Sunday, June 22, 2008

T-Ball: Parents' Meeting (otherwise known as Sportsmanship 101)

Callan started T-ball last week, which meant I had to attend a 45-minute parent meeting with the director of youth sports at the Athens Community Center. Since this was the first of what will surely be many "parent meetings" for our two boys, I wasn't really sure what to expect. I have a vague memory of attending a parent meeting with my mom for the basketball team I played on when I was eleven, but I don't remember much besides a lot of paperwork, a lot o talking, and a lot of B-O-R-I-N-G! (Did you notice the existential "Yikes!" moment that just occurred--namely the realization that I am attending parent meetings as a parent just like my mother did for me and that means I'm really getting old).

What I got last week at that parent meeting, in addition to an explanation of the schedule, an introduction to the coaching staff, and no less than three reminders to not get my child's ears pierced until after the season is over, was a twenty-minute lecture on sideline rage. I am now informed and accountable. So, if at some point during this season I lose my cool during a game and punch the umpire (who happens to be a 17-year-old girl), or throw a cooler at another dad, or scream, holler, shout, boo, grunt, or otherwise make a fool of myself, I will be asked to leave and never come back, my son may be asked not to participate, and I could face criminal charges. Of course everyone in the room was all chuckles and self-righteous "I would never do that" rolling-of-eyes, but the truth is that people do! Every year, according to the director, some dad is asked to leave for yelling too much. We're talking about 4-6 year old level t-ball here. There are not outs, everybody plays, everybody bats, and they don't even keep score. I was glad for the information, but felt like the forty-five minute meeting could have been handled in an email. But that's the thing--emails don't get read, letters get ignored, and meetings get skipped (there were maybe twenty parents in attendance of the 208 attached to the league). I felt sorry for the director, who's voice during the entire meeting sounded somewhat like the voice of a frustrated dog trainer--I got the impression that he knew his message wasn't really going to get to the people who needed to hear it.

After the meeting I thanked him for the information and said something about being surprised about the problems with sideline rage. "You'd be surprised," he said. "I could write a book with everything I've seen in this town." The sad thing is, I don't think he's exaggerating.

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