Raising a Teenager Who Plays Sports Has Taught Me This.


I’m a parent.Title IX.

I have a daughter who plays sports.

This has taught me many things.

Young ladies who play sports in 2014 are experiencing things that just weren’t there 10, 20, 50 years ago.

My kid and millions of others are so lucky to have these opportunities.

While Title IX isn’t perfect, I’m glad my daughter  was born after it was put in place instead of before.

Crazed parents can now obsess over their daughter’s future college athletic career instead of just being obessed with their son’s alleged college athletic career.

I call this progress.

Also, it’s interesting to watch people coach their own children.  In most cases this shouldn’t be allowed.

Of all the things our government sticks their nose into, you would think addressing parents living out their dreams through their children would be on top of the list.

Coaching your own children should be outlawed.  And immediately.

The amount of money spent on youth sports could probably also be better spent.

Like on curing diseases.  Uprgrading bridges,  Or maybe on math tutors.  Possibly getting third world countries internet.

But who am I to judge.

Even with all of these issues, I think the greatest thing I’ve learned about kids playing sports is without a doubt…

… It’s hard watching your child fail.

Success is SO much fun, but watching them fail is heartbreaking.

Necessary.

A fact of life.

The best thing a parent can do for their child.

But harder than you can ever imagine if you haven’t experienced it.

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I’m Here to Promote Failure.


Everyone wants their kid to do well.Failed.

I get it.

This is probably an instinct that goes all the way back to cavemen.  I can just imagine how proud the cave parents must have been when little cavekid, jr. came back from a hunt where he had captured the biggest rabbit.

So proud.

Parents live for their children’s successes.

Now, instead of rabbits, it’s games.  The more the better.

Travel this.  Club that.  All Stars.  Select teams.

The farther away a team is the better it must be.  Bonus points if your child plays out-of-state.

Double-bonus points if they play with older kids.

I think this is great, but we have forgotten half of the process.

Parents should also live for their child’s failures.

This may sound terrible, but it’s true.

Our children have to learn not to touch a hot stove.  Sometimes they learn this lesson best immediately after they touch a hot stove.

There are lessons to be learned in striking out, making an error, fumbling, hitting a ball out-of-bounds, and losing.

Failing has gotten a bad rap.

Our society wants to take it completely out of the equation.  We seem to have a need to protect our kids from the awful feeling of finishing second.

We might do this because we no longer have to protect our children from wild animals or any of the other unspeakable dangers cave people experienced.

We seem to believe if our kids always succeed, they will always succeed.

The truth is, if we want our children to be successful, they have to know how to fail and how to respond to failure.

Everyone is going to get knocked down sooner or later.  My fear is too many of today’s kids won’t know how to get up.

I continually see parents who are willing to do anything to make sure their child doesn’t fail.

They will spend any amount of money.  Put them on any team.  Drive them any distance.

Yell at any adult who doesn’t put their child on a pedestal and give them a trophy.

Make untold sacrifices just so their son or daughter can experience success.

And the truth is the best way for them to experience this elusive feeling of success is not more, it’s less.

Let them fail.  They will live.

Now, they won’t thank us for this.  In fact, as parents we may have to be the bad guy.

At least for awhile.

But one day, they will be happy their parents let them fail.

Just not today.

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Basketball Class.


This makes me laugh.

Sometimes, it’s nice to see things from a child’s perspective.

from Kid Snippets.

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Let Me Tell You a Little Story About the Grossest Hotel Room Ever.


Actually, it’s not a story about a seedy hotel, but that doesn’t matter.Much Cleaner.  I Mean Much Cleaner.

You are here for the gross part and I’m not about to disappoint.

Let me start at the beginning.

The Evil Spawn was wrapping up her summer season of softball, so we had one final trip. 

I say summer season, because next year starts in about 8 minutes because June 2013 is just around the corner and we’ve got to get these girls practicing (sarcasm alert!).

Since we had this one last tournament and we were tired of living in No Tell Motels, we had the ingenious idea to rent a house.

It would be fun.

It would be close to Lake Michigan.

The whole family together.

