Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Shuffle Along

With just three minutes to spare, the following post was pulled before being published on a local news site. Why did it need to be pulled? Because the powers-that-be in Youngest's soccer league stepped in and rectified that situation I felt could in no way be rectified.

But all is good now. Youngest is playing up an age group and is away from a very bad situation. But here is what I was all ready to say.

My youngest son loves a sport beyond belief. I’ll call that sport “shuffleboard.” He is in his fifth year of playing shuffleboard. He plays shuffleboard whenever he can, including seemingly non-stop against the house, at practice, at matches, on the high school shuffleboard court with his dad, at recess and lunch at school, after school with his friends, and in the mornings when we take the dog to the field near a shuffleboard court. He watches shuffleboard matches with his dad, rooting for his dad’s favorite team. He subscribes to shuffleboard magazines. He knows the names of all the best professional shuffleboard players.

He wanted to play competitive shuffleboard last year, but we weren’t ready to take on that financial and time commitment of having him travel all over northern California. We had also heard horror stories about the shuffling of parents off the shuffleboard court. But he is shuffleboard-mad, so we took the plunge this year, and he made the top team for his age group. He was the only player new to the world of competitive shuffleboard to make the A team.

There have been many incidents in his time on the competitive shuffleboard team that have had my husband and me regretting the decision.

When I was fired as manager by the coach after I had done all the scut work of organizing kids’ birth certificates and forms and payments and photos and held an extremely contentious meeting between A team parents and B team parents. Why was I fired? Because I went to the shuffleboard league to complain about how carryover funds from two years prior were being distributed.

When we heard how the coach yelled at nine-year-old boys when the team was losing, during matches, singling out boys and screaming such good-sportsman-like statements such as “Get the Goddamned shuffleboard thingie.”

When we saw no rhyme or reason to how much time some boys played and some did not, musing that perhaps it had more to do with the coach’s relationships with some parents.

When we heard how the coach yelled at referees when a call was missed or the coach disagreed with the call.

When I found myself sitting on the side of the shuffleboard court with the opposing team’s parents because I was embarrassed at how he sounded.

When he began substituting players every two to three minutes during 25-minute halves, oftentimes barely letting a boy warm-up on the shuffleboard court before yanking him.

When we heard following Saturday’s match that his 15-minute post-match “pep talk” included the use of obscenities and threats to move boys down to the B team.

He called Sunday night and said he was moving my son down to the B team, to give him more play time, he said. My husband spoke succinctly and brilliantly to him. I had listened in on the call and when I had had enough, I called the coach a couple of obscenities. I obviously get my good sportsmanship from the same place the coach does.

We have paid about $250 in registration fees, another $1,100 in team fees, another $235 for the uniform and equipment, and another $150 for our portion of tournament fees. We have paid plenty more in getting the kid to and from practices and games. The first true game of the season was Saturday. The team lost 3-0. Of the 13 boys on the shuffleboard team, perhaps two played well. My son was not one of those two players.

There are no refunds. That’s the rule one agrees to when one signs a kid up for a competitive shuffleboard team.

That’s a hard-and-fast rule, apparently, unlike the rule that says a coach can only stay with the same team for two years. The coach of my son’s shuffleboard team is on his third year of coaching the same team.

Unlike the rule that says every family has to contribute at least six hours of volunteer time or the kid doesn’t play.

And unlike the rule that says the family who has the team shuffleboard equipment for game days is not able to sell it all on Craigslist when their kid gets kicked off the team.

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