Doctors Without Borders

Here in the US, while many have fallen on tough times, we know that what we’re experiencing is still, in many cases, nothing compared some of the most needy parts of the world. Just like one of our favorite causes, UNICEF, Doctors Without Borders is helping children everywhere. Even a small donation makes a huge difference. Look what your contribution can do:

$35 – Two high-energy meals every day to 200 children

$50 – Vaccinations for 50 people against meningitis, measles, polio or other deadly epidemics

$100  – Infection-fighting antibiotics to treat nearly 40 wounded patients

$250 – A sterilization kit for syringes and needles used in mobile

You can review a variety of contribution options here.

Year-end soccer party time

Cleats by Bill Hinds


Are we having fun yet?

This email came across our desk from a Little League President who needed board input on a disciplinary matter. It sounds like this Board of Directors has their act together…too bad some of the parents don’t.

Hello fellow board members,

There is a situation that has come up that requires immediate board attention. I will brief you all via this email, then at the end I have the proposed actions to be taken. Please vote for the action you deem situation appropriate. Please do so ASAP. Thanks.

Here is the situation…

On Saturday past at the Major Tiger vs Red Sox game, there was a bit of a scuffle during a play at home plate in the last inning of the game. There was a runner on third base, when the batter grounded the ball back to the pitcher and took off for first base, the third base runner proceeded home to score the run. As a fielder choice play, the pitcher threw the ball to the catcher (who according to all testimonies received) clearly had the bell in PLENTY of time to tag the runner out. The runner did not attempt to avoid a home plate collision by sliding or by stopping. Some testimony states he did indeed drop his shoulder into the play, where other testimony states that was not seen. Needless to say the umpire called the runner out at home for NO OTHER REASON other than he was clearly out by the tag.

However, when the runner came in he collided with the catcher and they both hit the ground. They were entangled when they fell. The catcher (who still had the ball IN HIS HAND) attempted to get up to throw the ball to the first baseman to get the runner out at first. Because the two (catcher and runner) were entangled from the collision, the catcher was unsuccessful in his attempt to get up with out then re tripping over the runner hence stepping on his chest that was proceeded by a minor kick with the cleat. All of the actions on the catcher’s part have been deemed ACCIDENTAL and NOT INTENTIONAL at all by the officials; however, the mother of the runner (steppee) charged the fence and began to scream and yell at the officials and the catcher. She was using excessive profanity toward the situation that escalated into several other parents jumping from the bleachers as well to chime in. A coach of the steppee was coaching third base and attempted to quiet the spectator (his own wife) as well as the manager of the catcher (stepper) came out of his dug out and shouted to the mother of the steppee to please watch her language and to please calm down as there are children present and her behavior is not acceptable.

There were two board members at the game that witnessed the entire event and they quickly stepped up and defused the situation and made attempts to talk to all parties involved, with the exception of the mother of the steppee. Immediately after the play was finished she went to the dugout, pulled her son from it and ripped his shirt off screaming at the catcher and the umpire that her son had in fact been intentionally stepped on and why weren’t they going to do anything about it. She then left the field with the steppee.

The two board members never did get a chance to talk to the mother of the steppee. They did, however, talk to the home plate umpire who deemed the incident an accident. I also have received a letter of complaint from parent of the stepper, expressing her disapproval of the way the incident was (or rather was not) handled at the time it took place by all parties involved.

A meeting was held last night which included myself, the manager of both teams, the player agent, (one of the board members present & witness to the event), and the Umpire in Chief. At this meeting we discussed the situation in depth and we also came to the determination that the situation A) could have been handled differently by all parties involved B) the manager’s are going to be talking to the players involved to make sure that this is behind them.

Which brings me to the purpose of the email. The mother of the player was clearly upset at the fact her son had been stepped on and was also, looked to be, stepped on. However, her actions at the field and the profanity used by her even after she was asked by the coach (her husband), the opposing manager, and the board member present is a DIRECT VIOLATION of our “Parent Code of Conduct” which warrants disciplinary action be taken on our part as a board.

I believe the action necessary for such behavior is for the parent to be suspended from attending the next game, which is this upcoming Thursday evening.

