Friday, May 26, 2006

Healthy Stance

I wish I could say that I never had a problem with a parent, but I can't. It used to be where the parents were cordial, respectful, and quite helpful. Now don't mistake what I am about to say, because some parents still get it, but this is one area that has deteriorated most severely over my last 23 years of scouting. Many of the parents I deal with today are obnoxious, arrogant, over-controlling, money hungry, know-it-all's.

They are incredibly pushy at the negotiation table and take everything way too personally. When I talk about a player's deficiencies, I always make sure to couch them in a way that I am only addressing the behaviors (actions) of the player instead of the player himself. If I don't, parents tend to get fired-up. In fact, they have a more difficult time with reality than the parents of 15-20 years ago. Those parents saw the deficiencies as room for improvement and a challenge for little Johnny to overcome. Today's parents would rather argue that no deficiencies exist and tell me I'm crazy because some other scout says their little Johnny is the next Albert Pujols.

That brings me to my approach. Rule uno . . . Quickly build an expectation that I'm simply here to evaluate both the good and the bad behaviors on behalf of my organization. Rule dos . . . Keep a healthy distance. I feel the need to maintain a professional, not personal, relationship with the parents. No matter how close I get with the parents, there's going to be a point in time when I point out reality which can tend to sour the personal relationship. Of course, I've learned this the hard way.

Other scouts, however, are their best buddies. They tell them what they want to hear, no matter what. They go over to the house for BBQ cookouts, kiss the babies, hold Grandma's hand, blow little Johnny's nose . . . not me. I simply won't do it. And I can't stand scouts that do. Which brings me to the other scouts which are really getting on my nerves at this point. I cringe at some of the stuff they're saying and doing. And I seem to be getting more than an earful (regarding what this scout did or said) during all my signability calls with the kids and their parents. Much more than usual. I think I'm overdue on going Billy Martin. Let the backstabbing begin. Next post: my brethren (only the ones I don't like, of course).


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