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.