Thursday, October 8, 2009

What Me, Blacklisted?

If you read my post at DadCentric Tuesday, you know that I overexerted myself a bit the other week at my kids' soccer practices. (If you didn't read it, click over to "Kids are a Pain" now. I'll wait.)

The irony of this is that I'm not supposed to be coaching soccer at all this season. I was blacklisted by the league.

My crime? Verbal abuse of the referees? Climbing into the stands to hit a parent? Putting steroids in the halftime juice boxes?

Nope. I had a few choice exchanges with the league's directors last year and I used some inappropriate words.

They were "50 percent refund."

Three of the seven games my daughter's team played one season were won by forfeit because the other team didn't have enough players show. The eighth game, for the championship, was canceled because the league assigned someone else to our field. So, being the accountant's son that I am, I asked the league to give my team's parents half their money back.

I e-mailed them three times with my request before someone finally responded. That was only after I might have casually mentioned calling the city parks department and team sponsors about reconsidering their support for the league.

Anyway, six minutes after I hit the "send" button on the third missive, my phone rang.

It was an enlightening discussion that went something like this:

LEAGUE BIGWIG: We don't refund money to players. They're children.

ME: Good thing. They'd probably spend it on cheap whiskey, angel dust and chicken nuggets. That's why I requested you refund my players' parents. It's in the e-mail. All three of them.

LEAGUE BIGWIG: You said your last game was a playoff. That age bracket isn't supposed to have playoffs.

ME: I don't care what you call it. It was a game on the schedule you gave us that wasn't played because of your scheduling mistake.

LEAGUE BIGWIG: But it wasn't a playoff. That league is not supposed to have playoffs.

ME: Whatever. I had one parent cut a weekend trip short to bring their kid to a game that didn't occur because a schedule you issued us three months ago was wrong.

LEAGUE BIGWIG: But it wasn't a playoff.

My favorite part of this whole conversation (apart from some inevitable cussing on my part because, alas, I can only stand so much stupid) was being lectured about this being a not-for-profit league run by volunteers and the importance of being involved, not just as a mere coach of two teams (as I was) but as a league commissioner, an executive director or eventually the head of ACORN.

This came right before Bigwig told me I was NOT invited to attend the board meeting at which my request was being discussed.

I volunteered to show up anyway. He couldn't see the irony past his iron fist.

As expected, my request was denied. So, I let it drop and moved on, coaching two teams for another season without incident.

Then, when the league issued its autumn rosters, the Things received their team assignments but I was not a coach for either team even though I volunteered (remember that word) to run one team and assist with the other.

I figured maybe they actually had enough coaches, though that would have been a first in my two years in the league. Call me skeptical. I made a few calls just to be sure.

"Man, I didn't want to tell you this," said my assistant from a previous season. "They called me and drafted me to run a team. I told them I was only planning on being your assistant again this year. Then they said you weren't being allowed to coach a team this year because of some incident you had over the winter."

My response to this. I volunteered. Directly -- to both my kids' coaches. They both welcomed the added help. In fact, I "officially" was promoted to co-coach of one team because the other coach travels for business frequently.

Part of my new coaching duties is to introduce myself to the refs before every game, make small talk with them and compliment their outstanding officiating skills. By doing this, they always come to me when the game ends and hand me a special slip of paper.

It's their pay sheet for the league.

I make certain I print and sign my name in very large, legible bold letters.


  1. I love the conversation w/bigwig where you wrote you could only take so much stupid! Exactly! I've a hunch you're a terrific coach!

  2. Wow that BigWig probably crafted one of the most sound arguements I have ever read in my life. Unbelievably. I'd totally make sure my name was written in indelible marker.

  3. From my experience with Soccer Leagues, the BigWig tends to be a paralegal in real life!

  4. Interesting insight into the seedy underbelly of youth sports leagues. Soccer is a walk in the park compared to the old boy nepotism of little league around here.
    By the way, my son is having a great time this season, so thanks!

  5. Badass.
    BigWig sounds like a dick.
    (Looks like I can also only stand so much stupid. Even vicariously.)

  6. My kids have thankfully replaced "recreational" sports leagues with high school debate. I'm pretty sure Big Wig was once a JV high school debater using the time honored tactic of trying to changed the argument with stupid used by clueless and unprepared debaters every weekend. I know because so far I haven't been blacklisted from judging debate rounds. Probably only because they are so desperate.

  7. Wow. Your argument makes sense, and can I just say how much I despise Rec leagues of any sort? The "board members" are usually all assholes who are all about their own kids and it evolves into a crapload of politics and nothing more.

    Whew! Glad I got that off my chest.

  8. NOTE: If any league officials are reading this, please note that my readers are calling you these names.

    I'm only enjoying them doing so.

