Letters to the Editor

From the week of September 18, 2003

Smells Like Team Spirit

The parent trap: Regarding Eric Dexheimer's "First Down," in the September 4 issue:

When a group of thirteen-year-olds rebel against a coach, it is not the thirteen-year-olds who are rebelling. It's the parents. It is more sad than anything else that they feel a need to abuse their children by morphing them into vicarious conduits to purge themselves of their own childhood ineptitudes or failures.

Think about the message that's being sent to these kids: "You are the best, as evidenced by your ability to beat up on lesser teams." This is self-esteem run amok. This message is bad on many levels. First, the message contains an inherent devaluation of the opponent. The notion that "some gotta win, some gotta lose" has been perverted into "you gotta win, they gotta lose." The opponent is reduced to the role of the Washington Generals in their hapless plight against the Harlem Globetrotters.

Think how this "message" translates into other realms. A sense of entitlement infuses the psyche and breeds a generation of assholes. An embedded Manifest Destiny leads to a life of imperialism in some form. Dollars to doughnuts says these are the kids who run the "Operation Iraqi Freedoms" of the future. Another message involves the use of the coach as a scapegoat. The obvious message being delivered here: "It's not your fault; it's the coach's." All accountability has been automatically transferred to the coach, and the players (and parents) have been absolved.

If these parents could be taken on a Scroogesque voyage in which they could see themselves though objective eyes, their sense of shame would fill Invesco Field to overflowing. Thank you for exposing them for what they are.

Greg Young
Highlands Ranch

Off sides: I question your responsibility as a newspaper with your publication of "First Down." Not only are you writing about a team of minors, but you also publish some of their names! For pity's sake, these kids aren't even in high school! There is also the question of why you even published this pot full of moaning and complaining about team management. Eric Dexheimer sounds like a disgruntled parent whose kid lost a football game. Get real. How many games had the team played this season? Don't professionals lose games?

Write your articles about larger issues rather than picking on a kids' league! How about the lack of fields that league has to practice on, or the issues of dealing with parents who try to live their lives through their football-playing sons (and can't handle the disappointment of their sons losing a game). Show some journalistic responsibility, please.

Ann Fuller
via the Internet

It's not whether you win or lose: Thanks to Eric Dexheimer for the article about the Evergreen Cougars football team. Our son liked Mike Mahoney and quit the team when Coach Mike was "sacked."

Dexheimer wrote a good article, but some parents will disagree. In truth, it is impossible to find "truth" in this story. Every family will have a different perspective of the situation. Some parents will claim they were concerned about safety, because fundamentals were sacrificed to teach the new offense. Other parents think that safety was a secondary issue and a smoke screen to cover for a difficult start of the season. It is true that the former Division II team did not do well in past years, but the former Division I kids and parents can learn something from them. These kids love football, as demonstrated by their irrepressible spirit and determination. They would get knocked down, then come back to Monday's practice to work harder. More Division II kids returned to play this year than Division I kids. Mike Mahoney's coaching was one of the reasons for this.

It was unfortunate that Dexheimer made an embarrassing remark about Colton Himmelman's size. We admire Colton more than any player on the team, as we have seen him aggressively tackle players more than twice his size. He is utterly amazing to watch.

Getting back to truth and perceptions about Coach Mike: You could fill Westword with different stories and views of events that were mentioned in the article. Regardless of parents' differing perceptions of Mike Mahoney's coaching, it was inexcusable to treat this volunteer coach, who generously gave hundreds of hours of time, with no more respect than one would give a pedophile. Regardless of whether they agreed with his coaching, the MAMFA board and the players and parents who walked out owe this man an apology.

Tom and Cheryl Smith
former Cougars parents


Bush League

Bucking the Broncos: Bill Gallo's September 11 "Plumbing the Broncos" was more thrilling to read than it was to watch Denver's game against Cincinnati. Although those donkeys have broken our hearts, many of us still hope that our Broncos will be good enough to promote the awe that gave us the somewhat mixed blessings of the Elway legacy: a new stadium and another place to buy cars (the commercials for John Elway Automotive can be entertaining). There's always hope for those Broncos. At least they haven't asked for $87 billion, like another institution that's broken hearts and begins with a B.

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