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Selfishness can be found anywhere

October 3, 2011
Weirton Daily Times

I received an e-mail (which was signed, so I read it) a few months back and held onto it, knowing it would go here.

Well, here we go.

We are about one month away from the end of football, volleyball and soccer seasons, with basketball, wrestling and swimming on the horizon.

I travel to a lot of gyms and football fields in this capacity and that of a father and coach of two children at Jefferson County Christian School, where I am also the athletic director.

I hear parents all the time.

All the time.

It's not always bad, but it sure isn't always good.

So, I bring you this.

A gentleman wrote to me that he was away watching his granddaughter play softball and the e-mail said: "On my way to the field where she would be playing, a mother, a boy about 8-10 years old in a uniform and a boy that I assumed was an older brother walked past me and the mother said, 'You think about yourself. Don't think about your team because your team sucks.'"

This really should come as no surprise to anyone.

And, if mom keeps this up, she is going to be a joy to be around for any high school coach.

She is the reason her son will be a 15th round pick in next year's Little League draft, because no coach wants to deal with her.

She is the reason why her son will be cut from the baseball team as a freshman, because the coaches want no part of her.

She is the epitome of the reason why teachers and coaches secretly wish they had a classroom or roster full or orphans, then they would never have to deal with parents.

Dear parents, if your child cannot do the regular work in a classroom under normal circumstances, please do not ask the teacher for extra credit so your child can get a better grade.

If the child cannot do the regular work, why in the world would the teacher give the child a chance at extra credit. You see, extra credit, if given at all, are for the students who have their work done, and want to do something more so that 98 in the class is now a 104.

It is not done so your child can go from a 45 to a 59.

Last month Ron Clark, founder of the Ron Clark Academy, wrote a piece for and this is how it started:

"This summer, I met a principal who was recently named as the administrator of the year in her state. She was loved and adored by all, but she told me she was leaving the profession.

"I screamed, 'You can't leave us,' and she quite bluntly replied, 'Look, if I get an offer to lead a school system of orphans, I will be all over it, but I just can't deal with parents anymore; they are killing us.'"

He went on, and this directly applies to sports and the coaches:

"And if you really want to help your children be successful, stop making excuses for them. I was talking with a parent and her son about his summer reading assignments. He told me he hadn't started, and I let him know I was extremely disappointed because school starts in two weeks.

"His mother chimed in and told me that it had been a horrible summer for them because of family issues they'd been through in July. I said I was so sorry, but I couldn't help but point out that the assignments were given in May. She quickly added that she was allowing her child some 'fun time' during the summer before getting back to work in July and that it wasn't his fault the work wasn't complete.

"Some parents will make excuses regardless of the situation, and they are raising children who will grow into adults who turn toward excuses and do not create a strong work ethic. If you don't want your child to end up 25 and jobless, sitting on your couch eating potato chips, then stop making excuses for why they aren't succeeding. Instead, focus on finding solutions.

"And parents, you know, it's OK for your child to get in trouble sometimes. It builds character and teaches life lessons. As teachers, we are vexed by those parents who stand in the way of those lessons; we call them helicopter parents because they want to swoop in and save their child every time something goes wrong. If we give a child a 79 on a project, then that is what the child deserves. Don't set up a time to meet with me to negotiate extra credit for an 80. It's a 79, regardless of whether you think it should be a B-plus."

And, finally ...

"And please, be a partner instead of a prosecutor. I had a child cheat on a test, and his parents threatened to call a lawyer because I was labeling him a criminal. I know that sounds crazy, but principals all across the country are telling me that more and more lawyers are accompanying parents for school meetings dealing with their children."

You know that summer reading assignment Clark talked about, well, that is summer weightlifting, 7-on-7 passing league, Legion baseball or basketball shootouts.

Making excuses for our children is incredibly selfish on our part.

The more excuses we make for our children in school, sports and life equals the more excuses they make for themselves when they sleepwalk through college and cannot hold down a job. I can promise you this, teachers and coaches do not want to talk to us parents.

(Mathison, a Weirton resident, is the sports editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and can be contacted at

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