Saturday, October 13, 2007

Where are the parents? Right here

One of the most frequent questions that shows up in comments on our news stories about kids in trouble: Where were the parents? Well, a story that has landed on 1A Saturday has a much different twist. Parents are front and center -- and demanding to know how their kids could be in trouble for winning a basketball game.

The parents made sure that the Bradenton Herald knew they cared and wanted answers. They packed two vans full Thursday night and drove to the Herald's front door to tell their story, catching newsroom staffers Brent and Jennifer Conklin just as they were leaving for dinner.

The parents couldn't get the words out fast enough: Their sons, members of the Buffalo Creek Middle School boys basketball team, had won a huge last-minute victory a couple nights earlier, against none other than Lincoln Middle, the school where most of them had attended last year. But the parents weren’t celebrating. They were demanding to know why –- after the fact –- the victory had to be forfeited.

Their boys apparently hadn’t met a district-wide rule: They are eligible for middle school interscholastic games only if they meet a “conduct requirement.” They hadn’t met the requirement a year ago at Lincoln Middle. But they sure are trying now, their parents insist. And only to have a game thrown out after a questionable challenge.

The Herald's night metro editor Joe Saunders joined the discussion with the parents, and he got education reporter Sylvia Lim working on the story. So, for the rest of the story, read Lim’s report.

Here's a link to Saturday's story:

I’m sure there will be follow-up stories on rules, children’s sports, parents’ involvement and the like. It's a hot topic that will have tongues wagging. And there's a huge asterisk here: I’m not condoning parents getting all lathered up and overly competitive when their kids are competing. I’ve seen too many parents ruin the day by getting ugly over a game that’s supposed to be teaching team play, team spirit, character building...

But these parents told us they just want a fair shake for a group of kids pulling themselves together to have a great time and stay off the streets.

And that should be a winner.


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