It would be like a vacation, except for the fact that 14 hours a day we would be sitting in lawn chairs at some faceless softball field in 197 degree heat.

Actually, it’s fun.  Except for the part where your underwear starts sweating.  I hate that.

One would think a person’s underwear would dry out in extreme heat, but it’s just the opposite.

But, I digress.  We rent this house and it seems like a great idea.

I probably wouldn’t have done this 10 years ago, but now with the interweb it’s just so simple.

Pictures online.  Reviews by other God fearing kind-hearted folks.

What could possibly go wrong?

Turns out a lot.

The pictures didn’t exactly reflect the level of disgusting that wrapped itself around the house like a thick winter coat on a chubby 4-year old.

Turns out people who rent their homes for money don’t use the word "filthy" or the phrase "should be condemened" when they are trying to make a buck.

I should have realized we had a problem when cockroaches met us at the front door.  And they were on their way out.

The look on my wife’s face as she was sentenced… I mean walked in to this rental property was disturbing.  She looked like a teenage girl in a horror movie when the phone rings and the call is coming from inside the house.

She was scared.  And rightfully so.

The highlights were as follows:  old food in the refrigerator, a mysterious hair attached to the TV remote, enough trash hidden under the raised cabinets to start your own dump, and a cat in the corner of the bedroom.

Actually, it wasn’t a cat.

It was a dust bunny in the shape of a 47 pound cat.  I swear it growled at me when I reached down to pet it.

I was afraid to turn on the lights.  Not because I didn’t want to see more dirt, but because I was frightened to touch the light switch.  There was a layer of something on it that reminded me of a petri dish.

I could go on and on, but it gives me the willies and I feel like I need to save part of this story for my therapist.

And as a favor to all of my loyal readers, I’m not even going to tell you my theory on the mystery hair.

My wife tried in vain to find a hotel room for us to stay in, but they were all booked.  Turns out Priceline and William Shatner couldn’t save me on this night.

So I went with Plan B.

I slept in my clothes.

I did survive the night, but then I had to use the restroom and shower.

Honestly, in my 44 years on this Earth, I don’t recall feeling dirtier after a shower than before.  And I grew up in an era where you showered after high school PE.

Something positive did come out of this experience (besides the partial refund).

I have a whole new respect for my wife’s fear of portapotties (she can’t be the only one who would rather explode than take one step into these plastic boxes of infection).

Actually, now that I think about it, I would have been better off sleeping in a portapotty.

As an added bonus it was our wedding anniversary.

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Your Child is Not Going to Be a Professional Athlete.


Another summer.They Are Kids.

Another year of watching parents put unrealistic expectations on their child.

Here are the facts.

Most kids won’t play sports in high school.

Almost every kid won’t play sports in college.

There’s almost no chance you will know anyone who plays professional sports.

Your child has a better chance of being a brain surgeon than playing baseball for the Cardinals, basketball for the Lakers, or football for the Cowboys.

If you weren’t a great athlete, the odds of your child being one are slim to none.

There’s no amount of practice, coaching, or throwing money at the situation that will improve your sons or daughters enough if they aren’t born with special athetic abilities.

Also, screaming at the umpire or referee won’t help.  They really aren’t there to keep your child from being successful (note to self).

The truth is if you were an average athlete, your child will likely be an average athlete.

Parents who are 5 foot 8, seldom have children who are 6 foot 7.  If you were slow, guess what.

If you got cut from your junior high team, don’t plan on your son or daughter participating in the Olympics.

This doesn’t mean kids shouldn’t participate in sports.

It doesn’t mean they have to be great to play.

It just means parents need to be realistic.

The truth is, when your child is 40 no one cares if they hit the ball, scored a basket, or even played when they were 7.

Sit in your lawn chair and enjoy it.

That’s it.  That’s all there is.

There’s no college scholarship or huge contract coming your way.

Just ice cream after the game.  And that’s good enough.

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Children Should Not Be Allowed to Do Homework in the Car.


I blog about what I know.

Maybe that’s why I don’t blog more often.

These days, the Evil Spawn is the center of our universe.

