King Rex Loves The Cats, But Some Fans Don’t Get It Sunday, Apr 6 2014 

How is there so much controversy over the TV call of the Kentucky – Wisconsin game?

Screen Shot 2014-04-06 at 1.32.57 PM

Rex Chapman is a homer

Apparently because, despite ample notice given that there would be three “game casts” — one for each team and one with un-biased announcers — a lot of idiots (Charles Barkley’s word) lit up Twitter complaining that Rex Chapman and crew were homer-ing it up for the kids from Texas wearing blue uniforms.

That’s right — uninformed sports fans, rather than taking the trouble to actually listen, or, even better, check the Internet to find out why King Rex was calling the game on TNT, simply started posting ignorant tweets (“This one announcer on TNT is so biased for Kentucky and it’s getting really annoying.“) The experiment, which will likely be considered a success by the suits who decide such things, gave fans the opportunity to hear the game called by announcers with an obvious bias — meaning that Chapman, along with Rob Bromley and Dave Baker, argued that every questionable call should have done UK’s way and got really excited when the ball bounced Blue.

Now, Chapman happens to be my favorite college basketball player of all time (he’s actually tied with Darrell Griffith, but I saw Rex’s two years at UK from press row at Rupp Arena), so I thought his cheerleading was kind of cool. No, I couldn’t stand to listen more than once. Nice experiment, and maybe we could find Rex some sort of job commenting with Kentucky Sports Radio, but only really big UK fans would want to listen to such one-sided game descriptions every game.

It was like hearing Bill O’Reilly analyze a Mitch McConnell speech.

Anyway, in the end, Kentucky won and is playing Monday in the title game. That’s good news for the Commonwealth, so cheer ‘em on, even if you’re a Cardinal fan.

Monday night, we’ll be back to normal, with the 9 p.m. national championship tilt on CBS (which makes execs at WLKY-TV very happy) and no homer broadcasting, unless you choose to listen on radio.

Cultural Differences, and Plentiful Options, in the ‘Ville Monday, Mar 24 2014 

Among the reasons I really enjoy doing the Rusty Satellite Show is the opportunity to learn a little about a lot of things from the rich roster of guests I have been able to convince to spend 15 minutes talking about themselves.  In every case, I learn something form the conversation, and I hope you do too.

It would be hard not to get something worthwhile from my talks this time with Tim Koons McGee and Steve Wiser. Koons McGee’s ambitious plans for the four-year-old Comfy Cow, which include becoming a national brand, was news to me. I just called him because I wanted to know about the new store at Eastern Parkway and Bardstown Road, and maybe get a free scoop of ice cream.  I also got a relevant opinion on same-sex marriage from someone actually affected by the much-debated topic.

Wiser is one of those guys with a vast amount of local knowledge, which made 12 minutes really insufficient to get all my questions answered about local architecture.  But if you listen you’ll find out about the renovation of a long-anticipated restoration project and what could really be a cool change to downtown.

LISTEN TO THE NEW RUSTY SATELLITE SHOW HERE

And I got to talk about seeing one of my cultural heroes, the hilarious Dave Barry, at the downtown library last week. It motivated me to check out his book “Lunatics” and recall how much fun I still have with my son Josh talking about the movie “Big Trouble” based on Dave’s hilarious first novel.

Which got me to thinking about the culture available around here, like seeing Barry (or Matt Taibbi, coming soon) at the library, a rich resource where I’ve built my music collection and keep finding books I want to read (Nick Hornby’s “Slam“). Maybe I’m just itching to get out, but it’s great I have options like the upcoming shows by Lyle Lovett and (just announced) Elvis Costello. Not to mention events I’ve actually bought tickets for, including Billy Joel at the Yum! Center and the Book of Mormon at the Kentucky Center. I’ve written about how great the Humana Festival is.

There is certainly a lot to choose from to keep your mind occupied. I mentioned a few media stories on the show last week — how Mitch McConnell dissed a LEO reporter, how the University of Louisville is paying hush money to former employees, how a court sided with newspapers in a battle with the state over releasing records to the public. So it was fitting that I finally got to the end of a memorable binge watch — five seasons of the HBO series “The Wire.” which concluded with a long piece about the media’s effects on life in a big city. I highly recommend it, even if it’s already dated (pagers).

