Jeff Pearlman

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Walking the sideline

Screen Shot 2019-09-28 at 9.24.12 AM

My son Emmett’s flag football season starts today.

He’s 12 and a member of the Raiders. In the past he’s played quarterback, but—if we’re being honest—he’s a little too much Henry Burris, a bit too little Lamar Jackson. Meaning, this year, he’s the center.

I digress.

Yesterday was the team’s third practice, and yesterday also marked the third time one of the dads paced the sidelines, instructing his son from 20 yards away. In the old days, this sorta thing would ultimately prompt me to mutter something loud enough for the guy to hear. But I’ve calmed a bit with age, and now I merely weep for the poor child who needs to endure this on a weekly basis.

I do wonder, however: Why?

Why would a parent behave this way?

Why would a parent think he’s adding something to his kid’s experience?

Why would a parent think a volunteer head coach wants these types of contributions?

Why would anything think flag football—flag fucking football?!—justifies this level of interest and intrusion?

I’m 47, and my kids are 16 and 12. I’m (praise Jesus) coming toward the end of their youth sports careers—land of moms and dads with radar guns; land of moms and dads barking from behind home plate; land of moms and dads browbeating their kids for giving up on a loose ball.

It’s a plague.

  • Laura Bagnarol

    My husband and I are in the world of youth sports right now (our kids are 7, 9, and 11) and we are appalled on a regular basis. A plague indeed.

  • wubby

    Ha Jeff, Henry Burris is a local commentator here in Ottawa Canada

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Once again, Jeff Pearlman has produced an exhaustively researched, elegantly written book that re-creates one of the most colorful and memorable teams of the modern era. No basketball fan's bookshelf will be complete without it.

— Seth Davis, author of Wooden: A Coach's Life