February 8, 2014

Norman Arey: Just let the kids play

I want to tell you two stories. In Mooresville, N.C., a small community not too far from Charlotte, school officials have told football coach Hal Capps to quit leading his team in pregame or postgame prayers. Separation of church and state and all. Parents had complained.

In San Antonio, Texas, two football coaches of 8- and 9-year old teams were thrown out of the league for teaching dirty play, encouraging their players to hurt the other players and other nauseating examples of poor sportsmanship or just plain child abuse.

These two stories are different, but yet the same. They’re about adults involved with kids in sports trying to do, in their minds, what is right whether the kids like it or not.

In the first story, it’s about teaching them respect and good sportsmanship yet defying the rules. In the second story, it’s about “toughening them up” and forcing them out of childhood way, way too early. Phrases like “I don’t care if he is crying” or “I don’t care if he doesn’t get up” are frequent and delivered at a high decibel level. I’ve even heard the story of a football coach who took his player aside, showed him a spot on a helmet and said “I guarantee you if you hit him right there with your helmet, he won’t get up.”

And with national signing day just past, I guarantee you that several of the top players received hurtful and threatening emails when they didn’t pick a particular fan’s school.

Last year Robert Nkemdiche — the defensive end at Gwinnett County’s Grayson High School was rated by some as the nation’s top recruit — committed to Clemson, then signed with Ole Miss. He received 12 written death threats — and they came from grown adults involving themselves in a decision made by a 17-year-old boy. Adults need to butt out and mind their own business.

HERE AND THERE: There will be little rest for Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson after winning the Super Bowl. He’ll report to spring training with the Texas Rangers later this month but also said he definitely isn’t going to play baseball professionally. ... When Denver lost the Super Bowl, its citizens managed to cope. The pornographic channel in Denver received a huge bump in traffic after the game. ... One of the Super Bowl commercials, seen only on certain local stations, was an advertisement for Scientology. ... Seattle is now avidly seeking a franchise in the NBA to come back to the city to replace the long-gone SuperSonics, who are now the Okahoma City Thunder. ... The Super Bowl wasn’t a particularly good day for the bettors in Las Vegas. With 68 percent of them taking the Broncos, they lost more than $19.7 million — the worst day for those betting in Super Bowl history. ... Las Vegas has already published the odds for next year’s Super Bowl. Seattle is the favorite at 9-2 odds, San Francisco second at 7 1/2-1 and Denver at 8-1. The Atlanta Falcons’ odds to win it all are 25-1.

QUICK KICKS: Florida State University quarterback Jameis Winston, the Heisman Trophy winner, has been named a preseason All-American for the school’s baseball team. ... Some football recruits at Texas are saying that former coach Mack Brown advised them to “look around” when they last saw him. ... And a note concerning national signing day. What happens to those college caps that aren’t used when a recruit announces which school he’s choosing? They’re stolen by members of the audience after the signing, according to articles online. ... Another signing day note — Decorius Law so enjoyed the big day that he signed with three different schools — Ole Miss, Utah and Eastern Mississippi Community College ... The assistant coaches at the University of Texas all signed two-year contracts. ... Morgan Shepherd, at 72 years old, will try to qualify for the Daytona 500. ... The Jamaican bobsled team is a 50-1 long shot at the Winter Olympics. ... Of the NFL’s standing ban of marijuana, Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie said this: “We’re just going to do it anyway.”

NAME GAME: Only at LSU. The Tigers got three quick letters of intent from Malachi DuPre, Tavonte Valentine and Trey Lealaimatafao. ... Eastern Michigan got a letter of intent from defensive lineman Lion King Conaway (I swear I’m not making this up). ... Damien Mama, a 6-foot-5, 360-pound offensive lineman signed with Southern Cal over Alabama and UCLA.

Norman Arey is an award-winning journalist whose column appears in The Daily Citizen on Thursday and Saturday. You can write to him at

Text Only
  • Report: Boggs now with Giants

    Dalton’s Mitchell Boggs has signed a minor league contract with the San Francisco Giants, according to Contract information, along with which minor league affiliate Boggs, a pitcher, will start with, was not available in the report, and Boggs was not listed on any of the online rosters for any of the Giants’ minor league affiliates.

    July 21, 2014

  • SE wrestling practice 5 mlh.jpg Herndon leaving Raiders to coach at Calhoun; new coach named at SE Whitfield

    Michael Herndon’s successful three-year run as Southeast Whitfield High School’s wrestling coach has come to an end.

    July 21, 2014 2 Photos

  • Hipp makes cut at qualifying tourney

    Chatsworth golfer Colby Hipp earned the chance to play on today in a U.S. Amateur qualifying tournament at Reynolds Plantation-Great Waters in Eatonton.

    July 21, 2014

  • 7on7 day 2 '14 17 mlh.jpg Devin Golden: Friday signals gridiron days’ official start

    Seven-on-seven football was a good placeholder, but it’s time to begin talking about the real thing.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • CCAC-B&W.jpg CCAC has strong showing at 14-and-under state meet

    The Carpet Capital Aquatics Club had 16 club records broken in a 12th-place finish at the 2014 Georgia 14-and-under Long Course State Championship meet Saturday at Georgia Tech’s swimming facility.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Loran Smith: Golf now in era of McIlroy after Open

    Royal & Ancient officials, under whose auspices the Open championship is conducted each year, were blessed with a sun-kissed start of the final round of the 143rd playing of this historic event.

    July 21, 2014

  • Motocross kid 6 mlh.jpg Dirt, gas and guts

    Lucas Amos is like a lot of other 6-year-olds who will be going into first grade at Tunnel Hill Elementary this school year.
    He likes to play the video game sensation Minecraft, building different structures and fending off zombies when the sun goes down. He likes to spend time with his grandparents, traveling around the Southeast with them most every weekend.
    And he likes to play in the dirt.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Loran Smith: McIlroy at his peak at Hoylake

    HOYLAKE, England — It’s the setting which enraptures those who appreciate the things that accompany a championship, The British refuse to let a downpour or two, intermittent and inconvenient, to make them fret.

    July 20, 2014

  • MMA guys 1 mlh.jpg Up close and personal

    Dustin Dyer remembers his first fight — and he has wisdom to share with North Georgia Hayastan Mixed Martial Arts Academy’s three new mixed martial arts fighters.
    “It’s just another day in the gym,” Dyer said, “just with a bigger crowd. Here (in the gym) is where you work. Out there is fun.”

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Loran Smith: Change is needed for major titles

    HOYLAKE, England — This is a good time to be Bubba Watson — long off the tee which brings golf aficionados through the gates, two Masters titles which puts him in the pantheon of the greats at Augusta, deal-makers hovering about, more perks than a palace prince, exempt status to the end of the decade and a cash flow that resembles a raging river.

    July 19, 2014