Daily Archives: April 17, 2010

When parents attack: An occupational hazard for me. And a great old Maher clip

Another one of my occasional “What it’s like to be a sports writer” ramblings…

So I had the mother of a high school athlete call me up and yell at me for 10 minutes on Thursday.

She called me names, insulted me, said what I wrote about her kid was “terrible,” and that everyone she knew was going to cancel their subscriptions.

I tried to reason with her, and reminded her of all the positive things I’ve written about her kid in past years, but she’d have none of it.

To me, as a writer who covers high school sports predominantly, this is not that unusual of an occurence.

Step outside of it for a minute, though. Other than maybe a schoolteacher, in what other profession does this happen? If I’m a financial planner and I give my client some bad advice, does his mother call me up at work and yell at me? If I work as a real estate agent and people aren’t happy with the house I sell them, does their Mom call me up and read me the riot act?

It’s a strange thing, really; your work is out there for everyone to see, but occasionally irrationality takes over for readers. Especially parents who think their kid has been wronged in public.

Look, I understand parents feel very protective of their kids, and so many parents have thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours invested in their child’s athletic career.

But do they really think yelling at and insulting reporters is going to make things better? Usually I hear the parent out; most times they just are frustrated and want you to let them rant for a while (My favorite is the parent who says “I wasn’t going to complain, but other people told me I should be mad so I called.” That cracks me up. Happens more often than you’d think.)

I’m not really complaining about dealing with parents, at least, I don’t mean to be. Ninety-five percent of the parents I deal with are wonderful and friendly.

It’s just that when they’re mad … well, it’s never fun to hear, as I once did, that “you’ve ruined her life forever.”

**OK, so Alan Simpson, the old senator from Wyoming, is a crusty and colorful retired politician. He was interviewed in Newsweek this week, which made me remember one of the strangest yet most fascinating interviews I’ve seen. Right after W. was re-elected in 2004, Simpson went on Bill Maher’s HBO show to be interviewed.

Check out the interplay here; definitely not what Maher was expecting. I thought the whole thing was awesome.