Archive for November, 2010

Eden Prairie meeting a great experience

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to speak to approximately 80 youth basketball parents and coaches in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. The event, sponsored by the Eden Prairie Boys Basketball Association (EPBBA), also featured Eden Prairie high school boys basketball coach Dave Flom. The EBPPA purchased copies of my book “BasketCases: How Youth Basketball Parents Can Lower Their Blood Pressure and Keep Their Sanity” for 225 of their families.

Dave spoke about expectations for his program and tips about how parents can enjoy the experience. While I listened to Dave speak, I kept nodding my head because he and I share many of the same theories about youth sports and how it can teach lifelong lessons. I loved Dave’s zero-tolerance policy against parents that call or e-mail him about playing time for their sons. LOVE IT. So many coaches deal with parents who pester them about playing time, which is really sad (are those same parents going to pester their kids’ bosses in 10 years about their work assignments??).

He also told the parents not to talk negatively about another kid in front of their own. A theme that I mention every time I talk to parents. A couple of other interesting nuggets Dave mentioned:
* Eden Prairie has approximately 120 boys basketball players per grade. That number funnels down to five to seven kids per grade that will see playing time on the varsity team as a senior.
* This year, Eden Prairie had 58 ninth graders try out for the freshman team. EP kept 24 freshman on the team, which is a huge number (most probably cap it at 15). Still, that meant that Eden Prairie had to cut more freshman than it kept. Those numbers are staggering, but a reality in one of the largest school districts in Minnesota.

I had the opportunity to talk about several misunderstood rules and shared my “10 Commandments” about how to enjoy the youth basketball experience. After I spoke, Dave and I answered questions for another half hour. I want to extend my thanks to Tom Gunderson and the EPBBA board for its support of BasketCases and understanding of the importance of putting the book into the hands of parents and coaches who need it the most. 

Great Eden Prairie event scheduled for Nov. 16

Monday, November 8th, 2010

I’m looking forward to speaking to hundreds of youth basketball parents Nov. 16 in Eden Prairie, which, perhaps ironically, is where I started refereeing basketball (4th grade in-house program) more than a dozen years ago. The event is called the 2010 BasketCase Reduction. I will be speaking, along with Eden Prairie High School Boys Basketball Coach Dave Flom. Dave and I will also participate in a panel discussion with other leaders of the Eden Prairie Boys Basketball Association (EPBBA).

The EPBBA has stepped up to the plate and will provide copies of my book “BasketCases: How Youth Basketball Parents Can Lower Their Blood Pressure and Keep Their Sanity” to all families in attendance. This is a great opportunity to provide education to parents and coaches to improve the youth basketball experience.

Johnson sentenced to six years in prison for youth basketball assault

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

Robin Johnson, the man who allegedly assaulted Burnsville (MN) youth basketball commissioner Jeff Shand in February, was sentenced Wednesday to a whopping six years in prison. The sentence, in part, is severe because of Johnson’s previous criminal history.

Shortly after the incident happened, most news sources reported that the catalyst that led to the argument/assault was a timing error by the clock operator. According to a story on, that wasn’t exactly the case. The story reports:

“Witnesses told police a man began taunting a player during free throws to try to make him miss, according to a criminal complaint. Jeff Shand, a parent-organizer, approached the man and told him to stop. A man, later identified as Johnson, said he could yell if he wanted, and continued yelling as the player made a throw that won the game.”

Do I have any sympathy for Johnson? Not really. I do feel for his kid, who won’t see his father for several years. I feel sympathy for Jeff Shand who didn’t deserve this. He was assaulted for doing the right thing and trying to stop a parent from taunting a sixth grader. I feel sympathy for the city of Burnsville, which once again takes a bad rap with its name in the news.

The sad reality is that people misbehave at youth basketball games frequently. Poor sportsmanship rarely mushrooms into physical violence (although the potential always seems to be simmering and could boil over at any time), but verbal violence — to referees, to other parents, coaches and kids — or the THREAT of physical violence is commonplace in the Twin Cities and, most assuredly, on basketball courts across the country.

When I wrote ”BasketCases: How Youth Basketball Parents Can Lower Their Blood Pressure and Keep Their Sanity,” it wasn’t to specifically prevent incidents like this. I wrote it to improve the youth basketball experience across the country for parents, coaches, players and officials. In the book I mention the 85/14/1 percent ratio: 85 percent of the individuals involved with youth basketball are good people who contribute to a positive experience, 14 percent have issues that make it unpleasant for the rest of us and 1 percent are so out of line that they embarrass themselves an ruin the experience for everyone else.

Could Robin learn from reading BasketCases? Of course, but I doubt he would read it. I can’t help those who don’t want to be helped. I like to focus on the 99 percent of people who can benefit from this book. If you know people involved with youth basketball make sure you tell them about BasketCases.

Below is a link to the full story on about the Robin Johnson sentencing.



BasketCases making impressions on Facebook

Monday, November 1st, 2010

Starting tonight, I am advertising my book “BasketCases: How Youth Basketball Parents Can Lower Their Blood Pressure and Keep Their Sanity” on Facebook. Individuals in Minnesota and Texas between 30 and 55 who indicated that basketball in an interest will likely see the advertisement. Individuals who click on the advertisement will be directed to my web site,