Because I Love The Seattle Times And Hate Stage Parents

There are a lot of idiots out there. Most of them tend to send hate mail to The Seattle Times sports department.

I used to be employed by the Times, and let me just say that it’s one of the best places to work in the entire world. It really is. Face it, there are few jobs we leave behind that we can still speak well of, but I’d go to the ends of the earth to defend the Times’ sports department because it really means that much to me. Part of that has to do with the personnel, my former colleagues in the industry. On top of being knowledgeable sports fans, the folks I worked with in that building were flat-out good people. I can’t say a bad word about any of them. Which is entirely the reason I dedicate this rant to my ex-coworkers, and apologize in advance if any of my readers get upset and start asking you guys questions.

With that said, let’s get on with the show. You’ll like this. I promise.

Stage parents. The epitome of evil. They love their kids so damn much that they’re willing to f**k with everybody else to get what’s best for their son or daughter. If only we could learn to appreciate that without hating them. But we can’t. And frankly, they wouldn’t care if we could. Because they’re crazy and also delusional, which makes for a dangerous combination. So instead, we make light of their intense battle with sanity in half-witted articles like this.

When I was covering high school sports at the Times, we’d frequently get emails from stage parents who freaked out over our coverage — or lack thereof — of their child and his or her school and/or sport.

For instance, we once got a request for more lacrosse coverage. Lacrosse. Seriously. Maybe if the name of the sport wasn’t spelled so metrosexually.

Then there was the time that the mother of a gymnast bitched me out over our lack of gymnastics reporting. I’m sorry, ma’am, is it an Olympic year? No? Then no one cares.

And hey, let’s give a well-earned salute to the parents of those mighty athletes over at Bellevue Christian. These people would write us every week demanding more coverage on their Class 1A private school. Props to you guys for watching your sons and daughters compete. That makes one of us, at least.

I distinctly remember reading one email in which a dad wrote to us begging for a story on his son, a backup running back on a football team that wasn’t any good. He was straightforward enough to say that he was trying to get his kid noticed so that he could earn an athletic scholarship. I respected the honesty, so I went and looked up the file on the kid, who ended up being listed at around 5’5″, 140. Sorry sir, but unless you want your boy to play for the Sisters of the Weak and Dismembered, I think you better tell him to get his ass in the classroom and start working on the academics.

Outside of the isolated incidents, the most common complaints were about the spelling of a name in our online database. Now let me go on record as saying that The Seattle Times strives for accuracy above all else. No jokes about this. In the world of journalism, credibility is everything. There were times when I’d do a Facebook search on a kid just to see how he spelled his name. It was that important that I had to creep around social networking sites in order to get the facts straight. So take note, stage parents. It’s not like the effort wasn’t there or anything.

That said, if your kid is a) not that good and b) has a name in which the consonant-to-vowel ratio is ridiculously disproportionate then yes, errors can occur. Everyone makes mistakes. It’s just easier to screw up when your kid is named after something off the menu at a Thai restaurant.

Perhaps the best part about receiving the spelling error emails is that they generally read along the lines of this:

“You jackass. You mispelt my sun’s name. He isn’t offen in the paper and this really means alot to him. Also how our college recrutters suppose to serch him on Google when you mispelt his name? Oh, and also you’re info is all screwed up jackass. He shuld be credited with 3yards receeving, not 2 jackass. Fix it.”

And so it goes.

Stage parents, you slay me. I’d wager that you care more about your kid getting his name in the paper then your kid does. And to a degree, I get that. I understand. Those nuggets of recognition are like oxygen to a proud mom or dad, and rightfully so. But there is a line. And you seemingly have no idea when you’ve crossed that line. Which is a problem.

