Colin Dunlap | 9:32 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 23
Here it is, the entire spectrum right here.
I stumbled across two things today (well, actually one was e-mailed to me) that are on polar opposite ends of what makes youth sports tremendous and, conversely, what makes them sickening somtimes.
First, the good.
With the Tampa Bay Devil Rays playing in the World Series, manager Joe Maddon has received a large amount of publicity -- and rightly so, he's done a great job with the club. Maddon is from Hazleton, Pa. and in a World Series press gathering, he was asked how the hard-working town shaped his roots. Here was his answer:
JOE MADDON: Well, I tell you, I think if you grew up where I grew up and when I grew up, the one word that comes to mind is respect. That's the one thing that's pounded into you between a Polish mother and Italian father and nuns through the eighth grade. You definitely learn respect at an early age. And I think that permeates everything else that happens. If you learn respect as a youngster, I think that benefits you in everything you do as you're growing up, whether it's the athletic endeavors. Staying when I was 10, when you go to high school there on a Friday night. I know you watch Friday Night Lights now on television, it was no different back then, only the Pennsylvania version. So you had all of this -- you had whatever you want to call it, pressure or expectations placed on you even when you're that young, which is great. It was great. ... The thing that I think is underestimated is when you grow up in a community like that and coming from a large family like I did, you truly were raised by more than your mother and father. If my uncle saw me getting out of line I was smacked in a heartbeat. So talk about respect, to get out of line was very difficult, because you were covered everywhere you went. ... I don't know if that happens as often today as maybe it did back then.
OK, that is the good. Now the bad.
Today, I received an unsolicited e-mail from a parent, telling me of the merits of their 12-year-old tennis player and how, they "Thought you might want to mention the following" in my notebook. The parent then went on to tell me all about their little superstar's accomplishments.
Fair enough, OK, you want some pub for your kid, I can live with it.
But, the last two lines of the e-mail are what made me realize how ridiculous some parents can be, and even more, how ridiculous some "media" services can be....I kid you not, the e-mail wrapped up with:
"[Name of kid] is a seventh grader from [Name of school]. She was recently named a five star recruit by tennisrecruiting.net."
So there is a .com out there ranking 12-year-old kids with a star system? Seriously, what is the world coming to?