Here’s where the vote comes in…

A) Do we want to suspend her from the next game?
B) Do we want to suspend her until she can come before the board for disciplinary review?

Please get back to me ASAP with your vote…option A or option B so we can notify the parent in plenty of time.

Thanks for your immediate attention and response regarding this matter.

WWWD – What would Wooden do?

Or in this case, what would he say?

In case you missed it, recently Kareem Abdul-Jabbar complained that a statue of himself had not been erected outside of the Lakers’ Staples Center. Columnist T.J. Simers wondered what one of Abdul-Jabbar’s mentors, John Wooden, might have said, were he still here. From Simers’ column:

There’s no argument Kareem deserves a statue, but how petty and unbecoming is it to have the model for such a statue arguing what’s the delay?

What would John Wooden have said — the question submitted to a friend?

“Goodness gracious, sakes alive, Lewis, be humble,” came the email reply, a quick check to make sure it wasn’t being sent from

“Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.”

What happens when our sports heroes fail us?

It’s bound to happen. Your son or daughter’s favorite players are discovered to be among the many who have done performance-enhancing drugs. Or, it could be they’re a cheater of a different kind – in their marriage. Perhaps they’ve joined the ignominious list of athletes who’ve been arrested for DUI, battery or other crimes. When the “heroes” our children look up to fall from grace before our eyes, what should we tell them?

According to Marianne Engle, Ph.D., Clinical Assistant Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at NYU, “Parents should help children understand that reaching star level takes a combination of extraordinary physical ability, strong ambition, good opportunities, luck and back-breaking hard work. Very few achieve this degree of prominence,” she says, “And the process doesn’t guarantee that the athlete has developed an admirable character, moral values or strategies to deal with stress. So when talking about the particular athlete, make sure to separate sports ability from character.”

In other words, sure, they can do a windmill jam, hit the ball 500 feet or make the most amazing goal you’ve ever seen, and we can all admire what they do on the field. But leave the admiration there. Remember that off the field, they’re simply people, not unlike the rest of us, who sometimes make mistakes. In every walk of life there are good people who follow rules and abide by the law, and there are others who don’t. The biggest difference being that when sports stars do something wrong, we’ll find out about it on the news.

It would be nice to believe that we could be careful when choosing the athletes our children idolize, so as to minimize the potential for disappointment. But as we’ve all learned in the past several years, even some who most seemed to have it all together have stumbled.

Unfortunately, it appears that the best course of action is to set a child’s expectation low. There have been times I’ve watched interviews of our family’s favorite players, and they came off as articulate, humble and well-intentioned. Yet I would remind my admiring kids that just because they seem like great guys in a 30-second interview doesn’t necessarily mean they are in private.

It is also important to share stories of “real” heroes to ensure that our children have the proper perspective. Two of my teenage sons recently got hooked on the “Band of Brothers” series on A &E. It was easy to point out the magnitude of what these those young soldiers did during World War II, compared to the guys they watch on Sportscenter.

So the best course of action may be preemptive. Don’t wait until your child’s idols let you down and then try to help them understand why – but rather impress upon them early that while we can cheer for athletes to help our team win, we don’t know if they’re of strong character. We can hope they are, but not depend on it.

The toughest thing to explain is how athletes can take part in unethical and illegal activities, and still live a life of wealth and opulence. How can we convince our kids what a player did really was a mistake when the next story we hear is about the multimillion dollar contract extension he just signed?

I guess it comes down to hoping our kids understand that while money and fame may be nice, there is more satisfaction in knowing you lived your life without resorting to cheating, lying, or hurting others to achieve your goals. It is about how you’ll be remembered by others and maybe more importantly, how you’ll feel about yourself.

Or, as the elegant, early 20th century sportswriter Grantland Rice wrote:
For when the One Great Scorer comes
To write against your name,
He marks-not that you won or lost-
But how you played the game.

OnDeck Newsletter goes out tomorrow

Look for the May edition of our popular OnDeck Newsletter tomorrow, May 24. If you’d like to view previous issues, or sign up to receive OnDeck directly each month, click here. There are loads of great articles in this month’s editions.

After the rapture

Another delightful and thought-provoking column from Rick Reilly in case you missed it. Thankfully, we’re all still here to read it.