Let me tell you something about the difference between you and your kid. You would literally kill someone to have your son’s defensive football stats recorded in ink. But your kid? Given the choice between getting print credit for a half-tackle or getting naked photos of the girlfriend delivered straight to the Blackberry, your son will take the cellphone pics every time. And yes, that sort of thing does happen. It’s called sexting, and all the kids do it. It’s like what the hula hoop meant to you. Except way better.

Finally, a personal shout out to one Eric McDowell, tennis coach at Bellevue High School. Some of you who know me may be aware that I used to attend Bellevue back in the day. It’s my alma mater, and I’m a proud Wolverine. So proud, in fact, that I can’t ignore the past contributions that Eric has made to the The Seattle Times sports department.

Two years ago, we received an email from Eric lambasting the newspaper’s coverage of BHS tennis. Yes. Really. Eric was so irate that he felt the need to point out that he was going to encourage all his fellow Bellevue coaches across all sports to boycott the Times. In addition, he was going to tell all the parents of his players to cancel their subscriptions to the paper. We were bad people, it turned out, because we hadn’t taken notice of a so-so tennis program headed up by a so-so coach. Shame on us.

Of course, when we received Eric’s email at the paper, we did our very best to handle it in a proper manner. But let me tell you something, Eric. I don’t work there anymore, and it’s time that we paid you proper homage for being a jerk.

First of all, you know why no one covers your tennis team? Because it’s tennis. Not because you’re not good enough (which you’re not anyways). Not because the kids themselves aren’t worthy of the recognition. Because it’s tennis. And most people out there do not give a flying rat’s ass about high school tennis. Look, my little brother played tennis for you at Bellevue, and I love my brother, but that doesn’t mean I give a crap about the program once he’s done with it. If you think people should care about Bellevue tennis, then go ahead and write a book and see how many copies you can sell. I can already tell you that I will not be buying your book, even as a proud BHS alum, solely because it’s about high school tennis. I don’t think I can hammer this point home strongly enough to get it through to you. In summing up this paragraph, here is a numerical list which I have put in bold font for your reference:

1. It’s tennis.

2. No one cares.

3. You should write a book.

4. A book which no one will care about.

5. Because the book is about tennis.

Secondly, we need to address your attitude. You’re a teacher, Eric. A person who is entrusted to watch over kids. Now how is someone supposed to trust you with their kid when you’re firing off belligerent emails that make you look like a complete bleepstick? A bleepstick, Eric. No one wants that label hanging over their head. But you’ve earned it, and now you’re stuck with it. You felt the need to threaten an entire corporation because a few people weren’t paying enough attention to you. You’re like an overgrown child. Everyone! Look what Eric can do, look what Eric can do! There you go, Eric. Your moment of recognition.

I’d say we’re square now, Eric. You threw your email tantrum and I’m doffing my cap to you with a few sentences in this post. The playing field is now level. In terms you’re more familiar with, we’ll call it a deuce.


12 thoughts on “Because I Love The Seattle Times And Hate Stage Parents”

  1. I totally agree. I know girls basketball parent (not in my program) who made who it her crusade to equalize the coverage of girls and boys sports and felt the Times was obligated to do so.

    I am a varsity girls coach basketball coach and couldn’t have agreed with her any less. I told her the Times is private company, that has a bottom line. They need to sell papers. Badly. Your casual paper reader (if they even care about HS Sports fan) is far more interested in boys sports, in the main sports (1. football 2. Basketball 3. Baseball) from big schools (3A, 4A). I told her the Times does more than it should when it comes to reporting on female sports, small schools, smaller sports (no one even plays lacrosse in the city).

    The times has to balance their obligation of reporting on the local happenings with selling a paper. And I think they do a FANTASTIC job of it. If parents want more coverage of their sports they need to talk to the community paper.

    Great article. Time is awesome. Big ups to Mason Kelley. He has taken the HS section to whole new level with updates on the blog and understanding of the local sports scene. Not may states have even the stats that the Times maintains (for Hoops at least)

  2. BTW. I also disagreed with her premise that girls sports were grossly undercovered in comparison with boys. I mostly pay attention to the hoops coverage but I really think it is close.

