Monday, August 01, 2005


Two parents discussing sportsmanship

I wrote this many long years ago for my sports column in the Ruston Morning Paper as a satire on the often overzealous attitude displayed by the parents of some young athletes and the overemphasis on winning by certain religious organizations. Since then, the situation appears to have gotten even worse. So much for the power of the press.

Bayou Bill


by Bill Fullerton

"Welcome to parents participation training.” The debonair young man holding the microphone had a big, toothy grin.

"Many of you will be first-time parent participants in this area's various summer youth league competitions. Your appearance here demonstrates how, as concerned parents, you have realized the importance of displaying appropriate conduct while your child is participating as an athlete.

"To start today's session, we'll have an overview of the entire training program. Our first block of instruction will involve the basics of yelling at the umpire. Next will come a quick look at the principle tactics involved in baiting managers. The final segment is devoted to disorderly conduct, with both other parents and officials, during games."

The young man’s smile somehow managed to broaden as he continued. "I know that's a lot to cover, but this is a very important subject. And if you pay attention, we just might have a surprise lecturer come by before the evening is over.

"Now when first beginning to yell at umpires, it's best to limit your attacks, we prefer to call them, interactions, to total strangers. However, as your expertise grows, you'll discover being rude and abusive becoming easier and easier, even when the ump happens to be some life-long acquaintances."

At this point a look of seriousness passed over the man's face. "Remember, it's your duty as parents to serve as role models for your children. You must show them the importance of authority and how to give it proper respect. If you must question a friend’s honesty or intelligence to accomplish this goal, well, that's just the breaks.

"Let's move on to the subject of manager harassment. Of course anyone can verbally degrade and vilify the opposing team's manager. What takes special talent is intimidating your child's manager."

With a tolerant look, the dapper young man let the buzz in the audience die down before continuing. "If this were a perfect world, perhaps there would be no need to straighten out managers. But, sad to say, we do not live in a perfect world. Almost inevitably, your child's manager will either fail to give your young star enough playing time, or else play him in the wrong position."

Waving his hand in response to several parents who had raised their hands, he continued. "Now I know what you're thinking. What if my child's the team's pitcher?”

The speaker nodded his understanding. “It is not impossible for a manager to recognize your child's greatness and play him in the proper position and for an appropriate amount of time, like every minute of the game. However, even these managers are prone to call for the wrong pitch or signal some totally inane play. In that case, it becomes your job as responsible parents to loudly remind the manager of his shortcomings. As with the abuse of umpires, this public humiliation of managers will demonstrate to your child the importance of authority and the proper respect it should be shown."

The young man picked up an empty bottle and held it high. "This object is one of the primary working tools of the disorderly parent and, as we all know, being an effective disorderly parent is often an essential element in your young player's chances for victory. After all, there are likely to be other parents in the stands who will also be threatening the ump and vilifying the managers.

"It will be up to you to see that your child's team, and its followers, presents a truly hostile and aggressive demeanor. If the other team ever seems to be gaining the upper hand, it will become your duty to negate, if not terminate, the effectiveness of their parents. Several tactics can be used to accomplish this objective. One is physical threats and intimidation. By the way, this is most effective at your home field."

Just then the crowd stirred as a distinguished looking older gentleman walked on stage. There was a note of excitement in the younger man's voice. "Ladies and gentleman, this is the special surprise I mentioned earlier. The Right Rev. Doctor Dorite from Mighty Big Church has stopped by to make a few choice remarks.”

Beaming, the Right Rev. Doctor took the microphone. "Thank you Eddie, you're doing a fine job." He turned to the crowd and beamed. "And you're a fine group. I just know you'll make excellent parent participants.

"I'd like to say a few words to those of you with children playing in church leagues. Don't think for a second that Eddie's advice doesn't apply to church league play. Like many other churches, we at Mighty Big Church see it as part of our mission to field winning teams.

"To accomplish this goal, we can always use the help of you parent's. That doesn't mean we're not doing everything possible to win. For instance, like other churches, we occasionally recruit ringers who have seldom, if ever, attended worship services in our tabernacle."

With a confidential smile, the Right Rev. Doctor proceeded. "We've even formed our own league, the Behemoth Churches Alliance, designed to exclude those little churches which might happen to have winning teams. Of course we always load up our best players on one or two teams. This does tend to keep the less gifted children from getting much playing time, but sitting on the bench teaches them patience.

"All this is dedicated to one objective, beating the stuffing out of those lost souls at all the lesser houses of worship, thereby demonstrating our physical, and spiritual, superiority."

Spreading his arms wide, he concluded, "So remember everything Eddie has taught you, and go out there determined to win, win, win, at any cost! Amen and Halleluiah.”

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Anonymous Chris said...

Nice one Bill, I'm really going to have to show this one to the hubby. He'll get a real kick out of it.


7:03 AM  
Anonymous Kimberly (yasjay) said...

Really like the story, Bill. We have yet to encounter any parent have attended such a course, but I know we will once our kids get older and the 'fun of the game' attitude is replaced by 'I-grooming-my-kid-for-the-NBA/NFL/MLB-and-that-fat-contract'. Great piece.


8:42 AM  
Anonymous susie (boo) said...

Amen and Halleluiah!

3:49 AM  
Anonymous Marti said...

Great story!

Sorry for not being around much, my husband had a stroke and I've been busy taking care of him. Hope you have a wonderful day!

9:57 AM  

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