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Brewington: Parents need to chill a bit


It's amazing to me how much things have changed over the years, but how some things still remain the same.

When I first started taking photos, I can remember using an old Yashica D camera with its wonderful large formant negative, and upside down image. Later, I switch to 35mm Canon I “borrowed” from my dad, and not too long afterwards bought my first Nikon. Garry Moore lived in St. Helens and was the Nikon rep for the state. He was always able to get us good deals.

   The office went from manual typewriters to electric to computers to full page pagination on computers. It was a big advance. We used to have to print up corrections, cut them out and paste them on stories on the page (It was actually wax, not paste).

With all the technological advances, one thing that remains the same is human nature. We received a complaint last week over a sentence in a story on practices. One of the kid's fathers went on a rampage about how is son had been mistreated by us. Our new sports editor wrote the story. The e-mail came to me. I went back and read the “offending” passage and just couldn't see it. There was no slight, not even close. I won't go into details, because I really don't want to single someone out and embarrass them. It's been a cardinal rule of mine of the years not to do anything to embarrass high school students. They are high school students after all. While some can deal with it, others have a harder time.

Unintended slights can get blown out of proportion, and oftentimes much more is made out of something than was even there.

I learned that early in my career with an ill-advised headline. It was a mistake on my part, but I caught a lot of flack over it and learned my lesson. It would have been different if there was nothing to complain about.

I've seen it a lot over the years in all areas of journalism.

It's understandable. No one wants to be placed in a bad light.

However, there are things that must be reported that are not pleasant for anyone. Some comment in a sports story is not one of them.

I wrote a column a few weeks back about how parents can misbehave at games and be a total embarrassment to their offspring.

My belief is that parents need to let the kids learn that things don't always go the way they want. Let them grow up, frankly. The ones that learn that they may not win every game, or play in every game, and to pick themselves up from adversity can go to to be complete human beings.

My daughter had to learn this lesson in mid-school. She was a pretty good basketball player, but was devastated when she didn't get picked for the seventh grade varsity. It was clear there was a bit of favoritism going on, but I decided not to raise a fuss. It wouldn't have helped things and might have made them worse.

Her answer was to show the varsity in her first game, what she could do—double figures in scoring, rebounding and assists did the trick. She was satisfied. She scored only slightly less than the entire varsity did in their game.

She didn't get moved up, but she made her point and was on the eighth grade varsity the following year.

Was she slighted? Sure. Were her feelings hurt? Sure. She didn't overreact and found a better way to make her point. She learned from the experience. She was captain of the team in high school. They had to play some of the best teams in the country so they didn't have a great record. But I think she learned more from that early insult than she would ever have learned if we'd whined about the whole thing a made a fuss.

I knew a school board member one time that kept a coach from a head coaching position because she felt her daughter had been slighted years before. Later, she tried to get another coach fired over playing time. She claimed she was speaking as a parent and not a school board member. I didn't think so in either case. As far as I was concerned it was an abuse of power. The one went on to be a heard coach at another school and the other coach was not fired.

Kids learn from their parents actions and reactions. Give coaches a break. They all work very hard. If there's truly a problem, it will quickly be come obvious to those in power. There's always more to it than how little Johnny or Susie were treated.

As I told the parents that complained last week, just chill a bit. They're not helping their kids.