Friday, October 20, 2006

SPORTS - First Capitol News - Mike McMurran Sports Editor

One of my all-time favorite sayings is “Never get into a ‘urinating’ contest with a skunk.” Those familiar with the words of advice know I had to modify one word in order not to offend the family readers of this fine weekly. Even though, I must take exception with a recently published column in a local daily that went on and on how it is not a good idea to coach one’s own children in youth sports. I couldn’t disagree more.

Regular readers of this column know I am (1) my eight year-old son’s head baseball coach and assistant football coach, (b) my six year-old son’s head fall soccer coach (he plays nine months of the year), (c) and starting in December, or so, will become my 11 year-old daughter’s head basketball coach. Why do I do it? I suspect because I do a decent job at it, and as in most human endeavors, we continue doing what we do best.

You see, I have been a teacher longer than I have been a parent. One of the first lessons I learned as a classroom teacher was this: Parents cannot and are not objective when dealing with their own children. What makes me different is that I know I cannot be objective – and knowing it is about 90% of the battle. Whenever making a decision, a coaching decision about one of my own kids, I always get as much input from the other coaches as I can. I am a normal American parent, and see my kids as perfect little angels – usually. I think I know my kids pretty well, their strengths and their weaknesses. During games I am known for yelling, but as most everyone associated with my teams know, I am yelling because I am deaf and assume the rest of the world is deaf. I am not yelling at the kids out of anger, I simply wish to insure they hear what I want them to hear.

What I do ask of my players is commitment – if you are going to be a member of the team, please make every effort to make practice and games. I will go so far as to ask that it be made a priority. On every level that I coach, the hierarchy goes something like this: God, family, school, and then the sport. That makes it easy. For example, a player cannot make it to a game because he or she has been invited to a birthday party. I will ask whose party is it. If it is a friend’s party, then the contest supercedes the party. If it is their cousin’s party, then family wins out. If someone comes to me and suggests that their son is playing on a select soccer team, and that takes priority over my baseball team, I tell them up front – that doesn’t cut it with me and you probably won’t want to play for me. Because if you miss practice to attend a soccer related function, your son’s playing time will be reduced. That very situation has in fact presented itself, and both times the parents decided to adhere to my rules, and baseball won out.

I treat the field of competition with the same sacred respect that I do the classroom. Mistakes are expected. It is my job, as a teacher and a coach, to help the kids from repeating the same mistakes. Isn’t that really what we do as parents, or what we should be doing? It is not an easy task, but a task parents have been successfully overcoming for generations.

Not coaching your own kid? C’mon! After a game, on the ride home, Dee and I will talk about the game, or Joe and I will discuss what went right or wrong – we’re talking some world-class father/son or daughter bonding. It doesn’t get much better, believe me.

“To each their own,” I always say, and from my perspective, coaching my kids might just be some of the most precious time there is. That being said, both of my sons have asked if they could join Boy Scouts, and I told them it was their decision. However, I quickly added, I will not camp out, hike, or anything of the sort. I told them I would coach their baseball and soccer teams, but I was not the “Boy Scout” kind of dad. Both then decided if their dad wasn’t going to do it, they weren’t either. That doesn’t mean I am going to tell all dads not to be involved in Boy Scouts.

And finally, we have only 18 days until we get to vote Sally Unfaithful out of office. I’ve said it here before, but it certainly bears repeating: Sally and her State Republican friends stole the election from Tom Green two years ago. Tom was the two time incumbent state rep from the 15th district and was openly and blatantly lied about in a district-wide mailing campaign. The thieving liars were smart enough to wait until just prior to the election so Tom would have no time to respond. All Tom could do was go to the courts and ask them to stop the fabrications from being spread. They did, but it was too little, too late. Now is the time to pay Sally back for what she did. What was her take on the entire debacle? She had no idea the false mailings were being distributed – no idea in the world! Is that the type of person you want representing you in Jefferson City. I think not!