Parental Evil



I was 8. It was my turn at the plate. I was a scrawny right fielder who only got to play two innings a game, which was the minimum required by Little League rules at the time.

But here it was, the bottom of the fifth inning, the last inning. The game was tied, there’s a runner on third and I’m batting.

The pitcher released the ball. It’s been 25 years but what I can still remember the ball coming towards me and then seeing it rocket towards the fence off of my bat. I’d hit it, hard.

I ran nervously to first then rounded second. I saw the left fielder running to the fence to fetch the ball. I kept running until I finally crossed third base. I looked up at one of the umpires and all he said was “game.”

It was a great moment for an 8-year-old bench warmer. I had the game-winning hit. As I ran to the dugout, my coach lifted me up off the ground and into the air. The other players slapped me on the back congratulating me.

Then out of nowhere, I hear a man screaming at the umpire.

“He didn’t touch the plate!”

Apparently the opposing coach thought the runner on third didn’t step on home plate and he was therefore out, making it a tie game again. The umpire told him the runner did touch home and that he needed to go coach to pack it in. But the coach was not letting it go.


It was a shocking moment for me because in my sheltered youth, I’d never heard or seen an adult act like that. And he had to do it in what was then the only shining moment of my life.

This incident was a cornerstone of what I would see in parents as I grew up. Ordinary, good people can immediately shift to ridiculous, selfish tendencies when it comes to their children. They’ll lie on scholarship applications. They’ll cheat at kids’ sports. They’ll harass teachers to get their child a second chance at a test. They’ll call in every favor they have to get their kid into the right college.

I don’t remember my parents acting like that for the most part. Maybe they skirted the rules here and there for me but I didn’t know about it.

It raises an important question though. Why do adults advocate honesty, integrity and morality then turn right around and go against that code to protect, promote and gain advantages for their children? Here’s a good piece on the subject that got me thinking.

The yelling coach really colored my view about parents’ behavior with regards to their children’s lives. It makes you wonder that if they’re willing to bend their morality for their kids, do they bend the rules for themselves too? Are they really doing these unethical acts for their kids or for their own egos?

My guess is that most parents don’t realize they do it. Some may think that they’re doing the right thing and rationalize it because they feel their kid shouldn’t have to suffer from any type of setback. Some do realize it and they just don’t care.

Quite frankly, to me, it’s disgusting. I find it especially repugnant when they do it at the expense of another child who did nothing to deserve their destructive intervention. Acting selfish on your child’s behalf is no excuse. It’s still just as wrong as if you did it for yourself. Loving your child and wanting them to get ahead in life can’t justify abject unethical behavior.

Stand up for your kid when you need to. Confront a teacher when there’s a genuine problem. Call out a coach when they’re too hard on the team. My yelling coach? At least he got mad about the enforcement of a rule to the game. Maybe he went too far and served a bad example about how to behave but his protest was coming from the right place.

But for God’s sakes, don’t cheat, lie, steal, yell or hurt other people when you know your child is: a) in the wrong b) at fault or c) lost fairly.

Eventually my daughter will grow up and will join dance, play sports, take AP classes and the like. If she fails or if she doesn’t make varsity or if she doesn’t get a scholarship, I hope I have what it takes to let it happen and not flex my ethics to save her. She may not like it and she may hate me for it but hopefully she’ll see it’s the right thing to do.

Hopefully I will see it’s the right thing too.


Entertain Me


I love baseball. But to a point.

I’ll usually watch the first two games of the season. Maybe I’ll sit through a Saturday game here and there. And I catch some of the World Series. I’ll watch enraptured if the Yankees are in it. I hate them and enjoy seeing them lose.

When I was a kid I played Little League and then pitched out of the bullpen for my private high school. A middle reliever I liked to call myself. Actually I sat on the bench most games. I only got called in when there was little chance we’d win. The coach just didn’t want to lose by a fat margin.

Sitting through the game tonight, I also thought about the election. There’s a neck-and-neck race for the White House and here a good portion of Americans are watching a bunch of grown man slapping a ball around with a wooden stick.

It’s entertaining though.

As I get older, I am beginning to see that things like the World Series, Superbowl, American Idol, Jersey Shore and Mario Brothers really are affecting our productivity a lot more than we can tell. Hell the Internet has wasted so much of my life that if I’d invested it into writing, I would have authored a novel collection to rival Stephen King.

Marcuse. Postman. They’re right. We focus so much on mass culture that we lose sight of what’s wrong in this world. If we focused less on amusement and paid attention to poverty, politics, social reform and civil rights, things would likely be better. The Internet was created to increase communication among educators but it has since only served to be another source of distraction.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my baseball. Those memes can be funny. Bloggers do have good points once in awhile. But there’s always a nagging thought in a corner of my collective subconscious that something’s wrong with how much time we waste on unproductive culture.

Some historians argue that the beginning of the end for the Roman empire began with a rising number of colosseum games. They spent more days out of the year watching gladiators cleave appendages off each other than they did working. We need to pay attention to that, especially now that we’re in the days of cable TV, the Web and professional sports.

Our lifestyles have become unsustainable and we’re taking more from the world than it can give. It’s creating problems with people in other countries. Civil wars. Somali Pirates. Starvation. Energy shortages. It’s only going to get worse.

This is going to bite our collective asses if we don’t turn off the game once in awhile.