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confrontation with glory-seeking dad

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by sartrean, Feb 25, 2007.

  1. sartrean

    sartrean Member

    I've got a lot of this in my time, and I'm accustomed to glory-seeking parents. My most recent confrontation, however, was a little different.

    I walked outside with the glory-seeking dad, and this gentlemen who looked quite well-to-do, and was as tall as I am, stood closely in front of me and looked me squarely in the eyes and quizzed me on how I do my job. He spoke calmly, yet he was very assertive, which is much different than most glory-seeking parent confrontations. I think he must be a lawyer or something.

    He kept asking me the same question, in rapid fire fashion:

    "How is it a kid who plays all 32 minutes of a game that turns out to be the team's biggest win in history and the kid is not mentioned anywhere in the newspaper story about the game? How can that happen? He works just as hard as the other kids and plays his heart out, so how could you fail to mention his name in the story you wrote? How can that happen? I just want to know how that can happen? You've covered his team before and you didn't mention his name in those stories either, but this was their biggest win in program history. Since you went to great lengths to NOT mention his name, you must be a cold and heartless individual. So I want to know what you have against my son or my family that you would make you go to such great lengths to avoid mentioning his name in the story you wrote. How could you be so insensitive to my son? He's a 16-year old kid and he noticed that his name wasn't anywhere to be found in the story about his team's biggest win in history."

    I wanted to say that I don't put much thought into writing gamers, usually because I have about 15-20 minutes to write gamers on deadline. I didn't remember his kid from the game in question, but looking back at stat sheets, his kid had 4 points, all on free throws, 3 assists, played all 32 minutes and turned the ball over six times.

    I really didn't know how to respond to this guy. Listening to him quiz me reminded me of getting a lecture from a cop during a traffic stop or something.

    I also wanted to say to this guy something smart-ass like, "I hear these kind of complaints from every parent that reads the big city daily rag, so join the club motherfucker."

    I didn't give him any smart assed answers, and told him that I don't remember why exactly I failed to mention his kid's name in the story. I also told him that I don't usually mention every kid's name who plays on the team. I apologized to him by saying "sorry you were displeased..." But he kept repeating his questions, over and over. I told him I just didn't have a response. "I don't know..." is all I said.

    He also used this time to bitch about headlines and photo cutlines, which I have no control over.

    He knodded his head up and down, kind of the way a lawyer does on TV when they're examining a hostile witness. I could hear the game beginning inside, so I apologized again for his displeasure. That's the way we left it, the dad looking at me like I just ran over his dog and didn't even acknowledge that I did it.

    I get these complaints all the time, and I was wondering if there were any polite and professional, canned responses I could fire back at these parents that would shut them up quickly. Any suggestions? Also, any suggestions on how to deal with this kind of feedback when it's very personal.

    I don't think of myself as cold and heartless, and I've never been told that by any of my coworkers or girlfriends. But it still stings.
  2. MartinEnigmatica

    MartinEnigmatica Active Member

    This is about what you ought to remember. Of course it stings, because there's two different sides to any gamer. The kids read it as sort of an honor roll, while you write it as an informative recap of what happened, what was important. If you can't even remember the kid's performance, chances are it weren't to crucial, anyway. And if he had more turnovers than points, that kind of offers your affirmation.
    It's not mean to leave him out of the story. But what are you going to say? "Johnny Butterfingers almost coughed up the team's most important win when his errant past found an opponent's hand for the sixth time." You can't say that. You can't dress it up.
    It just sounds like this guy was more imposing than your average angry parent...but seriously, don't give it much thought. Your best option is to not make a deal out of it, offer an "I'm sorry you feel that way" or other version of the phrase.
  3. Shifty Squid

    Shifty Squid Member

    With his stats being what you said they were, I'm almost 100% certain this is a lie.

    The kid didn't "notice" his name wasn't in the paper; the kid either didn't give a damn or was hoping his name wouldn't be in the paper because he knows he played like shit. His dad, on the other hand, was hoping you might give his kid a little morale boost by listing his name as a contributor on the winning team. Instead, you didn't mention him at all, which means he actually has to be a parent and not rely on the local reporter to bail his kid out.

    Don't give it even a first thought.
  4. jimnorden

    jimnorden Member

    You should have told the guy to fuck off. Seriously. What a dick. And then tell him his son's not as great as his father thinks he is. I hate parents like this. what a cock.
  5. sartrean

    sartrean Member

    I wanted to tell him to fuck off, but in my neck of woods, these parents have a knack for mass e-mailing a hundred editors.

    I wish I had a quick, one-line comeback for these glory seekers, a comeback that's professional, polite and puts them in their place. I usually just say "sorry you are displeased..." and move on, but this guy wasn't accepting that and kept repeating his criticisms and questions.
  6. MartinEnigmatica

    MartinEnigmatica Active Member

    Well, you could tell him if his son performed like his wife did in bed the previous night, he might've been in the story.
  7. Mystery_Meat

    Mystery_Meat Guest

    If he wasn't going to go away, ask him if he could tell you why the kid deserved to be in the story. Then he could try to tell you how those four free throws were the only thing that kept this team from certain doom. Lawyers don't like not being in control of the situation, and they certainly don't like being cross-examined.

    Otherwise, just inwardly roll your eyes and walk away -- in essence, what you did.

    Or you could actually run over his dog. I mean, if you're going to do the time, might as well do the crime.
  8. Moderator1

    Moderator1 Moderator Staff Member

    Don't mess with dogs, under any circumstances. The dog didn't do anything wrong.
  9. Mystery_Meat

    Mystery_Meat Guest

    I assumed "dog" would be "butt-ugly kid", quite possibly Mr. Six Turnovers.
  10. ColbertNation

    ColbertNation Member

    I love the "he works just as hard as anyone else" argument. As if effort should merit any kind of reward. But I have to agree with Shifty. I seriously doubt this guy's son woke up early the next morning to see if his name was in the paper. Honestly, how many high school kids read the newspaper? The father was upset because HE didn't see his kid's name in the paper, and he hasn't accepted that his son is a second-tier player at best.
    As for a canned answer, I usually stick with the "I'm sorry you're upset." It gives the parent the "I'm sorry" that he's looking for without admitting you did anything wrong (and you didn't do anything wrong).
  11. ostentatious

    ostentatious Member

    the only comeback i have for 'my son/daughter works just as hard/harder as anyone else'...

    ditch diggers work harder than anyone, but you never read about them in the paper either.

    last night i covered a team in a district semifinal where five players on the winning team scored. four scored in double figures, one was not. the one who didn't score in double figures transfered to this school in a big hub-bub last year and was supposed to be an all-world player and has fallen on his face (the type of player that is a shitty team's only option but when he has to play in a system with other players who are worth a fuck he falls apart).

    anywho, after getting called for traveling with a 12-point lead this guy slammed the ball at midcourt and was t'ed up (the ref actually had his mouth fall open...because he, like me, couldn't believe the kid was so pissy with a double-digit lead in the third quarter).

    can't wait to go into the office to hear about how i'm screwing the kid's college chances over because i've made little to no mention of him the last month.
  12. RFB-Boy

    RFB-Boy Member

    Parents who want equality in all realms of sport should stick to the city leagues where everybody gets to play equal minutes in basketball, everybody gets to bat around in baseball, and everyone goes for ice cream after the game. At the high school varsity level and higher, you play to win the game. Those who don't contribute much to a win do not always get mentioned and certainly do not get fruit cup. We all get these complaints. No matter who you supposedly glorify, you supposedly slight someone else.
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