Monday, September 17, 2007

Well, Aren't You Special

Does anyone remember the Church Lady, Dana Carvey's character on Saturday Night Live, and her punchline "Well, isn't that special?" I find myself wanting to say the same thing, only with my own spin on it, to certain parents I have had dealings with over the summer -- "well, aren't you special?"

Somehow, two years ago, I wound up as the Registrar for our Intown Youth Soccer Program. Actually, two friends of mine were the incoming Director and the Treasurer. The Treasurer, whose children had moved on to travel teams, wanted to step down and thought I’d be a great replacement. I went to the first board meeting and was informed that someone else had decided that another newbie would be Treasurer. I then moved to the Registrar position because it’s very similar to what I do at work and, more importantly, I can do it from home.

Well, this “volunteer” position resulted in me spending more than 100 hours during July, August, and the start of September dealing with parents of the local wanna-be Mia Hamms and David Beckhams. What exacerbated the situation is that we have a Director who also happens to be a very good friend of mine, and, while we usually get along, we differ on the “let them play” philosophy. Her’s is “no matter what, I’ll never keep a kid from playing”. Mine is “everyone should play who wants to, so long as their registration is completed and in on time”. She gives every parent the benefit of the doubt, responding to one of my comments with “Well, everyone’s really busy. They should still be allowed to register their kids after the due date”.

Here’s my problem with that statement. We have a website, that listed the deadline as well as two walk-in registration nights. We had a banner hanging over our downtown noting the walk-in nights and our website address. The registration forms were available on our website, and a registration form was also sent home with every elementary schoolchild back in June. Three hundred and fifty people managed to read the form and get it in on time. Another 65 parents, mostly with returning players, CHOSE to ignore the rules, including four board members and seven coaches.

Tell me – how is it fair to tell these people “no problem -- you are so more important than everyone else, of course we’ll let you ignore our stated policies and bend over backwards for you”, when everyone else managed to do the right thing?!?! My comment back to her was, “It’s all a matter of priorities. We’re all busy. It’s what you decide is important that you will make your priority. If you really want your kid playing soccer, you’ll get your registration in on time.”

This disagreement has now led to the establishment of a “Registration Committee”, which I am on with five board members. The Director, who plans to step down after the Spring season, is not one of them; next year’s “elected” Director (the one who protested the least when every other board member elected him) is on it with me. He has a similar mindset to mine, so the situation will hopefully improve. We’re also gunning to take registration online for the Spring season, so that might eliminate a lot of the paperwork crap I deal with.

So, if anyone does read this, what do you think? Is it fair to ignore the rules for a few? Have you had a similar experience with a youth sport or other area of your life? And what ever happened to just doing the right thing?

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