  9. As I read your DadCentric post yesterday, I did think, "Well, these injuries are going to keep him out of the soccer coaching racket for the season," but I didn't want to open a new wound by asking, so thanks for clearing this up. It's this kind of thing that makes me happy to have no knowledge of team sports at all. I've had to remind the Y basketball coach - also a volunteer - of this fact when he calls the house asking if my husband or I can coach while he's out of town. Half the time, I'm only cheering on the sidelines because every other parent of a kid on my sons' basketball team is doing so, so I play along.

  10. One of the great joys of youth soccer is the inevitability of getting nailed in the groin, either by a ball or by a fast-moving cleat.

    I'd hate to see something like that happen to a League Bigwig.

  11. WOW, my city league would be ecstatic to have any parent volunteer! Your city seems a little more uptight about the whole thing!

    I don't see why your argument should get their panties in a bunch? Makes sense, seems like a logical request?

    Logical is the key word in this comment!

    It all seems over dramatic for kids city sports to me!?

    But your "ha! In your face" approach is funny! And that is all that matters!

  12. If there's any chance you want to move to Danville, Illinois, where the soccer is exceptional, the behavior is sportsmanlike, and the games (for all 56 teams) always run impeccably according to schedule, we would only be too happy to have you.

    And you can get all the f---in chicken nuggets you can hold, my friend. (Because I know that's what you cussed about. It was the nuggets, wasn't it?)

    As for the BigWigs, if they would be more willing to accept help from intelligent people, maybe the league wouldn't have problems.

    ... just sayin'.

    - Julia at Midwest Moms

  13. I should find this exchange surprising, but nothing in this town surprises me anymore.

    Just makes me wonder what they do with the league fees since they won't refund them when the kids actually getting screwed out of being able to play the game because of their incompetence.

  14. I don't want to believe that kids sports leagues are that political, but I know they are. Mine are just getting into sports and I'm hoping to avoid something like this.

    I think you said it all when you mentioned the ACORN tie in. And at least you're blacklisted for a good cause. You're a modern day John Hancock with those signatures on the ref sheets. I love rebels.

  15. But it wasn't a playoff!! See? If it HAD been you would have not gotten your money back..Oh wait, you didn't anyway.

    I love kid's sports, I do. But I wouldn't be a coach if it was a paying position. Little Man's FB coach isn't coaching next year because instead of coming to him, parents on the team emailed their "concerns" to the commish. Nice. He's a great coach, too, that's what REALLY sucks.

  16. So looking forward to being a soccer mom and dealing with BIGWIGS like that...At least I'll have your blog as a reference.

  17. I have found that most Volunteer BigWigs sat the bench in High School and are now trying to relive their glory days (translation: take out their suppressed frustration on others).

    On a positive note, try M&M's and Jolt at halftime for that "comeback" during 2nd half.

  18. Damn.
    I swear, the school sports gaggle is run by a bunch of self righteous ya-hoos.
    Playoff schmayoff.

  19. What kind of inane person just keeps repeating a phrase that has no bearing on the conversation? An inane idiot, no doubt.

  20. Do you live in my town? This sounds a lot like the idiocy we deal with in our soccer league!

  21. My God, what happened to the league this year? We're having all kinds of wacky stupid, and I know of at least three parents who pulled their kids as a result.

  22. You are my kind of dude. I hate having illogical arguments with city officials but I absolutely love buying their names as domain names SEOing them to the top of google with all the relevant illogical tid-bits that they vomited up :-)

  23. It cracks me up that you have slid in under the radar to still "volunteer". I LOVE that you sign the refs papers. How long before "BigWig" notices???

  24. How do you handle the politics without pooping in someone's shoes. That's what I want to know. ;o)

  25. I guess it's okay to verbally harrass the coaches and refs - and to publically humiliate your kids...but ask for a refund??? No way - yer outta here!

  26. seeing as it is friday (like that matters) i just bought you a beer. because i feels your pain and also kind of want to beat someone up.

    but seeing as you are in ANOTHER STATE, i drank the beer myself and will just say, oh kevin, i feels your pain.


  27. This story is amazing! You are a great writer!

    Check out my blog, I just got into this whole world!

  28. I just love your attitude! It's amazing that you just didn't chuck the whole thing, instead you still volunteered even after the conversation with BigWig. I'm going to borrow your "I can only put up with so much stupid" next time someone steps on my last nerve with their stupidity.
    I'm so glad you can print your name in large, bold letters. BigWig probably has to swallow the acid in his stomach. Good for you!

  29. wow ... Mr. Bigwig sounds a little like a broken record. (mimics but that league isn't supposed to have playoffs, wah wah wah) What a doofus.

    So who's writing the checks then?

    Blessings :)

  30. Wow. I wonder if it's painful for people like that to be so damn petty or if it just comes natural.


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