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Archive for Sunday, May 9, 2004

Wood: Parents shouldn’t be threat

May 9, 2004

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It's a serious -- and horrible -- problem that's getting closer and closer to home.

High school athletes' parents, who think they are above the system, lose control, and, in the alleged case of a Blue Springs (Mo.) South soccer dad, become violent.

Joseph Soto, a Lenexa resident and the father of two former Blue Springs South girls soccer players, allegedly punched Jaguar coach Steve Bettlach in the mouth Monday in an otherwise vacant Blue Springs South classroom. The reason? Bettlach wouldn't allow Soto's two daughters back on the team after they had quit several days earlier.

Soto now must deal with the law. That's his problem, and I have no sympathy for him.

But Soto's daughters -- one of them just a freshman -- now have to deal with their father's moronic acts for as long as they live. That's just sickening.

Unfortunately, reports of prep parents losing their cool on referees, other fans, coaches -- anyone in their child's way, really -- are too common. Out-of-control parents exist in every city in America, including Lawrence, and it disgusts me when stories pop up from around the nation regarding their loss of composure.

Now, it's happening 50 miles away in suburban Kansas City. Karl Zinke, sports editor of The Examiner in Blue Springs, wrote a column condemning the out-of-control parents after the alleged incident took place, calling the problem "another ugly tale of parents getting too involved in the athletic careers of their children."

Among the feedback he received came from parents who agreed with Soto and blamed the coach for causing Soto to lose his cool. The coach, they claimed, was unreasonable. How dare he step in the way of two girls trying to earn a college scholarship, they wrote.

They are, without a doubt, absolutely wrong.

Parents these days lose sight of who's in charge of a team. It's not the players. It's not the players' parents.

It's the coach.

Parents lose sight of what matters most on a team. It's not the individuals. It's not the individuals' potential scholarship opportunities.

It's the team.

In this case, a soccer coach standing up for what he (and I) think is right cost him 12 stitches on his lip and a trip to the hospital.

How in the world can this possibly be justified?

There's a lesson to be learned here. As a former prep athlete, I saw my own parents take great pride in my success. It was wonderful to have their support, and any athlete in a similar situation has a distinct advantage every time they step on the field.

But the moment one of them crossed the line -- talking to the coach about playing time, in my case -- I truly was embarrassed.

If I'm not starting, I told my parents, I have something to prove. Not something to gripe about.

Every situation is different, but prep parents from Lawrence to Eudora to Blue Springs to the end of the planet need to step back, take a deep breath, and enjoy the glory days their children are experiencing.

Before you know it, it'll be in the past, nothing more than times to look back and reminisce about.

Why jeopardize staining those memories?

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