Something for everyone, of course. But everyone around here is talking about a basketball game scheduled for this Friday in Indianapolis. I can handle respectful differences of opinion, even if I don’t agree with your point of view (like if you agree with Sarah Palin, who thinks the missing Malaysian jet may have been snatched up into heaven by God, according to fake news reports).

As for the game, I think we should all take a deep breath, turn off talk radio and stop reading our Facebook news feeds. Let’s use the game as an excuse to have a beer with our friends. Let’s not surround ourselves with the negative energy we’re feeling toward people who think the 20-year-olds they’re cheering for in a basketball game are superior to the 20-year-olds in different uniforms you’re cheering for.  If you only read one piece on the game, read this one by former Rusty guest Mark Coomes. And if our team loses, let’s become the best fans of our home state team, even if we can’t stand the behavior of some of their fans.

Dave Barry at the Library Architect Steve Wiser Tim Koons McGee at the Comfy Cow

 

 

Bracket Distractions — Arts and Business and Politics Sunday, Mar 16 2014 

It’s always good to have some friends who don’t pay attention to the same things you do — it offers perspective. What’s important to you (whether U of  L will be a #2 seed or #3 seed in the NCAA bracket) is like speaking a foreign language, I’m guessing, to someone like Les Waters, the artistic director at Actors’ Theatre and my guest on the Rusty Satellite Show this week.

LISTEN TO THE RUSTY SATELLITE SHOW HERE

 

On the other hand, I suspect that my other guest, El Toro exec Stacy Griggs, can probably tell you how many points Russ Smith got (42) against Houston in the AAC Tournament. I asked neither Les or Stacy about basketball, so I’m guessing here. We all seem to know a lot about something, which is what makes finding guests for the Rusty show kinda fun.

When I was the editor of the NCAA Basketball Championship game programs, for instance, I knew the names of the head coaches and the nicknames of every Division I team. When I was syndicating a TV show to stations across the country, I knew the call letters and network affiliation of every station in the U.S.  At WKU 30 years ago, I learned a lot about constellations (those 3 stars in a row are Orion’s belt). There are a lot of experts on college basketball, or at least you would think so, if you listen to local talk radio or watch ESPN.

But being able to talk with authority about the Blue Jays (Creighton) and Shockers (Wichita State, the only unbeaten team going into the tourney) won’t help you fill out your brackets with accuracy. That’s what makes it fun.  Remember that you are as likely to pick a 14 seed upsetting a 3 seed as Digger Phelps. And none of those so-called experts will pick a perfect bracket (even with a billion dollars on the line).

I know that memorizing lists of trivial knowledge is great for impressing folks at cocktail parties. That’s because I used to recite Kentucky Derby winners that I memorized by studying Derby glasses. Attorney general Jack Conway knows the same trick.

Which is all to say that even though a LOT of people are focused today on the NCAA Final Four tournament field, I know several who wouldn’t recognize Rick Pitino if they saw him in line at a drug store (which I’ve done, btw).

I am among those interested in the tournament, though, and will be running a bracket contest at work, like a lot you will be. And having watched Pitino’s team all season, I don’t see the Cards losing short of the Final Four. It may be the most fun-to-watch group ever assembled around here, or anywhere. After winning the AAC title, Pitino told a TV audience he thinks his team should be a #1 seed, and the world of basketball watchers learned a new term — Pitino and the pundits now love saying the Cards passed the “eye test” (C-J headline: “Pitino’s pupils should pass NCAA eye test”).

Next Thursday and Friday, when U of L and UK will play their first-round games, Louisville viewers will find ways to tune in and make our city #1 in the country — for TV sets tuned to hoops. Office productivity will hit a low that won’t be matched until Oaks Day, and you’ll still have hope that you can win that office bracket pool, even if you had Arizona going all the way and they lose to Siena.

