Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sports columnist Aaron McFarling: Fathers, be seen not heard at little league games

This week's Q&A-Mac is brought to you by Little League dads: among the most misunderstood segments of the U.S. population.

Q: Misunderstood?

A: Yeah, you only hear about them when one goes crazy and punches somebody. Then it's all over the news. This doesn't happen often, but we live in a big country full of a lot of different kinds of people (including a few morons), so it happens just often enough to perpetuate one of the world's dumbest stereotypes.

Q: How many dads did you see punch somebody during your years of playing Little League?

A: Zero.

Q: And how many have you seen punch somebody in your years of covering high school, college, pro and rec sports in southwest Virginia?

A: Zero.

Q: Did your dad come to your games?

A: Oh, yes. Almost every one of them, from T-ball through college.

Q: And he never punched anyone?

A: He's a peaceful man. Besides, it's hard to punch somebody when both of your hands are holding a newspaper. I'll never forget that. Other parents would be up in the stands cheering or brooding, and there was my father, reading the sports or business section in the stands. I don't think he ever said a word.

Q: Aha! So that's why you became a sportswriter. Figured you could finally get ol' dad's attention if your stuff was in print, huh?

A: Slow down, Dr. Phil. There's no "Cat's in the Cradle" business going on here. Silently, I loved that he did that. I think it relaxed me to know that not every pitch and at-bat was being scrutinized. I knew I wouldn't have to explain some base-running blunder or missed tackle on the ride home. But at the same time, he was there, just in case something noteworthy ever did happen. The mere presence was what mattered.

Q: Now that you're a dad yourself, what would you tell that University of New Mexico football player whose saggy pants led to his removal from an airplane this week?

A: What every dad is telling him: Pull 'em up. I might even toss in a "When I was your age, we treated our butts as sacred and didn't show them to strangers" line for good measure.

Q: Didn't that young man get arrested, too?

A: He did -- but not for the saggy pants. Police only got involved when an airline employee asked him to pull up his pants (he refused) and then asked him to leave the plane (he refused again). You might say this kid had strong principles. If the whole team cared half as much about football as this guy cared about his Constitutional right to show the nation his boxer shorts, there's no way New Mexico would have gone 1-11 last year.

Q: What was the best comment on your blog this week?

A: That comes from Original Greg, regarding the civil unrest that broke out in the Vancouver streets after the Canucks fell to Boston in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals: "I think it happens everywhere to some extent," he wrote. "You can bet your bottom dollar that if Tech ever wins a BCS championship there will be some cows aflame in Blacksburg!"

Q: UVa fan, huh?

A: UNC, actually. But the Virginia Tech fans took it well. Many agreed that a juicy steak would be a fine way to celebrate such an occasion.

Q: So, will UVa be celebrating a College World Series championship this week?

A: I think so. I like that the Cavs have three ace-caliber pitchers. I like that the game-winning rally in Monday's Super Regional clincher was engineered by the bottom of the lineup. It demonstrated depth, and depth is what you need to win it all. This is the year for UVa.

Q: Sounds good. Anything else you want to talk about?

A: Not really. Just want to wish all the dads out there a happy Fathers Day.

Q: By the way, did you ever tell your dad how much you appreciated his coming to your games?

A: No. But if he still reads the newspaper, maybe I just did.

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