‘Trophy Kids’ Highlights What’s Wrong With Youth Sports

trophy-kidsWatching the 2013 HBO documentary Trophy Kids (now on Netflix) took me back to my daughter’s 8th grade year of basketball cheer when I sat in the stands amazed at the behavior of my peers.

The basketball team was good — some of the parents — not so much. Many jeered, chided and demeaned the referees and, the way some behaved, I thought they would lose money if the team lost.

But their actions pale in comparison to parents in this documentary.

The movie follows the careers of an under-10 female golf prodigy, junior high male twin tennis stars, a high school football player and two male high school basketball stars. The film includes enough action clips to showcase just how highly skilled these young athletes are, but the real story is about the parents and how they treat the children.

All of the parents have pinned their hopes — and elements of their own unlived lives — on the backs of these young stars. Although the parental approach is different for each, ranging from a faith that God will deliver the win to a over-reliance on supplements and regimen, each parent pushes their child to do more — to reach that elusive ‘next level’ of competition.

For some parents, the ultimate goal is a free ride to a D-I college or university via a scholarship.

The athletes’ stories build slowly as their ups and downs are chronicle — and there is compelling collateral damage along the way — injuries as well as fights between parents, kids and coaches. An interview, near the end of the film, with a high school basketball coach is eye-opening as he explains what is wrong with today’s parents.

After viewing this movie you will no longer need to ponder how high school sports devolved into its current state of affairs. These parents give you an inside view of the mindset that has overtaken youth sports which will quite possibly leave you feeling like one online reviewer who wrote,

“Rarely have I been angrier than when I watched this documentary.”

Rated 5 out of 5. The movie moves at a fast clip — highlighting the athletic prowess of the athletes while showcasing the obsessive behavior of parents living vicariously through their children.

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Thanks To All Who Made Hocking Hills An Enjoyable Trip

30224383885_682bc4e316_zFor possibly a decade, I’ve been saying I want to go to Hocking Hills. Both my wife and daughter were okay with going — and my dog Versa could live in the forest — but, for countless reasons, I never planned the trip.

This weekend was different. I cleaned the van, threw in a mattress (in case we could not find lodging) — and Amy, Versa and I heading to Logan, Ohio, to see what Hocking Hills was like.

We were not disappointed. Saturday, we visited Old Man’s Cave and hiked about five or six miles. On Sunday we hiked near Cedar Falls. During our trip, we saw a deer, a handful of wild turkeys and, of course, stunning landscape — and we met some incredibly nice people.

Illegal Parking — Just Say No!

First there was the park ranger who pulled up behind me as I was unloading my gear to walk through Old Man’s Cave. I had parked behind two vehicles in the shoulder/ditch area of the state route near the park’s entrance.

“I’m going to do you a favor, the park ranger said, and just give you a warning. I am going to ticket the vehicles in front of you. This is a no parking zone. It’s a really dangerous place to park.”

When the friendly officer further explained by not ticketing us he was saving us $135, Amy gave him a high five– which he returned, grinning.

So, we moved the vehicle, thankful for the financial break, and decided to try the parking lot even though it was overflowing. We found a spot, parked legally and spent several hours hiking and photographing the beautiful scenery.

Conkle’s Hollow

29942994180_1b5d6df255_zAfter Old Man’s Cave we were uncertain where to go so we headed to Conkle’s Hollow, but noticed a sign that pets were not permitted on the trail so we left. We then stopped at the state-run campground, hoping against the odds, that they would have a cabin or campsite to rent (they did not), but it was here that a young lady really helped us out.

Since my only goal for the weekend was to get us there, I did not know which trails were the best/worst to hike with a dog. The woman at the campground did know though. She took the time to show me the best trail — explained the terrain (‘there’s one hard hill before the lake’) and marked a spot on the map so I knew where to park to easily access Cedar Falls park.

In For The Night

After hiking a couple of hours Saturday evening, we headed back to the local Walmart to pick up some odds and ends and to decide where to sleep. We knew we could sleep in the Walmart parking lot, but were concerned the dog would be restless (yes we have become those people) due to the street lights. So, we headed to a nearby motel while searching online for deals. The lady at the motel said they were full, but then picked up the phone to find us a room in a nearby town. Although unsuccessful in her attempt, her willingness to help was typical of the way we were treated all weekend.

We decided to try one more place — near Old Man’s Cave. By now it was dark and getting cooler. We pulled into Caveman’s Retreat and the woman reserved us a campsite quickly and easily — and her pleasant demeanor gained her a repeat customer. The site was exactly what we needed and by 9 p.m. we were tucked safely inside our makeshift camper.


Inside Hocking Hills forest and much of the surrounding area, we were cut off from the electronic world. It was a pleasant distraction. Temperatures dipped into the low 40s the night we stayed, but inside our van, beneath our heavy-duty blanket, we were warm and content.

After a good night’s sleep, we headed out Sunday morning for an enjoyable, scenic 10-mile hike at Cedar Falls.

When we left the region Sunday afternoon, we both knew one thing for certain.

We would be back.


Categories: Ohio, Ohio Events, Things To Do | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Local GOP Corrects One Of Two Signage Errors

deplorableFor several days, the Preble County GOP used a sign in front of their Main Street Victory Center in Eaton with Headquarters spelled incorrectly. I photographed the sign on Tuesday, Oct. 11 and posted it to my Instagram account — with less than 50 followers — today (Thursday) as a joke. (As a reporter for The Register-Herald two decades ago, I wrote a headline in a very large point size with an incorrect word — so I get it — mistakes happen.)

When I drove past the building this evening on my way home, I noticed the incorrectly spelled sign had been replaced.

But, my real reason for photographing the building was the off-putting slogan embraced by local Party leaders, “Deplorable and Proud of It.” The Trump Train, as the campaign is called, does not need the assistance of a slogan that promotes five immoral and unethical positions for Trump to win here. If you’ve lived in Preble County for more than a week, it’s obvious Trump has plenty of support.

Local Party leaders’ error is not following the advice (pdf) offered up by the National Republican Party several years ago after Mitt Romney lost the presidential election (carrying 67 percent of the Preble County vote). In the report, one of its main points was to move past the divisive approach to politics.

The report states,

Public perception of the Party is at record lows. Young voters are increasingly rolling their eyes at what the Party represents, and many minorities wrongly think that Republicans do not like them or want them in the country. When someone rolls their eyes at us, they are not likely to open their ears to us.

Slogans like ‘Deplorable’ doesn’t up the win factor for Preble. It alienates borderline conservatives. This becomes important in national elections because the millennials are here and they have — and will continue to have — a significant voice in the direction of the country.

A misspelled word is an honest mistake — embracing divisiveness, though, is strategically foolish.

Categories: My America, Politics, Preble County, Small Town Politics | Leave a comment

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