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Old 11-09-2006, 11:12 PM   #1
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Default Who needs T.O.? Youth football far worse

Who needs T.O.? Youth football far worse
When league owner takes his ball and goes home, you know it's bad

By Bob Cook
MSNBC contributor
Updated: 1 hour, 31 minutes ago

Leading up to election day, Washington was abuzz over the possible recriminations of a scandal that rocked the Beltway. As it turned out, public opinion spoke out loudly against the central figure in this messy affair.

Jack Abramoff? No, Dan Hinkle. He is but the most egregious example of the petty politics, corrupt practices, vile invective, tin-eared communication skills and forearm shivers of a once-respected institution whose stature may well be falling in the eyes of many Americans: youth football.

It is people like Dan Hinkle who teach America’s football-playing children a valuable lesson: Adults are idiots. Parents, coaches and leagues don’t need to worry about the likes of Tyler Brayton’s kneeing Jerramy Stevens in the sweet spot or Terrell Owens’ doing whatever it is he’s doing today being a corrupting influence on their children. They can be plenty corrupted watching what’s happening on their own sideline, or in their own stands.

Here’s how bad things have gotten. Recently Bill Romanowski, the former NFL linebacker-head hunter-Kerry Collins jawbreaker-J.J. Stokes spitter-atter who is now a flag football coach, got in the face of an opposing team’s player because he was hitting too hard. What does it say about the state of youth football in America that it has gotten too radical for Bill Romanowski?

Before I go on detailing the infamy that was the 2006 youth football season — and with so many incidents of violence, financial chicanery, political tussles and general creepiness, I could on for much longer than I do here — let me say I am aware that there are thousands of volunteer coaches and supportive parents who provide good examples for their children, preaching and following the rules of sportsmanship. Good for you! But to paraphrase Chris Rock, that’s what you’re supposed to do! What, you want a cookie?

Each year, your numbers grow fewer. The San Francisco Chronicle recently reported that, according to the National Alliance for Youth Sports, incidents of violence among parents involved in youth sports quadrupled between 2000 and 2005. Usually the coaches are parents, so they’re counted here. I’m just picking on youth football because, well, it’s football season. But the following lessons applies to all sports.

First, parents, your kid is not going to play professional sports. Not unless he’s 6-foot-4 by age 12, or you’ve been feeding him steroids since he could take solid food. So stop playing Marv Marinovich. Second, coaches — you are not the second coming of Bill Belichick, Vince Lombardi, George Halas or Amos Alonzo Stagg. Stop acting like NFL teams are scouting your pee-wee game, looking for new blood. Take the pressure off yourselves and your kids, and incidents like what will make up this rest of this column are less likely to happen.

Although it won’t stop all the stupidity. Here’s the third lesson: White fans shouldn’t dress up in fake Afros unless Ben Wallace is playing on the home team. That’s what happened with Hudson, Ohio, Black Hawks youth football fans who were shocked that some teams with black players withdrew from their league after being appalled by the blackface-Afro-and-beak outfits the Hudsonites wore as costumes to one game. Hey, don’t you get it? We’re Black Hawks!

So back to Hinkle. The commissioner of a Fairfax County, Va., league got onto the front page of the Washington Post for firing the head coach and assistant coach of his 12-year-old son’s team on the eve of its first playoff game, thus knocking them out of the postseason before it played a down, because the coaches had switched his boy from defense to offense for the final regular-season game. “Scott does not sit out on defense — ever,” Hinkle wrote in a preseason email/threat to the team’s head coach, as published by the Post. “This entire league exists so he can play defense on the best team in his weight class. ... He is my son, I own the league, and he plays every snap on defense.” (Another league invited young Scott’s team, with its original coaches, into their league playoffs.)

And you thought taking your ball and going home was limited to 6-year-olds.

Hinkle got so notorious, his conduct as commissioner overshadowed the recent marijuana and gun arrest of another budding Roger Goodell: Snoop Dogg, commissioner of the Los Angeles-area Snoop Youth Football League. Perhaps Snoop Dogg as a league executive would work well for coaches David Hendrix of Greenville, Ohio, caught in a Dayton-area drug sting, and Dan McCauley of Norwell, Mass., who stepped down after city leaders raised a squawk about his having served time for drug trafficking earlier this year.

The beauty of youth sports is that it has more camera coverage than Temple football, so you can see a lot of incidents for yourself. With a little Internet searching, you can watch as a man goes crazy over a referee’s call at a 7- and 8-year-old league game in O’Fallon, Mo., as well as watch his resolve shrivel once he gets Tasered by police. Or you can watch Stockton, Calif.’s Cory Petero, who made Romanowski into a paragon of restraint by tackling a 13-year-old boy who put a late hit on his kid. Or you can watch a fight break out in a 10-year-old league in Bakersfield, Calif., as an assistant coach shoves a referee after he deemed the referee had — in violation of league rules against refs touching players — picked up the coach’s 10-year-old son by his jersey and set him down too roughly. The brouhaha ended up involving every member of the coach’s family, including his cheerleading daughter, who all got suspended. Get some popcorn!

Youth coaches know that playing time is always a sensitive subject, leading to many parent-coach confrontations. But no confrontation was more sensitive than a late-October meeting between Wayne Derkotch and Jermaine Wilson, an assistant on a Philadelphia team in a 6- and 7-year-old league. Police allege Derkotch expressed his displeasure with his son’s playing time by pulling a .357 Magnum on Wilson. (Police said Wilson told Derkotch his kid hadn’t gone in yet because Wilson “liked to run up the score before he put in other players.” So a true jury of Derkotch’s peers — parents who’ve felt wronged by coaches — will find him not guilty before the court reporter’s seat gets warm.)

Then there are fights over end-zone celebrations that Chad Johnson wouldn’t consider. In Greenwood, Ind., a fourth-grade team from the Center Grove Bantam League All-Stars tore down the visiting Carmel All-Stars banner in the end zone to celebrate a touchdown. When Carmel parents tried to repair the torn banner, Center Grove parent Duane Lutgring interceded and tore up what was left of it. Perhaps this was the kind of child-centered leadership Lutgring had planned to bring to his local school board, had he not lost Tuesday.

Perhaps Lutgring’s nascent political career being torn up like a youth football team’s banner should give us hope that there are good people who are unwilling to put up with the junk that passes for adult supervision not only in football, but in all youth sports. I certainly hope so. I just started coaching my son’s fourth-grade basketball team.

I don’t have Dan Hinkle’s kid on my team, so that’s a good start.


Last edited by 83-Steelers-43; 11-09-2006 at 11:22 PM.
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Old 11-09-2006, 11:20 PM   #2
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Default Re: Who needs T.O.? Youth football far worse

Please delete this post. Thank you and my apologies.

Last edited by 83-Steelers-43; 11-09-2006 at 11:23 PM.
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