  3. Alex, thanks for writing an article that was a long time coming. Stage parents are like the mothers of pageant kids sometimes.

  4. HEY, Eric if you write a book on tennis and include the writer’s brother I WILL BUY THE BOOK! SO there you go Alex, one book sold! BLSSShhhhhttt! :’P ( I know I know, Your point exactly!)

  5. That was one of my favorite pieces you’ve done. Nice job. And as another former Times employee, I will attest to the company being a great company to work for. They took good care of their employees and fought hard to maintain journalistic integrity.

    With that said, the people running the Advertising Department are destroying it. That’s the world I came from and it is a mess right now. Jeaninne Duval is a horrible person and should have never been put in charge of Advertising. She is the love child of Satan and Hitler.

  6. There is also something about that place that brings out the crazy in the readers. I used to handle Boston Medical Group. A company that specializes in men’s health. More specifically erectile dysfunction. Man, I used to get some crazy calls from readers about their ads.

  7. I have been coming to the blog recently after I heard Alex on 950 KJR with Ian Furness and others.

    Love the blog stop by it everyday to read it.

    This article right here, is spot on. I played high school football (won a state championship as well) and all I can remember from that time are the parents of the kids who weren’t good enough always trying to angle to get there kid more playing time….that is sad..

    I should be remembering all the good times but honestly they were tarnishe by stage parents trying to take over everything.

    I have a co-worker who’s 4th grade son just started playing youth football in Skylines program, all I have heard from him is how the parents complain about there kid not playing enough, or even the coaches yelling at the 4th grader over stuff that I honestly don’t think a 4th grader would understand.

    It is getting out of control and I am glad this was posted. I wish more was heard about this in the newspaper so these coachs, parents, ect could be outed and shown off to be the jerks they really are.

  8. Amen: Finally a seattle sports fan agrees with the hate mail for the Seattle Times Sports, they never give Minor League football, Basketball or Boxing any room. They are anti-Seattle Sports Fans, no wonder the PI Sports went Online, are the Seattle Times next. Thank you Sportsnet for ignoring all my comments, are you on the Seattle Times payroll too?

  9. Everyone, meet Don. Usually I just delete his comments because he’s nucking futs, but because I have a story that plays into his cameo appearance on the message board, I’ll let his insanity ride for a minute.

    Don used to send us hate mail when I worked at the Times. He was upset because we wouldn’t cover his semi-semi-pro football league that featured the mysterious Taco Wallace as a “secret player.” Seriously. Don cooked up this promotion in which he sent out a handwritten press release that listed an enigma by the name of “L. Wallace” who was supposedly the best football player in the world. Which of course explains why Wallace was playing in a semi-semi-pro league and not the Seahawks, a team he once suited up for. In fact, I wrote about it once here:

    So anyways, ever since Don read the Taco Wallace article on these pages, he’s been hounding me to write about his semi-semi-pro football league by leaving hate-filled comments on articles here and there. Because there’s no better way to get what you want then to spread hate. I’m probably like two more comments away from filing a restraining order or something, and I don’t doubt that Don probably sits out on his front porch with a shotgun yelling at things that only he can see.

    Continuation of the funny story. A message was once posted on the website of the semi-semi-pro football league that Don pimps explaining how Don had been overthrown as commissioner of said league for some reason or another. Apparently, Don’s league is run like the Roman Empire and he’s the czar they all don’t like.

    Anyways, I just thought you all should know more about Don. He’s a weird guy, and he’ll probably be kicking around this site like a Pioneer Square bum who follows you to your car.

  10. Funny because I actually go to Bellevue Christian and I do hear parents whine about their kids routinely. Great school, great basketball program (2 1A championships in the past 4 years), but with it being in Bellevue you do get the “posh posh” parents who live in mansions and think that their kid is the world.

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