High School Referees Should Root Out Rude Parents

The Scene/County currents and undercurrents

January 09, 1991|By Gary Lambrecht

Parents act the darnedest ways sometimes.

I have no doubt the typical parent is basically a kind, mature person, able to dispense caring discipline and loving advice with an equal hand. In other words, able to set a good example for the childrento follow.

However, that theory sometimes goes haywire in a high school gymnasium, particularly when one of Mr. or Mrs. Parent's children is participating in a basketball game there.

What is it about these parents? You know the obnoxious, irritating but very distinct minority to which I'm referring.

They're the ones who seem to protest every call that goes against his or her child's team, regardless of the call's accuracy.

They're the ones who loudly question the ethical practices of honest officials ("How much are they paying you, ref?" is a time-honored favorite) if they sense their team isn't getting enough favorable treatment from the referees.

They're the ones who even stoop to verbally abusing a member of the opposing team by, for instance, calling attention to that boy's or girl's weight problem, or resorting to subtle racial slurs. Sad but true. I've listened to those kinds of atrocities on more than one occasion from teen-agersand adults. I guess I expect it from the teen-agers.

Don't get mewrong. Booing is a huge part of being a spectator. The money you payfor a ticket to any sporting event entitles you to the right to exercise catharsis as well as the right to watch. Yelling and screaming go hand in hand with observing.

But a ticket shouldn't give anyone the right to voice cruel, insensitive remarks that offend others around them, not to mention the victims on the floor.

Overly serious, hard-rooting parents are nothing new to amateur sports. I can remember listening to obnoxious mothers and fathers yell nasty things at thehome plate umpire over balls and strikes when I played Little Leaguebaseball.

One time, the ump ripped off his mask and told an especially offensive father (not mine) that the game wouldn't continue until he left. Dad hit the road.

Sometimes, I wish more basketball referees would make the same call. Tell the grown-ups to grow up and give 'em the thumb.

SOURCE: Gary Lambrecht


"Stanley and Iris" was the last straw.

Until "Stanley," we have managed to maintain reasonable equanimity in the face of hyper-enthusiastic video rental store clerks exclaiming over every movie we check out, "Oh, that's a good movie!"

We did wonder at times how they could possibly know. Were they spending all their free hoursin darkened rooms, watching movie after movie after movie until their brains were stuffed with plots from "The Philadelphia Story" to "Cheech and Chong's Next Movie?"

Was every worker required to have a plot synopsis ready to accompany the standing remark just in case anyone -- us, for example -- checked out "Friendly Persuasion" the week everyone else was scrambling over copies of "Total Recall?"

A former employee of a local video rental store assures us that he was neverrequired to assure customers of the rightness of their choices nor to build their expectations for the occasional letdown.

"That's a good movie!" said the clerk as we checked out "Enemies: A Love Story."

Okay, it wasn't a really awful movie. But it never answered the questions, "What do these three women, each of whom has a distinctive personality and likable qualities, see in this man who relies on a single, all-occasion facial expression to carry him through life? Were men that hard to find in New York City after World War II?"

"That's a good movie!" said the clerk as we checked out "Summer Solstice."

Too short to allow any real character development, the movie left poor Henry Fonda without much to do other than wait for the denouement. Funny, for a short movie, the end seemed a long time in coming.

"That's a good movie!" said the clerk as we checked out "Stanley andIris."

What the perpetrators of "Stanley and Iris" foisted upon the screen was a movie with more loose ends than a platter of spaghetti.

To wit: Why is the educated, articulate Jane Fonda working in a bakery instead of getting a better job? If her teen-age daughter became pregnant in revenge for Jane having forced her to clean up her room, is anybody going to try to resolve the conflict between mother anddaughter? Was it the cake cooler he built that got Robert DeNiro a job in Detroit? Did the writer of the screenplay actually get paid fordialogue like the scene between DeNiro's character and Fonda's character's little boy, both of whose fathers recently died?

Little boy: When I was afraid of the dark, my dad let me sleep with the light on.

DeNiro's character: My dad was the light.

We took the movie back and asked the relentlessly cheery clerk, "If you said this was agood movie, and it turned out to be a candidate for the county landfill, do we get our money back?"

We won't bore you with the answer,but we did hop in the car the other day and take a quick survey on the pervasiveness of the "That's a good . . ." syndrome.

They were doing it in Ellicott City, although more customers were being sent off with "Have a happy new year!" than "That's a . . ." And in the Wilde Lake Village Center video rental store, they weren't doing it at all. Customers were being wished a happy new year, told they could bring movies back Wednesday, but not a single "That's a . . ." crossed the lips of the two female clerks on duty.

Maybe hope exists. If Columbia is an experiment in the perfectibility of man, and at least one or two of the video rental clerks have decided not to build false hopes in the hearts of their customers, maybe the idea will catch on.

Oh, yes, about "Friendly Persuasion." Now, that's a good movie.

SOURCE: Donna E. Boller

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