AP NEWS

Parental support run amok

March 29, 2019

“The best place to be a coach is at an orphanage.” — Ed Faulkner

Ed is a friend of mine who had a fine career as a high school basketball coach. In exchange for his guidance and underlying affection, his players could put up with a style that was more Brillo than Charmin.

In one of his seasons at Brien McMahon High School in Norwalk, with a stellar assemblage, his team won a state championship.

One of the tribulations of the coach, of course, is dealing with the parents of players. Some of Ed’s players went on to play college basketball. Not as many, of course, as whose parents were convinced they were Division I scholarship candidates.

Parents believe in their children — for the most part; more on that later.

Trust me, my wife and I did not write the book on parenting. In fact, despite the shelves full of books on the topic at your local library, there is actually no “The Book” on parenting. My wife and I tried to do the best we could to support and encourage our children.

Our four children all played soccer to one degree or another.

One of them was good enough to have been recruited by two Division III schools and ended up attending and playing briefly at Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y.

Division III schools do not offer athletic scholarships. But our daughter’s skill as a soccer player most likely factored into whatever formula is used to determine acceptance. I don’t know what the mechanics of the Hamilton admission process are, but I’m sure the soccer coach at the time had the ability to put a word in that she had an interest in this particular applicant.

Julia was academically qualified, as well. She played her freshman year and moved on to other interests.

Parents, naturally, are deeply concerned with their children’s future, invested in their dreams and ready to do whatever they can to help them advance.

The means to do that varies wildly.

Rudy Meredith’s was a name that was always mentioned in near reverential terms in Connecticut junior soccer circles, circles I traveled in for many years, as a coach, administrator and parent, when our kids, particularly Julia, were playing the sport.

After all, the coach of women’s soccer at Yale held a pretty high position in the specialized hierarchy of the sport in Connecticut.

There are so-called helicopter parents, hovering always in protective cover.

Then there are those — bulldozer parents, some call them — as we’ve seen in the recent news of the college admissions scandal, who either didn’t have the confidence in their own kid’s ability to make it on his or her own, and wanted to skip the effort and uncertainty of getting into college and bought the kid’s entrance into a fine school.

Parents of kids who never played a sport wangled their way into elite American universities by paying coaches to tell admissions officers they were recruits.

Meredith pleaded guilty to his role in accepting a bribe — $400,000 — to put a kid’s name on his soccer preference list and getting them into Yale.

It’s a wide-ranging scandal. Obviously, for every kid accepted in the charade, someone was left out.

It’s another sad example of the disparity in opportunity for children in America. Parents in cities like Bridgeport want a better life for their kids, too.

Criminal schemes by the wealthy are not the answer. Preparing kids for life’s challenges — as individual parents and as a community — is the best way to support them.

Michael J. Daly is retired editor of the Connecticut Post editorial page. Email: Mike.Daly@hearstmediact.com.