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Modest Proposals
By Chris Elliott


January 25, 2007
Thursday PM

No matter the sport, there are a few truisms: First, coaches draft players based on their personal relationship with the player's family rather than the player s ability. How else to explain why your future pro isn't starting or isn't an All Star or, heaven forbid, didn't make the varsity squad? Second, with the "right" coach, a mediocre or inexperienced team can beat all comers and, conversely, with the "wrong" coach, a team will lose no matter how talented the players. How else to explain why your child's team isn't No. 1? And, finally, umpires and referees are incredibly stupid or blind or have big money riding on the games at which they officiate. How else to explain why the person in the best position to make an accurate call can be so wrong? We must do everything we can to remedy the situation, so I m submitting the following modest proposals.

If your child isn't playing enough and/or your child's team isn't winning, begin by giving the coach a piece of your mind. Don't hold back. The most effective argument is peppered with insults and vague threats. If this doesn't produce the desired result and you're lucky enough to be in a situation where someone higher up can lean on the coach, campaign to have the coach removed. Before you begin, contact other distressed parents and prepare a list of generic grievances that you will feel comfortable airing in public. (You wouldn't want anyone to get the wrong idea about your motives.) If you're unsuccessful, keep stirring the pot. Odds are the coach will quit before your child graduates. This is a win-win strategy for you and extremely effective in a variety of other situations.

Getting rid of stupid, blind or crooked officials is much simpler. Even paid officials will wilt under a constant critical onslaught, although the risk of being T'd or thrown out of the park before victory is achieved cannot be discounted . The coach should always initiate the action. Before each game, practice rolling your eyes and shaking your head while muttering I can't believe it . This lets your players, their parents and the fans know that the official is clueless and encourages them join in your performance. Crying out "Are you kidding me?" when a foul is called on one of your players alerts the official to the fact that you do not agree with his call, valuable information that he might not otherwise have. Then there are the ever-popular "Traveling!" and "Double dribble!" These are educational tools. Most officials have never played the game and will need help from time to time in recognizing these prohibited acts. (While the preceding suggestions relate to basketball, experienced hecklers should have no trouble substituting appropriate phrases for other sports.)

Play ball!

Chris Elliott
Ketchikan, AK

Received January 25, 2007 - Published January 25, 2007

About: "Ketchikan resident"



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