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by Wendy Vapors, 7/28/00

Dc: This is DCR, it's not the news.
Obsessive sports parents are in the news, they're raging and they're all the rage at the same time. But little attention is paid to a number of programs that are aimed at turning these wayward adults into reasonable, productive members of society. Wendy Vapors reports.

(sfx: children playing a sport)

Doug: Come on, Hillary! Keep moving out there. Keep it going. There's the ball! Get the ball! Go, go, go! Dig, Dig!
Ref! REF! She was tripped! Are you gonna call that? Aren't you gonna call that?
Hey REF, I'm talking to YOU!

Wendy: Doug Vicarious is a regular at his daughter Hillary's soccer games, but Hillary, her friends, the referees, the coaches, all the other players and their parents desperately wish he had something else to do.

Other Mom: He's just obnoxious, you know? He stands out here yelling at the girls, the officials, the coaches, everybody. We all agree, he needs to get a life.

Wendy: Until recently, Doug Vicarious would have argued with this mom, who asked to remain anonymous.

Other Mom: I actually told him once … I said … "why don't you go somewhere else? Because nobody here wants you around."

Wendy: You actually said that to him?

Other Mom: That's not all. I gave him 20 dollars and I said "go to a movie." "Buy yourself some popcorn and whenever you get the urge to shout, stuff it, honey."

Wendy: And did he do it?

Other Mom: Sure he did. He had to or Hillary and I weren't gonna let him back in the house.

Wendy: But that was only a temporary "fix," as Doug Vicarious later realized.

Doug: I realized I needed help when I was chewing out a coach for a substitution he made. He took Hillary out of the game and put this other girl in, and that girl's father came over and decked me.
And I thought, wow, that guy has really lost perspective.

Wendy: And that's what got your attention?

Doug: No, what got my attention was the way all the other parents hoisted him up on their shoulders and marched him around the field, like some kind of conquering hero.

Wendy: Doug Vicarious enrolled in the Sideline Sensitivity Program, providing treatment for parents who are TOO "into" their child's sport. Dan DiMellow directs the program.

Dan: It's real simple. We bring 'em in. I talk to 'em a bit.
I ask a few simple questions. What do you do? Where do you work?

Wendy: Then what?

Dan: Then I get a carload of kids and we go to the guy's place of employment. We find out where he sits, who his boss is … we gather round his cubicle or in his office and we go to work.

Kids: Hey, Buddy, come on! Heads up! Focus, man! Keep your eye on the monitor, man! Keep working! Thatta boy! Way to go! Check your feet! Keep your feet moving! Keep your eyes moving!
Whattaya lookin' over here for!
Come on, Boss! Take him out! He's draggin' down the team!

(sfx: kids fade and stay under to end of report)

Wendy: DiMello says it takes about fifteen minutes of browbeating from the children, and the adults in the program promise never to say a word on the sidelines ever again.

DiMello: That's it, man. Treatment's done. Time to kick back.

Wendy: For his part, Doug Vicarious says the training works and he'll never take a child's athletic event too seriously again.

Doug: I learned my lesson. Those kids can be really mean. My feelings were hurt and I almost quit work all together. If my co-workers hadn't banded together to support me … a promising career might have been nipped in the bud by a few harsh words.

Wendy: A lesson for all of us.

(sfx: kids, still under, fade up)

Kids: C'mon, Wendy, wrap it up! You can do it! Quit goofing around and get down to business. What's wrong, cat got your tongue? You gettin' paid by the minute, or what? Let's go …gimmee the outcue! Let's hear it!

Wendy: Stop it, you kids! I'm doing my best!

(sfx: kids stop)

So just back off!
I'm Wendy Vapors, and I'm reporting.


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