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Has this ever happened to you? Column about encounter with angry soccer mom...

Discussion in 'Writers' Workshop' started by jshecket, Dec 20, 2006.

  1. jshecket

    jshecket Member

    Reporter's Notebook, Jon Shecket, Delaware Wave, December 13, 2006:
    About 99 percent of the interaction I have with the parents of young athletes is positive. It's one of the best perks of this job when one expresses to me their appreciation of our sports coverage, or even when they offer me suggestions or constructive criticism.

    Last week, the other 1 percent reared its ugly head.

    It was my night off and I was at a bar with a new date. She and I were having a lovely time chatting and listening to the live music when all of a sudden a woman approached our booth.

    "You're that guy from The Wave," she said. "My child plays defense on the (school and sport omitted) team and you didn't mention the defense."

    It is constructive criticism and looking back in our archive, I may not have done the best job relaying his/her efforts in the greatest detail. Unfortunately, this woman was doing no favors to her cause, much less her child, as her drunken state caused her to be repetitive and belligerent with no sign of stopping.

    She even had the audacity to slap my date on the leg when she tried to talk some reason into her.

    The crazy sports mom made me promise that I wouldn't tell anybody whose mom she was, but I will say that her child is very gifted in his/her sport and is quite even-keeled. I am sorry that he/she must put up with this type of behavior from a parent.

    As for my date, bless her soul, she was not completely horrified by the ordeal and she will let me take her out again.

    She said that whether or not things work out between us, she'll always have this story to tell. Her version is probably funnier.

    As for why I have put all of this information about my personal life on this page, there's a bigger issue at play here. It's about parents who may be frustrated by one element or another in their child's sporting life who see fit to cross the line and take their aggression out on a coach, a referee/umpire, a member of the media or a college or pro scout. None of the aforementioned people are infallible and anyone is entitled to say as much -- if they do so in an appropriate manner.

    But to quote the announcement that is read at most high school games, "Let the players play, let the coaches coach, let the officials officiate," and, I will add to that, "Let the sportswriters have their night off in peace."
  2. expendable

    expendable Well-Known Member

    Though it's not the course I would've taken, I do hope it gets your desired result.

    Kind of reminds me of a rule we have in our shop: Never go to the Podunk Vegas Wal-Mart.
  3. jshecket

    jshecket Member

    In the sense that it was an opportunity for my column to be about more than just nothing, then yes it did get a desired result. I can't afford to never go to Wal-Mart.
  4. Flash

    Flash Guest

    If your date's version of the story is probably funnier, you should have interviewed her for your column.
  5. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    To be honest, Jon, you come off as a bit of a fussbudget in that column.

    You gotta take the good with the bad. I have gotten good story ideas from parents who first started bitching about something that was (or wasn't) written.
  6. expendable

    expendable Well-Known Member

    I've never in my life seen fussbudget written out.

    Good pull.
  7. SportsDude

    SportsDude Active Member

    Re: Has this ever happened to you? Column about encounter with angry soccer mom.

    Should of went Simers on her ass.
  8. friend of the friendless

    friend of the friendless Active Member

    Mr Shecket,

    I visited this with mixed results. The reference to a has-been Hollywood type was tied to something that was in the news at the time (ten years ago when this was published).

    Scourge of the paparazzi nothing beside wrath of the hockey mom
    29 September 1997

    TOO often lately we've been treated to the bleatings of celebrities and near-celebrities whose lives have supposedly been made miserable by the tabloid press and nosy lensmen.

    The puck scribe works several leagues under even the remotely famous, but must cope with a scourge no less intrusive and far more menacing: the hockey parent.

    Steven Seagal can grouse about braving a phalanx of telephoto lenses en route to a blowfish dinner, but he would cower in a showdown like the one I suffered through the other day.

    I was not only introduced to the mother of a junior player, but introduced as a hockey writer. I wish I had disavowed my occupation.

    "What do you think of my son?" she asked, bypassing the amenities.

    I had seen her son play a dozen times in the past two years. He was, in fact, the leading scorer on his major-junior team. He also was not selected in his National Hockey League draft year. "As good as he's ever going to be," scouts deemed.

    The situation called for diplomacy, if not dishonesty. "Your son's a good, tough player," I said.

    True. One night I saw him score on a breakaway on the road and then skate by the home team's bench to look for a scrap. He yelled epithets that would have made Andrew Dice Clay blush.

    "He wasn't drafted because of his father, right?" the woman said. "Go ahead, you can say it."

    Oh, boy. I knew not only the kid but also his father, a tough athlete in his own right but a fellow whose series of battles with booze and drugs was headed to a seventh game. As a result, he and his wife had long ago cleared marital waivers.

    Here, though, diplomacy couldn't override the truth.

    "No matter how bad your ex might be, if a team projected your son as a pro, they would have drafted him," I said. "Teams don't hold parents against the players.

    "Scouts figure that your son is a good junior player, but that he won't develop far beyond that -- good enough to star in junior, probably play in high minors as a pro, but not to be a NHLer."

    There are occasions that beg for the lie of convenience. This was one of those situations.

    The mother's profane tirade proved that her son might have been a chip off the father's block as an athlete, but his mouth definitely came from her side of the family.

    "I saw him play against Joe Thornton," she said. "He's nuthin'. He can't do anything that my son can't do."

    I was too polite to point out that Thornton, the first pick over-all in the 1997 draft, could pull a quarter-million out of his savings account without putting a dent in it, and her son couldn't. Right now her son might be almost as good as Thornton, but only because the Boston's future star has a cast on his arm.

    "With Thornton's size the scouts can project him becoming stronger and his skills getting better. Scouts might guess wrong about a kid making it sometimes, but they almost never guess wrong about a kid not making it."

    Sure, there are stories of players who weren't selected in their draft year, who walk on, try out and eventually make the grade. Mike Keane worked the miracle in Montreal years back, and is now a $2-million-a-season guy in New York. Dave Poulin had a long and productive career skating out of the college ranks.

    Fact is, with 26 teams, with a draft that digs through 400 juniors to find 40 that will be pros of long standing, with the money at risk, it's ever less likely that a player will escape the scouting dragnet.

    There are still misses, yet those who are passed over once are likely to be discovered later. Take the Leafs' Mike Johnson. A late-developing kid who didn't show much as a U.S. collegian before his draft year, Johnson was passed over in his draft year. Yet a couple of years later everybody knew about him and he was the object of a bidding war.

    In Ottawa, winger Magnus Arvedsson went undrafted as an 18-year-old, but a lot of teams knew his shoe size this summer before Ottawa drafted him as a 25-year-old. Good players are found. Ex-husbands and politics don't factor in it.

    The mother was not swayed. "My son's as good as Thornton. He practices with pros and he's as good as them. It's his father's fault. We've got an agent, and if he doesn't find a job for my son we'll find another agent."

    What would Steven Seagal do if he had to face down this mother of all hockey mothers? Probably wish that he were famous.

    YHS, etc
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