Not because she’s a good kid.  Or an only child (this only applies if you don’t count my son, Buddy the Dog).

Everything revolves around her because she’s involved in everything.

Basketball.  Softball.  Piano.  The drums.  4-H.  Church choir.

You name it and she wants to be a part of it (except cleaning her room… because I’ve named it… and she wants NO part of it).

She’s busy.

Which means we are busy.

I’m not sure who decided 10 year olds can’t drive, but they obviously didn’t have a 10 year old who needed to be transported to 8 different things on a Tuesday evening.

This new kind of life for children is an adjustment for me.

When I was a kid back in the late 70′s and early 80′s we weren’t nearly this busy.

We had time on our hands.

We rode our bikes.

We played in the woods.

We threw rocks in ponds.  And at street signs.  And at trains (don’t judge me).

We complained about being bored.

Now it’s all different.

There are practices.  And games.  And camps.  And uniforms to wash.  And overnight trips. 

Mostly, there isn’t time to sit around and watch the world pass by.

I don’t think this new world is all bad.

But it’s certainly different.

I can’t imagine what things will be like when The Evil One is a parent (scary, I know… but yes, she will one day give birth to the Evil Grandchild).

I can’t imagine kids will be busier than they are now, but what do I know (to review… I think we established I know little or nothing earlier in this blog).

I do think I have a solution.  A law.

A law that makes it illegal for children under the age of 16 to do homework in the car.

This wouldn’t solve all of the worlds problem, but it would certainly slow down youth sports.

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Why Exactly Do We Want Fans?


The Evil Spawn loves sports

I used to.

I don’t remember the exact date my relationship changed with athletics, but it was around the time I became a principal.

That’s when I started watching the crowd instead of the game.

No longer was I focusing on the players.

Now I got to spend hours and hours watching people scream. 

Scream at the game.  The referees.  The coaches.  The scorekeeper.  The players.  And on very special occasions when they just couldn’t take it anymore… each other.

I’ve never understood this.

If you ask parents (and grandparents), they will tell you they love their children’s games.  They look forward to them.

They plan their schedules so they can be there.  They make sacrifices to get their children to practices.  They commit their hard-earned money to shoes and equipment.

Yet, as I look up into the crowd I don’t see a lot of happiness and smiles.

I see anger, paranoia, nerves, and bitterness.

Why is this?

Why can’t people take athletics for what they are.

They are a moment in time.  They are life.

And just like life, they don’t always turn out the way you want.

Sports should be used as a teaching opportunity on how to deal with success.  And failure.

How to get along with others.  How to find your place in a situation bigger than yourself. 

How to lose (and just for the record… losing is okay).

Kids should grow up and only have wonderful memories from their time participating in athletics.

They shouldn’t leave the experience with a headache from all the screaming.

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Parents and Coaches See Things From Different Perspectives.


coachhatEveryone has a tendency to see the world from their own unique perspective.

Democrats see it one way.

Republicans see it another.

It doesn’t make them wrong.

Actually, it makes both sides wrong and absolutely clueless, but that’s another blog (is a Moderate 3rd Party too much to ask for?)

Students see the world differently than teachers.

Young adults have different ideas and views than older ones.

It’s good to have diversity of opinions.

You see it in music.  Every generation is drawn towards a new (and usually louder) style.

Every prom since 1900, parents have been convinced the world is about to end because of the inappropriate way teenagers dance (personally, I blame Glenn Miller, Elvis, Axl Rose, and Lady GaGa).

Of course, they’ve all forgotten how disturbed their parents were when they danced (little heathens).

But these differences are good.

They’re what makes the world go round (actually it’s love).

I see the same thing with parents and coaches.

They couldn’t be more opposite in how they view things.

And by things, I mean playing time.

Coaches aren’t perfect (trust me, I was one…  in a life far far away).

But all coaches are generally trying to accomplish the same goal.  They want to win (and of course, help produce upstanding citizens who pay taxes, obey laws, and mow their lawns).

They may not play the same players we would, but they believe they’re being as fair as possible.

Seldom are they not giving someone a chance because it’s part of a sinister master plan.

Parents see things from a different angle.

