I recently stumbled on some old floppy disks (are there any other kind?) that have some of my old columns going back up to 14 years. Some stand the test of time, others not so much. This one was from 1993.
Father’s Day is upon us. Since motherhood is right up there with apple pie and the flag, the importance of fatherhood is often overlooked. With so many more single-parent (typically maternal) families today, and with some women preferring to “go it alone” rather than put up with the “hassles” (their words, not mine) of a man in the home, the void created by the absence of a father is much greater than feminists would like to admit. Don’t get me wrong, I am not bashing motherhood. What I am bashing is the thought that fathers do not matter very much.
My own father was very special to me. In eight years of football, from Eureka to Susanville to Yreka to Oroville, he only missed two games. (My mom did not miss any!) He coached some of my earlier football teams, taught me how to run track, and was always there for transportation assistance when needed. I feel a bit guilty today when I attempt to shirk some of my paternal duties.
I used to get mad at my dad when he would give me hell for screwing up just a little bit, while not giving me a pat on the back when I did as I should. He would tell me that is the way life is, that one could go their whole life on the straight and narrow and then step out of line just a little bit and all is lost. I wish he were here today to thank for preparing me for how cold life could be.
I just finished coaching my son’s baseball team. (Remember, this was 1993!) Between the baseball team and the Pop Warner team I helped coach, you wouldn’t need two hands to count the total number of wins we had. It is seasons like these that give a whole new meaning to the word “character building”.
Whenever I competed at anything, it was always to win. I don’t personally compete a whole lot any more, but when I do I still hate to lose. Back in my team sports days, I could not tolerate the acceptance of losing. I have heard of the theory about winning and losing not mattering, but that was poppycock as far as I was concerned.
As a coach of youth sports, I had to learn to put that attitude on the shelf. As a young man of 16, I was suspended from my coaching job of an eighth-grade basketball team because of my intolerant attitude of losing. I’ve learned a lot since then. A must view movie for all wanna-be youth coaches is “The Mighty Ducks”. It really puts a lot in perspective.
However, I still believe in discipline. One year, I had a kid on my team that was a spoiled little rich brat. While I may not have cared for him personally, I was a fair but stern coach and treated him as I did the rest of the team. If he disrupted the team or popped off, he was dealt with then and there. My punishment of choice was laps or pushups. (I will also raise my voice on occasion, but only if I need to be heard and never in a player’s face.) How did his parents react to the attempted disciplining of their little brat? They attempted to have me disciplined! (As a side note, when this first ran in the paper the father of the brat called me at home – I did not take or return his call.)
It is families like the one in the above paragraph — bratty kids with parents too stuck up to realize a problem exists — that make George Bush’s quote “Today we need more families like the Waltons and less like the Simpsons” ring true. A little discipline at home in the early years would go a long ways. It is not up to schools, coaches or churches to form the moral character of today’s youth. It is up to the parents.
My children are far from perfect. If I hear them sass an adult, or even be abusive to another child, I will do the best I can to correct the situation on the spot rather than take the easy way out and wait for “later”. (Because “later” never seems to come!) If my children turn out like the brat mentioned in the above paragraph, or some other brats I know whose parents are too lazy to enforce discipline, at least I will know that I put forth the effort.
So to all the dads out there who are trying to do right by their families — happy Father’s Day, you have earned it. To all the male parents out there who just do not give a damn, remember one thing: your apathy affects not just you but your next generation. Think about it.