, manage, and referee these activities. Let me qualify this, though - I am not going to take issue with the majority of these good people that, as far as I know, volunteer their time. With that said, I will take issue with a select few. I remember, when we were kids, riding our bike to baseball practices during the summer at Good's Field in my hometwon. We played in what was called the "Morning League," a bunch of 8- and 9-year old kids that showed up and, along with a 'Coach' that served both teams, learned to play the game. We were taught the basics - how to field the ball in both the infield and outfield, how to pitch, how to catch, when and how to run the bases. Yes, we had teams and we played games, however the main goal of this league was to teach. When we turned 10, we moved up a division and played for teams sponsored by local businesses. The coaches 'drafted' us on these teams based on seeing us play in the Morning League and this league, too, taught us more about the game. I remember playing our games in the evening and, though it was competitive, we had a good time. Our parents, for some reason, never felt the need to impose their unrealized personal accomplishments on us. Most didn't, anyway. I'm sure there were a few, but for the most part we went to the field, played the game, and enjoyed a flavored snowcone on our way home (walking) as we critiqued the poor play of one of us after another. It was a blast and I'd give anything to be back there for one week. (If you build it, they will...) Yeah, whatever, Costner. Anyway, my point is this - we didn't pay $200.00 for a bat or $150.00 for a glove...and neither did our parents. We had good gloves and bats but it wasn't a contest to see who could afford the best equipment. We learned to play the game and the coaches did just that - they coached. It wasn't solely about winning. We wanted to win, we tried hard to win, but it wasn't 'Win at all costs'. We all played and, quite honestly, it was usually the same amount of time during the game. I have to mention, too, that NONE of us got trophies merely for showing up. It's what made us try harder. If I didn't get a trophy, I'd try harder - it's something I've taught my kids to this day and something I believe in. To award trophies for non-performance is setting a child up for disappointment later in life. Period. Showed up for work? Great - here's the same raise we gave to Stan...even though Stan worked 60 hours a week and won the Stevens Account. Yep...because that't the way life works, right?
The other issue, besides overzealous coaches, is parents that don't or won't admit their child isn't the next Brooks Robinson (Google it) or Cal Ripken, Jr. I saw, just this morning, that a mother in NY was arrested for stalking a coach and threatening his family because her son didn't make the team. I'm not talking, "I'm going to spill a drink on your wife and trip your kid," threats, either. Demented, dark-soul, "I'm-probably-a-slasher-and-cut-myself-already," kind of threats. It's happening far too frequently lately and, quite honestly, needs to stop. These kids should not be allowed to play if their parents do something that asinine.
On another note, Joe Paterno has (finally) committed an NCAA Rules Violation. Mark it, write it down, highlight this day on the "Calendar of Things You Thought You'd Never See." Keep in mind, the Ohio State infraction still isn't a dead issue. Cam newton still puts Auburn in question, and USC has recently vacated their BCS Championship. How could JoePa, of all people, commit a violation? What was it exactly? Did his students commit armed-robbery as happened in Auburn? Did someone on the team receive benefits from an agent? Did Joe give out too many scholarships? No, my friends, Joe commited an NCAA sin - he watched his players. Yep, you got it. Watched his players. During a voluntary workout, Joe happened to be walking across campus and stopped to watch the players. He then, after speaking to no one while on his journey, told an assistant coach that one player in particular looked pretty good. The coach then informed Joe of the violation. Earth-shaking and unforgiveable, right? How could an 84-year old coach be so thoughtless? Hey...at 84, I hope I remember to go to the bathroom in time. Joe, I've already forgiven you...and we'll get our personal retribution in September in Happy Valley. By the way, anyone have tickets?
Lastly, a brief mention of the bank robber that asked for a dollar. One dollar. Handed the teller a note and calmly waited for the police to arrive. "Why," you ask? (go ahead, ask) I'll tell you why - he needed healthcare. Seriously, the former Coca-Cola delivery man-turned truck driver-turned convenience store worker needed health care...and could not get it. He robbed a bank. Sadly, they only called it larceny and his $100,000 bond has been reduced to $2,000. He says he won't pay and, if necessary, will hand them a note asking for more. Either way, it's safe to say there are problems with the system...and now that it's been noted that millions of middle-class people could get free healthcare, you can bet there will be a change. maybe this time someone will read the damn thing before they pass the legislation. And that, America, is tonight's rant. A few winners here, huh? Maybe we should let Joe Paterno kick the hell out of those idiot parents and coaches so they'll need the new healthcare plan. I knew I could tie all this together!
Until next time...........