I’m rambling, I know, perhaps thinking of Dave Barry’s appearance at the Library Wednesday night. But here are the top stories, outside of basketball, discussed on the Rusty show this week:

Omni Hotel Downtown — The Omni could transform downtown, and is reason for optimism — bringing a long-needed grocery downtown along with the luxury rooms and apartments. The downside — a key player is the Cordish Cos., which was central to a huge scandal over a loan from the city at Fourth Street Live! a few years back. The block – between 2nd and 3rd and Ali and Liberty — was once talked about as the ideal place for what became the Yum! Center. Let’s credit Mayor Fischer (for now) for bringing it all together.

Among other things state lawmakers won’t accomplish is a smoking ban –  the list of ideas that aren’t getting done include casino gambling, local option sales tax, hemp, and marijuana legalization. The state session has produced plenty of talk about guns in bars, guns in schools, abortion restrictions and whether Kentucky students should be taught science or creationism.

Republicans Courting African-Americans – I’d compare Kentucky Republicans courting votes in the West End to sending Obama supporters to Leslie County in the eastern Kentucky coalfields. (Obama got 8.75% of the 2012 vote there). But Rand Paul’s support of voting rights for convicted felons and other key issues important to African-Americans could sway some votes there.

For next week — Former Rusty guest and C-J editor Neil Budde would be glad to know I took the paper up on a limited-time-free offer and read three stories making news this week — Joe Gerth’s column correctly points out that Jack Conway is not required by law to appeal that same-sex marriage ruling, and he blasts (without saying his name) WDRB’s Bill Lamb for “huffing” about it. U of L’s administration has taken to paying off former employees with lavish, and undeserved, payoffs simply to keep their mouths shut. And a special report reveals that Kentucky’s drug abuse problem, as it relates to babies being born addicted to drugs, is exploding. Few in our city will find sympathy for the two women profiled in Laura Ungar’s piece — both pregnant with multiple children born with their mothers’ addictions.

Let’s watch some hoops! Les Waters of Actors' Theatre El Toro's Stacy Griggs

 

Raving on Rusty #36: Shoni Schimmel, Dawn Yankeelov and an Update on Karen Faulkner Saturday, Mar 1 2014 

The Rusty Satellite Show is mostly a labor of love for me. I am grateful that Passport Health Plan sponsors the show, but my motivation is really tied to the fact that the show gives me an opportunity to meet and talk with some really cool local people and also to air my opinions about things. So this was a really great week.

LISTEN TO THE RUSTY SATELLITE SHOW HERE

The first time I became aware of Shoni Schimmel was her freshman year, the first that the Yum! Center was open, and I took my son Luke to a few games because we couldn’t get tickets for the men’s games. Watching Shoni dribble and shoot was pure entertainment. Luke and I went to several games, in which we didn’t really watch the game, but watched Shoni — how she moved without the ball to get open, how she would shoot it under any circumstance, how she made the difficult and risky pass, how even then she was the emotional leader of the team.

Dawn Yankeelov Shoni Schimmel

Since then, of course, she’s scored more than 2,000 points and become a national figure in the game. Not only that, but she’s an engaging and outgoing personality who has attracted the attention of Native Americans across the U.S. So it was a bit of a thrill to have her on the Rusty Satellite Show the week of her final regular season game Monday at the Yum! Center. You should go. The few tickets left are just $5.

Talking with Dawn Yankeelov after a trip to D.C., in which she led a team to talk technology with John Yarmuth and Mitch McConnell was equally cool. Of course, I’ve known Dawn for many years, going back to my Business First days, where she preceded me as a reporter.

In the News:  You should go Monday to Insider Louisville’s Meetup at Vincenzo’s, where you can hear more of the logical reasons we should have casino gaming in Kentucky from Johnathan Blue, a leader of the Kentucky Wins! campaign. But I pointed out on Rusty that stories like the one in which Mayor Fischer talked about a casino going downtown just don’t matter until the neanderthals in Frankfort pull their heads out of the sand and vote for gaming.

Once I posted my opinion about Bill Clinton coming to town, that Clinton’s popularity seems to really get under Republicans’ skin, I got a reaction on Twitter that proves my point:  Clinton committed a felony, he lied under oath. Did that while he was Prez. Does that qualify as dishonest?  