Usually the same angle they first viewed during childbirth (which by the way… wasn’t the most pleasant sight for me…).

They are locked in on their own kid, sort of oblivious to everything else (and all the other people’s children).

I came up with this theory (and thousands of other ones) over the course of talking to hundreds of parents.

I’ve yet to meet the mom or dad who is upset because the coach plays their child TOO much.

After all of these conversations about how a coach is ruining everything (i.e. college scholarship), I’ve yet to hear the following even once.

My child shouldn’t be starting.  My child shouldn’t get so many__________ (shots, serves, at-bats, carries, receptions, goals, hits, spikes, chances, opportunities, etc.).

I’m still waiting for the parent who requests a coach who yells more, practices less, and pays little or no attention to their kid.

I keep thinking after all of these years, I will eventually run into someone who sees what the coach sees.

But it’s never happened and probably never will, but I guess that’s okay.

The coach shouldn’t see things the same way parents do.

After all, the parents were at the hospital the day their child was born and the coach was probably at practice.

And those are two way different jobs.

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Parents: It’s Just a Game.


The following are Hockey Canada Public Service Announcements.

They should be required viewing by parents.

And it wouldn’t hurt coaches to watch.

Because nothing brings out the “Idiot Gene” like athletics (or any extracurricular).

It’s amazing how silly these comments seem coming out of kid’s mouths.

Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sports Are Fun. Testing Not So Much.


I have gone through different stages in my life.

From long-hair to shaved (again, way cooler than bald).  From student to superintendent (I haven’t been out of school since 1972).  From poor to making money and still being poor (why do bills arrive in direct proportion to the amount of money you earn?).clip_image001

Politically, I’ve gone from being a Democrat to Republican to Independent to Disenchanted to Just Confused and Hurt.

I’ve also been through stages regarding the amount of importance I place on athletics.

When I was a kid, there was nothing more important.

My world revolved around anything and everything that involved a bat, ball, club, basket, goal, or a game.

I knew every player (and their stats… and sadly, birthday) in every league.  Including hockey and indoor soccer (Go St. Louis Steamers!!!).

Then I grew up (sort of) and became a coach.  I still took sports seriously, but I began to see it wasn’t the only thing that mattered.

Losing does that to you.

After giving up coaching (I think it was my decision), I became a school administrator (also, my decision… I think).

At this point in my life I began to see athletics were just one of the many things that drove me crazy and made my phone ring (landline… old school).

Sports became less fun and more of a hassle.

I began to see athletics as a bother.  I was confused as to why parents didn’t care about testing as much as they did about sports.

Now I’m starting to come full circle.

Maybe I’m growing.  With age comes wisdom (at least that’s what old people tell young people).  Or more likely, I’m just a little less stupid (I’m so old, I remember when stupid was a bad word in school).

As I head into my golden years, I’m beginning to see there’s nothing more important than athletics.  Especially to a small town.

It’s the one thing that ties people together.

Successful small-town sports are like the Olympics.  People will support them even when they don’t personally know the participants.

Or understand the game.

I don’t have a clue about curling, but I’m the #1 fan every four years when the Winter Olympics is on 27 hours a day (USA! USA! USA!)

Community members behave in much the same way.  They may not like football, but if their favorite bag boy at the grocery store is the quarterback… suddenly they have a rooting interest.

They like the feeling they get when their team is doing well.

I’m willing to bet I could go to any town in America and spot a person wearing their high school colors within 2 minutes.

This is because people love belonging to a group.  This feeling is magnified when the group (team) is successful.

Schools and sports can provide this at a local level.

And at a much cheaper price than college or professional sports.

This is why, now and forever, people will always be more passionate about their kids (or neighbors) playing a game than they will about test scores.

It’s just more fun.

I’m not saying this is right.  I’m just saying this is the way it is.

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Disclaimer

While this site operates with the knowledge and awareness of the Tuscola CUSD #301 School Board, Tuscola, Illinois, the content and opinions posted here may or may not represent their views personally or collectively, nor does it attempt to represent the official viewpoint of Tuscola CUSD #301 administrators or employees.