Ignore the petition and keep parents off the course

Ignore the petition and keep parents off the course

Here’s a question to ask yourself.

In the history high school sports, has the solution to any problem ever been more parents?

Take a minute to think about that one.

As one of my friends pointed out, if you don’t have enough people to put on a fundraising bake sale, then, yes, more parents could be the answer. Other than that, it is a resounding no way.

More often than not, the parents are the problem.

Parents are the ones yelling at the referees, leading to a severe shortage in sports officials in every sport.

Parents are the ones telling their sons and daughters that they are better than the player who is getting more playing time, sabotaging the team chemistry.

Parents are the ones who think they know more about how to run a team than the coach who is giving up his or her social and family life for that team.

Granted, most parents are good. If you’re reading this, I am probably not talking about you. You’re one of the good ones. We’re talking about the one in every crowd here.

That leads us to an online petition that made the rounds last week. The petition calls for the Montana High School Association to end its ban on spectators on the course at high school golfing events.

The reason for the petition is that parents want to watch their sons and daughters play golf.

While I understand the reasoning behind the petition and I think a nice compromise can be made to resolve this issue, there is no way I would sign this petition as it is. (Click here to see the petition)

For one thing, the petition cited “minority status” as for the reason the MHSA is “discriminating” against golfers.

Yeah, because when we think of golf, we always think about how those poor golfers have been discriminated against for all those years. The rich white kids can just never get a fair shake.

Can’t you just hear the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speech now?

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their goofy golf pants, but by the content of their character.

Yes, I understand the petition writer was talking about numbers and not race. There are just some words that probably shouldn’t be used in certain situations.

Believe it or not, there is good reason why parents are not allowed on golf courses. For one thing, there is generally one type of person who is going to take a day off to spend five hours following his son or daughter around the course. That is the overzealous dad.

This dad, whether he is intentionally evil or not, will intimidate the rest of the golfers in the group. He will also probably ruin the day for his child.

As a 13-year-old golfer I was harassed by a smiling dad of the boy who eventually won the Montana State Junior Golf Championships in Helena.

As soon as this dad saw I beat his son in the first round, he set his sights on me to try to psych me out, and it worked, too. He was talking to me in the clubhouse, on the practice green, in the parking lot and on the driving range. (Here’s the column I wrote about that earlier this year.)

I can only imagine how bad it would have been if he was able to walk the course with our group for the final round.

The moms who signed that petition probably never took that into account.

Had he not been working out of state, my dad probably would have knocked that dad out. Most parents, though, probably wouldn’t have even realized what the guy was doing.

Yes, parents get to watch their children play in football, basketball, volleyball, soccer, baseball and softball. They can’t however, walk out onto the court and talk to their child right before he shoots a free throw.

They can’t make a mound visit after their child issues a four-pitch walk.

Golf is clearly a different sport, and yes, it is a sport. It is a mental sport.

In basketball, the one knucklehead dad can cause a commotion and embarrass his family. In golf, that guy can alter the course of the tournament by getting into the heads of the other golfers.

He could also tell his son that his putt is going to break to the left or that he should hit a 6-iron instead of a 7, both things that are illegal in every tournament. There is simply too much space on a golf course to police these guys.

In a Little Guy Football game this year, I saw a dad yell at his son to tackle a 9-year-old boy by the hair. You want him walking around the golf course with your kid when there might not be someone around who can shut him up?

In basketball, security guards surround the court. When the jacked-up dad from Corvallis walked onto the basketball court during a game against Butte Central a few years ago, there were plenty of people to not-so-politely see his shinny head out the door.

Just rope off the spectators like they do in professional golf tournaments they say, as if prep tournaments are expected to have the budget of a PGA Tour event.

The high schools barely have enough money for team golf bags.

If spectators were allowed on the course and every family member really wants to watch the entire tournament, we’d need hundreds of security guards to monitor each tee box, fairway, rough and green. One chaperon per group isn’t going to cut it.

The petition claims that Montana is the only state in the nation that is so hard on golfing parents, but I’m not buying that. There is no way every other state just lets parents walk the course with their children.

Plus, the golf courses are not going to want hordes of people trampling the course. We’re lucky they let the school use them in the first place.

Parents, though, like to watch their children compete, and that’s understandable.

A compromise could be setting up a fan area around the tee boxes on Nos. 1 and 10 and the greens on Nos. 9 and 18, and possibly a couple of other spots on the course.

That way parents get a glimpse of their golfers, and for the rest of the round the kids can get to know their playing partners, crack a few jokes and play golf. You know, they’d get to have fun.

Here’s an even better idea.

Instead of worrying about following the golfers around for every shot, maybe you could instead invest that time into making something for that fundraising bake sale.

Those team golf bags don’t pay for themselves.

— Bill Foley, who is always looking for a good bake sale, writes a column that appears Tuesdays on ButteSports.com. Email him at foley@buttesports.com. Follow him at twitter.com/Foles74



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