Kentucky is 49th in a health ranking, which is not really news.

I hope you get a chance to attend at least one of the performances in the Humana Festival of New American Plays. I’ll have a review of “Partners” that I attended Friday night soon here on LouisvilleKY.com.

THE UPDATE:  You may remember that a week ago one of my guests was Karen Faulkner, who found herself and her campaign in the news this week. Faulkner’s opponent in the May election for Jefferson County Attorney, incumbent Mike O’Connell, seems to have decided the time is right to go after one of her main supporters, Metro Council member David James (another ex-Rusty Satellite guest). O’Connell found an obscure rule that says James can’t be a sworn U of L police officer and a sworn Metro Council member at the same time. O’Connell’s political ploy here is pretty obvious to insiders,  as Faulkner told WFPL.

 

Ashley Miller and Chuck Kaplan Stop at the Satellite Saturday, Feb 1 2014 

Rusty gets political this week with a promising Democrat, Ashley Miller, who’s running for the District 32 State House seat. She’s certainly got a lot going for her — former beauty queen from the West End, a nurse practitioner who is taking boxing lessons in her spare time. And she’s only 30.  As you’ll hear, Ashley knows the political language and has the backing of local Democrats, so it’ll be interesting to see how her race develops.

Guest 2 is the always entertaining C.D. (Chuck) Kaplan, who’s well-known around these parts for his take on movies, sports, media, music, history and well, we got his take on this year’s Super Bowl.

RUSTY SATELLITE SHOW LINK

In between, I tackle my Top Five news stories — the battle over gaming in Kentucky that illustrates why we can’t have nice things; a quick take on the Metro Council elections now that the candidate deadline has passed; Governor Beshear’s “mind-boggling” trip to see the President’s State of the Union address; the death of a local newspaper and my Super Bowl prediction. It’s all in another great edition of the Rusty Satellite Show.

 

rs31AshleyMiller RS31Kaplan

Bring on Bobby Baby Wednesday, Jan 8 2014 

Everyone’s got an opinion on Bobby Petrino, but no one can argue the man’s ability to coach football. And that’s why he’s being re-introduced to the community to carry on the University of Louisville’s football tradition.

One thing that hasn’t changed is his ability of motivate young men to move a football into an end zone. Remember the ritual of fans getting angry at Bobby for having his offense take a knee in an opponents’ red zone with a 40-point lead? I do. He won 41 of 50 games in four years, a dropped interception away from a potential national championship. That brand of football was not only a winner, but it was fun to watch, much more so than cheering 3-point wins against Memphis under Charlie Strong.

And while a minority of U of L fans object to the hire on moral grounds, this news must be disheartening up in Lexington. Given the chance to hire Petrino last year, UK took the safe route and found a coordinator at a top school. Mark Stoops may eventually get UK back to the point it can win 5 or 6 games a season, he’s unlikely to beat a high-powered Cardinal attack headed by the innovative Petrino, who proved last year in Nashville that he could take average players (from Western Kentucky) and whoop the Cats soundly.  He never had a problem beating the Cats when he was here.

Let’s not cast stones at Petrino as if he were the first talented coach with a character flaw. Give Jurich credit – he stuck by Rick Pitino through a horrid scandal, from which The Rick produced the most successful run in Cardinal basketball history. In Lexington, fans overlooked the taint of teams John Calipari coached having their records deleted from the NCAA record books.  As Mark Coomes pointed out at Insider Louisville, “There are no vestal virgins in the bordello of college sports. Some are purer than others, but it’s mostly a matter of degree. And revelation.”

Thursday’s press conference, in which Petrino is expected to be announced as the coach, will create a mass of media coverage unlike anything we’ve seen. Already, sports radio talk shows have stretched their hours to become almost 24/7, just trying to give everyone with an opinion and a telephone a chance to get their two cents in. If you’re Facebook and Twitter feeds aren’t lit up by Petrino news, you’re just not connected to the pulse of the city.

Last year, when Petrino was hired at my alma mater, WKU, some loyal fans were angry right up to the first touchdown scored against Kentucky in Nashville. Critics will be heard this time, too, but the CardNation fan base is primed for a long run of prosperity with Petrino at the helm.

