To commemorate my 10th anniversary here at Wednesday Journal, I am re-running some columns from years past. Why? Because I am also the sports editor, which enables me to do what I want. This column first ran April 17, 2002, yet it still has relevance.

Job description: The new hire for this position will teach, babysit, coddle, discipline and develop young athletes while receiving self-satisfaction, fulfillment and possibly emotional distress for the effort. The monetary pay is minimal (two buttons and a shoelace) but the emotional reward (or punishment) is astronomical. The hours range anywhere from all day and all night weekly to all night and all day daily. There’s a 15-minute break in there somewhere, but don’t expect to have the time to take the full 15 minutes, or a break at all for that matter.

Job qualifications: The job candidate must be willing to work mornings, afternoons, evenings and weekends. You must possess a relative understanding of the sport, of teamwork, of the concept of competition and of sportsmanship.

The job applicant should possess a strong sense of resilience to harsh, vocal, public, and at times maniacal criticism. This includes being impervious to blatant and childish insults from irrational parents. You must be willing to change your stance on controversial issues if top brass (athletic directors or superintendents) see fit. You must be willing to work 24/7; that’s 24 times more than a typical seven-day work week. You must be able to ride in a big yellow bus and put up with a wicked amount of noise pollution, not to mention an unspeakable degree of road rage.

The job applicant should possess an overabundance of determination to exceed beyond expectations. You must be able to teach young athletes how to win and make sure they do win. If they lose, you must be able to teach them never to lose again. But if they do lose, you’ll need to instruct them on that whole losing-with-dignity thing.

The job applicant must be cool, calm and collected in pressure situations, whether during a game when an incompetent official has blown a call or at a team dinner when someone has swiped the last slice of pineapple pizza. You must be able to fill out arcane paperwork about grades and eligibility and draw up (in stone if applicable) an extensive list of your team’s reasonable, accurate, and universal rules and regulations. You must be willing to compromise, inconspicuously of course, these rules and regulations for the betterment of your team’s overall record. If by chance you’re accused of being inconsistent with certain consequences, then at no time are you to divulge your reasoning to administrative officials, for they will side with those against you. You are not to hold that against the administration, just accept and be happy with the decision put forth on your behalf.

The job applicant should have a lawyer standing by in the event of legal ramifications. You must also, even after many years on the job, never think you are above the athletic administration. There’s a hierarchy that exists within athletics that goes well beyond this position. Tenure helps your cause, but in the end tenure is as moot as dust on a sawhorse. The job applicant must remember this or face the consequences — and we’re not talking about a few weeks of mandatory gym classes as opposed to study hall! We’re talking about throwing you to the wolves (irate parents). After all, they’re the ones who ultimately run the show.

Note: This job is not unlike that of sports editor for a weekly newspaper.


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Brad Spencer

Brad Spencer has been covering sports in and around Oak Park for more than a decade, which means the young athletes he once covered in high school are now out of college and at home living with their parents...