It’s Sporting to Sue!

by Chris Markham. 0 Comments

I was never very good at sports as a youngster. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t hit the ball, make the basket or outrun my opponents. There were only two things I could do competently; throw and kick. On balance, though, my athletic career could be best summed up as I wasn’t big, but boy was I slow.
My parents, while supportive of my athletic endeavors, realized (much sooner than I did, I’m afraid) that I was never going to make it to the big leagues in any sport. Thus, while they were supportive when I inexplicably made a big play and critical when I made a mental error, they never expected too much from me, nor did they put pressure on me, my coaches, or any other person in a position of influence in my sports career to play me more, make me more visible or drag my talent up a notch.
These days, it seems every parent believes that their child is destined for athletic superstardom. Little league, scholastic sports and club teams aren’t something to keep a kid active and happy; rather, all of it is a training ground for the future Michael Jordan’s of the world. This has led to quite a few interesting interactions between coaches and parents.
It all started with brawls. You know the ones – a coach and a parent, a couple of parents, a couple of parents and a couple of coaches. I would be mortified as a child watching my Dad fight a coach, but, apparently it became so commonplace, no one noticed any more. Because it was de riguer, the stakes had to be raised in some way or another. Apparently, there was only one way to do so.
If you guessed litigation, you would be correct.
I’ve heard of and seen a bunch of cases that have parents (and children if they’re old enough) suing coaches and athletic organizations over junior’s playing time and development. These suits claim that, because of some prejudice on the part of the coach or team management, Junior never had enough practice or game-time to develop the skills necessary to bring out his or her true athletic talent.
This is horribly difficult to prove. Even more so than monetary damages. I can only imagine what you would have to put your child through to show that they had the requisite physical ability to compete at a very high (collegiate or professional) level; that they had the mental acuity to rise through the athletic ranks; that they, but for the prejudice and negligence shown by the athletic league or coaching staff, would have been able to achieve stardom in their specific sport; and that they had no injuries or other ailments that could have manifested themselves in the future, thus prohibiting an athletic career.
I would suppose one would also have to train a microscope on the child’s home life to determine whether they were provided with the proper diet, exercise regime and care and support by their parents. If I was a parent, I’m not so sure I would want to open up my life for that kind of scrutiny. Yes, my kid had McDonalds a few times last month. Yes, we went on vacation for two weeks and Junior didn’t have any time to run laps or practice his throwing. Or he or she wanted to take a day off from his training activities to eat a whole bunch of sugar and play video games.
Plus, you’re going to have to drag the other kids on the team into this mess by assessing their talents in relation to junior’s teammates. I can only imagine dragging a jury and a judge out to the local ballfield to show just how exquisite the kid’s talents are, and how they have been railroaded by the evil athletic cabal.
Then, we get to damages. People don’t make any money playing sports until they reach the professional level. And as we’ve all heard, a hundred thousand kids play high school sports. Twenty Thousand play college sports. And about five thousand are good enough to earn money playing the sport. So you have to show that your beloved and talented child would not only make it to the professional ranks, but also sign a huge contract making him wealthy beyond his wildest dreams.
That last part takes a great deal of sacrifice, drive, discipline, desire and determination. Or, as mentioned previously, you could just sue.


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