The bottom line is that Bobby is the best candidate for the job, uniquely qualified to keep the Ws coming, and Jurich is one of the few A.D.s in the country with the guts to hire him.

HERE’S MY AUDIO TAKE ON THE ISSUE, ALONG WITH INTERVIEWS WITH BOB SOKOLER AND JOHN WITTEN. ON THE RUSTY SATELLITE SHOW

New Bourbonism and Other Topics as a City Waits, and Waits Saturday, Jan 4 2014 

This week, I managed to sneak into the Mayor’s office for 15 minutes with Greg Fischer.  Here’s a link to our interview.

RUSTY SATELLITE SHOW INTERVIEW WITH GREG FISCHER

As you’ll hear, Fischer’s biggest obstacle is getting Frankfort to adopt a local option sales tax. This LIFT initiative he’s been pushing a long time, but the boneheads in Frankfort are still unlikely to pass it. Fischer explains it in a way that makes perfect sense, pointing to Oklahoma City as the type of conservative town that’s been using this form of fund-raising for pet projects for years. They have an NBA team there.

RRwithMayorFischercropped

Fischer points out that it’s simply giving voters an option to vote for a tax for specific projects. And we know (remember the library tax vote?) that citizens are unlikely to vote to tax themselves. But opponents, especially Frankfort Republicans, see it as a TAX, something to be defeated at all costs. The misinformation is overwhelming, and as Fischer told me, ”We need the media to get the facts out. We need to be like winners.”

On a lighter note, Fischer told me how much fun it is to talk about bourbon all the time as an economic development issue. Listen in.

MEDIA MOVES: As opposed to my days as a full-time media critic, these days I learn about personnel changes on social media. That’s where I found out that RS guest Adam Lefkoe is leaving WHAS-TV and Louisville for the bright lights of New York City, where he’s got a new post at Bleacher Report. We’ll miss those name-dropping sportscasts. Also there are some long-time staffers leaving Business First. John Karman, the last remaining reporter that was there when I left in 1999, got himself hired by RS guest Mark Hebert at the University of Louisville. And managing editor Carolyn Greer, who’s been there 22 years, has resigned there.

STRONG-WATCH: It’s Saturday afternoon, and the city seems to be holding its collective breath, and not just in anticipation of some weather. At this moment, it appears Charlie Strong has a job offer from Texas, but hasn’t yet accepted it, may be waiting to talk to Tom Jurich about it, but Jurich is stuck in Colorado due to weather, and the entire sports universe is on hold. Every other Twitter post on my feed seems to be about the Strong situation. I’ve seen a t-shirt designed with the words “StrongHorns” on it, so the marketing is there. And those looking ahead are already speculating on whether Jurich will tap Bobby Petrino to come back to the ‘ville. Wouldn’t that be cool?

I’D LOVE TO COVER THIS: Bill Nye is coming to Kentucky to debate the loony tune who founded the creation museum. Now, the debate won’t solve anything — everyone with an opinion on science vs. religion as it relates to the creation of the planet is all mind-made-up. I suspect Ken Ham will fill his facility with creationist believers, so Nye may be walking into a lion’s den. But I’ll take the Science Guy.

LITTLE GUY WINS LIQUOR BATTLE: I remember reporting on a Shelbyville Road battle between liquor stores in 2009. I remember Greg Anastas, owner of Beverage Warehouse, telling me the story of how the bad-ass Liquor Barn opening across the street was violating another of Kentucky’s archaic liquor laws, this one stipulating a specific distance one store must be from the other. Well, after four years, Anastas has won a key battle and the huge Liquor Barn may have to shut down.

SMOKE WARS: I’m not naive enough to think that Kentucky, which has the highest percentage of smokers (29%) of any state, will pass a statewide smoking ban. But a poll out this week showed that a higher-than-ever percentage of us (65%) support such a ban.

