Parents must not be allowed to hijack the games our kids play

Parental sniveling, a frequent scourge on coaches at youth and high school levels, has become a runaway tank, remorselessly eradicating anyone and anything in its path.

And it's getting worse, way worse, to the point that Connecticut High School Coaches Association executive director John Fontana sent a letter to the membership recently, calling for more voices to be heard.

"I urge your support on a growing concern about parents complaining to high school administrators about coaches' decisions," Fontana wrote, "about player selection, positions and playing time that result in administrative leave or termination.

"I average at least two calls per week about coaches who are put on administrative leave because of these complaints. The CHSCA has been meeting to draw up a proposal to the state legislature regarding the nonrenewal of a coaching contract and how it cannot be based solely on parental complaints."

The plight of Sal Follo, the Milford cooperative program hockey coach, inspired Fontana's letter. Follo, at Milford's Foran High for 24 years (the co-op also includes players from Jonathan Law and Platt Tech), was put on administrative leave and terminated from his coaching position recently, despite positive yearly evaluations. Fontana said the termination was "based on a few parent complaints about playing time for certain players."

Follo hired a lawyer, Michael J. Dolan of New Haven, who asked for a hearing before the Board of Education. Here is what Dolan wrote to the CHSCA:

"Apparently, this is not going to be a one night hearing where each side gets to have a few witnesses talk at a podium for a few minutes each," Dolan wrote. "Instead, it is going to be more like an actual trial, with direct and cross-examination. Each side is probably going to have between five and 10 witnesses, so we are now looking at probably three nights total, from Sept. 4-6."

To recap: a three-night trial before the Board of Education over playing time.

You can't make it up.

Hence, I urge all coaches and administrators to lend me your ears. Maybe we all don't know each other personally. But we share this much: We've had enough. Parents must be stopped. It's time not merely to stand unified, but to mount an offense as well.

I prose the creation of CREEP: Coaches Resisting Every Entitled Parent. Here is how I would like CREEP to work:

It is pro forma for coaches in every sport to meet with parents before the season begins. CREEP requests that at least one administrator be present at each such meeting, preferably the principal and superintendent.

And then the head coach says this to the gathering:

"Good evening parents. Thank you for coming. I'd like to introduce Principal Jones and Superintendent Smith. They have entrusted me with running this program.

"Know what that means? All decisions are mine. Mine, mine, mine. All mine. I get to play whomever I want, whenever I want. All decisions are final. There will be no meetings about playing time or strategy with parents. None. Why? It is not a birthright. You have no standing. Zero. And because this is my program. My show. I am the producer and director. The monarch and czar.

"And just so you know: I am eminently comfortable saying all this because I have the full support of Principal Jones and Superintendent Smith. They trust me. And have entrusted me with this program. The day they don't trust me anymore, they'll get rid of me. But until such time, I make every single decision. I may seek input from my coaches, players and any mentors I have. But the opinion of parents is irrelevant.

"Moreover, this entire speech is being taped. It will be available on the school website for future reference. So if you feel so inclined to schedule a meeting about playing time, please refer to the video.

"Tonight's meeting was brought to you by CREEP. Thank you for attending."

You may use your own prose if you'd like. But CREEP demands you mount an offense. And perhaps a wink and a nod to being offensive. That's the only way to communicate with these people. Because CREEP guarantees that if you allow yourself to get into a playing time meeting, you'll hear this:

"We're not THOSE parents," they'll tell you.

And then you'll have to stand up and say, "liar, liar pants on fire."

They are exactly THOSE parents.

And they must be silenced.

Now.

They are hijacking the games our kids play.

This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro

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