Louisville Basketball falls to Kentucky Sunday, Dec 29 2013 

Louisville Digital marketing expert Jason Smith and Mothrezl HarrellThe University of Louisville basketball team were outplayed by Kentucky yesterday – particularly up front, and U of L power forward Montrezl Harrell didn’t have his A-game. “They just outworked us, they outhustled us to every loose ball and they played like they wanted to win the game and we didn’t,” the sophomore Motrezl said in a somber locker room after the No. 6 Cardinals fell to the No. 18 Wildcats 73-66 on Saturday in Rupp Arena.

The Cards (11-2) got good offensive production from their guards in hanging close to UK (10-3), but a lack of production from the forwards and centers led to their undoing. Louisville got only 16 points combined from their starters:- Harrell, Mangok Mathiang and Wayne Blackshear and their backups Chane Behanan as well as Stephan Van Treese. The Louisville Cards, shorter at every position than the Kentucky Cats, lost the rebounding battle 44-36, their largest deficit this season. UK had a 17-12 edge in offensive rebounds and outscored U of L 17-6 on second-chance points.

Guards Russ Smith (19 points) and Chris Jones (18) helped the Louisville Cards take a 52-51 lead with 11:01 to play. Smith, Jones and wing player Luke Hancock, who played 28 minutes while Blackshear dealt with foul trouble, took 44 of U of L’s 58 shots for an offense that never seemed to find a rhythm and hit only 39.7 percent.

Montrezl Harrell  above is pictured with Louisville Digital Marketing expert Jason Smith

A Better-Than-Ever Kind of Year Thursday, Dec 26 2013 

I found out on Facebook that I had a pretty big year in 2013. I was reviewing the posts there, and in its social media wisdom the site lists the posts that got the most attention.

People generally try to be nice. I got a ton of sympathy in May when I had knee surgery and, since there was a lot of sitting around in front of the computer involved, put up several posts about the ordeal. One got 47 Likes.  The doctor did miraculous work on me and I was on the road to recovery in no time, in fact riding my bike in the Mayor’s Memorial Day Ride less than two weeks after. Still, I wasn’t some 22-year-old jock, and recovery was difficult, especially taking off from racquetball for the better part of six months. Today I’m playing as hard as ever, but have to admit to being a step slow and less mobile. Yes, older.

But it’s great to be doing so.

The biggest 2013 surprise was that I started doing a weekly podcast that followers of my social media life know as The Rusty Satellite Show. I had no idea when Dan Vonderheide called me last summer that I’d eventually get up to 27 shows, 54 conversations with the “Most Interesting People in the ‘Ville”, get a great sponsor in Passport Health Plans and even get some t-shirts done.

But my followers on social media are certainly more likely to respond to posts about my sons or an occasional story in Insider Louisville. Or, of course, my love life.

Take note — I make it a policy not to write about this publicly. The one time I discussed it on my podcast, it prompted an angry comment from someone I don’t know whose opinion was that I was “an idiot and a jerk.” Ouch. But maybe the highlight of the year. In July I met someone who seems to enjoy my company, and now I’m pretty happy in that area, so there’s no more online dating, singles parties or awkward “Let’s meet for a drink” moments.

So 2013, you’ve been great to me, a lot better than 2012, or 2011, or 2010….you get the idea. Here’s to more in 2014.

On this week’s Rusty Satellite Show, I talk with Mark Coomes of Insider Louisville about the big weekend for Cardinal faithful. And because it helps to think of something sunny, I asked John Ashton to come in and talk up some golf.

Me and My Three Sons Weekend Golf Guy John Ashton Sportswriter Mark Coomes

Are Kids Playing Sports Having Fun Yet? Friday, Dec 13 2013 

TO HEAR MY THOUGHTS ON THIS TOPIC ON THE RUSTY SATELLITE SHOW, CLICK HERE

There are many wonderful things about youth sports. Parental involvement is often not one of them.

In a roundtable discussion after his new HBO documentary, Trophy Kids, producer Peter Berg, 51, talks about his own childhood playing unorganized football on playgrounds. Just kids, no adults.

The Berg documentary, along with a story in the New York Times about obsessive basketball mothers in Kentucky, illustrate everything that’s wrong with organized sports.

trophykids640

I grew  up in the South End playing every sport, every season, in the playground across the street at St. Thomas More, or in the alley behind my house. Or anywhere there was an open field. There were always a dozen or so of us, scrambling to find a ball, and gloves and bats. We chose up sides, and played for hours and hours and hours, usually until my Mom yelled out the back door that it was time to come in.

There were no helmets, of course, or any other safety equipment. We did the kind of things that would make modern parents shudder, like climbing on the roof of a 3-story building to fetch a baseball, or sneaking into a gym through an unlocked window to shoot hoops. We learned the rules, and sportsmanship, on the field. When somebody skinned a knee, they shook it off, rubbed it with dirt, and kept playing.

I know we can’t go back to giving our kids that kind of childhood sports experience. If kids are playing a sport today, almost all the games they play are in uniforms in organized leagues. That, in itself, is not a bad thing.

The point is that parents, whether living their lives through their kids’ activities, or simply over-involving themselves in kids’ games and practices, often do more harm than good. When pushed too hard, a lot of kids quit their sport. Many burn out at 13.

Or they practice obsessively, only to discover that their talent will only take them so far. They end up choosing a college based not an academics or location or cost, but on being able to continue playing a sport.

Berg mentions the controversial premise of Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Outliers” in which Gladwell presents evidence that superior athletes practice 10,000 hours. While there’s some truth in that for the very successful, Berg makes the point it gave thousands of parents incentive to drive kids to practice constantly.

In Trophy Kids, four examples showcase parents who demean their kids, who embarrass them at games, who drive their kids away from the parent and the sport, all in a quest to earn a college scholarship. It’s a small sampling, but none resulted in phenomenally successful athletes. One earned a Div. II scholarship, another moved away from his critical father.

This woman profiled in the New York Times shows up at her son’s high school basketball games with a Fathead poster of her son’s head, screams at the referees relentlessly and was once thrown out of a gym for her behavior. Another parent has switched her son’s high school three times in an obsessive quest for playing time.

And a TV producer believes that’s the formula for a successful reality series. Let’s hope our culture doesn’t embrace such a thing.

Here’s a fact many choose to ignore — college sports is no picnic. Keeping a college athletic scholarship is like a job, one that is often no bargain on a per-hour basis. That NCAA ad rings true — nearly every NCAA collegiate athlete is going pro in something other than sports. On a per hour earning basis, it’s almost better to deliver pizzas.

By the time I went to college, I wasn’t interested in playing any more football, though several schools offered me an academic/athletic aid package. My son Josh, despite getting good grades and playing regularly for one of the state’s top football teams, showed zero interest in playing beyond high school.

Josh was a good high school athlete. When he was in youth sports in Jeffersontown, there was pressure to buy private personal coaching lessons. It seems everyone in the Little League was doing it, but I resisted. I didn’t want to spend the money, but I also didn’t see the benefit. Today, we’re both glad I made that decision.

And while I went to an occasional practice and almost never missed a game, I never yelled at referees, harassed a coach for not giving him enough playing time, or made a spectacle of myself in the stands. I just didn’t want to embarrass my son, and I wanted to teach him that if he was going to be successful, he’d have to earn it.

Of course, I know parents who spend their weekends traveling with their kids to various games and camps. They make sacrifices to be on travel teams in soccer, baseball, volleyball or to participate in golf, tennis or swimming championships. It becomes a lifestyle, and for many it’s a rewarding experience for both parent and child.

Many parents can’t draw the line between healthy participation in sports and a obsessive quest to be the best.

Josh and I watched the HBO documentary together, shaking our heads as we saw a basketball Dad yelling at referees, reminding us of parents we knew from his playing days.  The show highlights parents in football, basketball, tennis and golf who have basically devoted their lives to seeing their kids succeed in sports.

The parents profiled in the New York Times discuss what they’ve given up for the sport — vacations, attention for siblings, independence to schedule anything other than the activities of one sport.

Is any of this fun for the participants?

That’s the question that came up in the HBO discussion that aired after Trophy Kids — does anyone in these sports look like they’re having fun? The panel’s answer was no. It’s a question parents, and kids, should be asking every day.

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