Canada, Gender, Lawsuit of the Day, Sports

Lawyer of the Day: Dad Badgers Little Girl into Quitting Hockey Team

They take hockey pretty seriously up north.

Is there anything more pathetic than a “sports dad”? You know, one of those middle-aged losers who takes his kid’s athletic competitions way too seriously because he wants little Junior to “be a winner” — a title the father undoubtedly never achieved in his own life? I hate these punks, and if I ever have children I’m going to really enjoy heckling the sports dads who heckle children (then getting the living crap beat out of me, and suing their pants off for assault).

In my limited experience with the sports dad, I’ve generally assumed that higher education is a great tonic to this phenomenon. I think that if you’ve actually accomplished things in your life (or if you at least have the intellectual curiosity to read about people who have accomplished things in their lives), you come to understand that a kiddie sporting event isn’t something to get all worked up about.

So when I read this latest story about a dad menacing a pee-wee hockey team, I was dismayed to learn that the culprit is a lawyer. A tipster sent in the story with the subject line “more proof that lawyers are a**holes,” but I had thought that lawyers only behaved badly around childhood sports when some kid takes a puck to the face and the lawyer/parent tries to sue the entire league into the ground.

I didn’t know that lawyers would use their powers to humiliate and embarrass little girls who weren’t playing all that well…

Even worse, this whole thing is happening in Canada, a place where I thought people were supposed to be nice. The Toronto Star has the report about a hockey team comprised of 12-year-olds:

The controversy that seized the Toronto Ice Dogs PeeWee “A” club — minor hockey’s lowest level of competitive play — emerged last month at a parents’ meeting called by George Atis, who has a child on the team, but is not part of the coaching staff.

The Thornhill lawyer drafted the agenda which included this item: “Kayla Watkins — Player Ability Limitations and Suggested Options.”

“It is now 14 games into the season and I have noticed that Kayla’s play has not improved,” the agenda reads. “It is at the point where many of the team members do not want to play on this team if this situation is not addressed.”

Problem #1: Unless there are suspicions of sexual or physical abuse, or if you are organizing some kind of bake sale to raise money for the team, there is NO REASON for a parents to be having meetings about pee-wee hockey teams. Christ. Don’t these parents have anything better to do? And by “better to do” I literally mean “sitting and watching trees grow to make sure your children have enough oxygen in the future” (a better use of parental time than having a meeting about 12-year-old hockey).

Problem #2: Are you a coach of the team? No? Then nobody gives a damn about what you have “observed” regarding the play of a 12-year-old. She’s freaking 12 and she can ice skate. Isn’t that enough? Do we really need to have video tape of how she runs the breakout after the puck gets dumped in the zone (I bet you thought I didn’t know anything about hockey)?

Problem #3: Agenda items for a parents-only youth hockey meeting? Are you goddamn serious? I bet this George Atis guy is one of those lawyers who will say to his wife on Christmas Day: “By accepting these diamond earrings you implicitly agree to allow me to make love to your anus this evening.” Only a lawyer would put the hockey skills of a 12-year-old girl on his “agenda” for a meeting about a team he does not coach.

There’s more backstory here. Atis has a son on the team, Kayla Watkins is the only girl on the team, but Kayla’s mother, Vanessa Watkins, is the team manager (which is not the same as the head coach, just FYI). That allows Atis to pull crap like this:

Atis also raised concerns about Kayla changing in the same locker-room as the boys, stating, “there have been many ‘near miss’ incidents where the boys have almost been exposed to Kayla.”…

In an interview Monday, Atis defended the agenda, saying it voiced concerns from boys on the team who were both squeamish about undressing in front of Kayla and frustrated with her play on the ice.

Yeah, if you have a co-ed hockey team, you’re going to have the occasional “near miss.” Do you have any evidence of a “direct hit”? If not, then STFU, please. If you are going to argue that Kayla is sexually harassing these boys, then argue that. If you are going to argue that boys and girls should not play hockey together, then argue that. But don’t go on a tirade about whether or not a 12-year-old is good at hockey and then try to slip in the mere appearance of sexual impropriety to strengthen your point when you have no evidence that anything actually happened. If this were a trial, the judge would be directing the jury to disregard Atis’s innuendo. Of course, if this ridiculousness is any indication of how Atis thinks, he should probably be disregarded at all times, just as a precaution.

But here’s the worst thing that Atis said:

“I lay the blame, if you must know, at the feet of Vanessa Watkins . . . If it was my child, he would have never been in that position because I would not have put him on a team where he was not competing and where he was a liability to the team.”

Oh, blow it out your a**hole. We’ve all met guys like you, Mr. Atis. I highly doubt you’re the kind of understanding parent who would pull your kid off of a hockey team if he wasn’t competing up to the level of the league. Instead, you sound much more like the type of douchebag who would berate your own kid so much for his sucky play that he’d grow up to be the only Canadian on Earth who hates hockey.

Speaking of your son, how do you think things are going for your kid on his hockey team now? Do you really think all of his teammates are slapping him on the back, congratulating him for having a dad who throws a hissy fit when somebody is playing poorly? Or do you think it’s more likely that the other kids on the team are thinking “Wow, Atis’s dad is a dick. I hope he doesn’t talk about my skills at his next meeting. Let’s not sit next Atis at lunch time.”

As for Kayla, she left the team:

Since quitting the Ice Dogs, Kayla has moved to the all-girls North York Storm.

She may miss the challenge of playing with boys. But the culture is far more welcoming, she says.

“Everyone’s nice to each other. It doesn’t matter if we win or lose. If we lose a game, it’s okay because everyone picks each other up.”

Good for her and her family. Way to (a) not dignify his veiled sexism with a lawsuit and (b) not kill yourself. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t buy into this weak hippie crap that says people shouldn’t even keep score at children’s sporting matches. As Herm Edwards is fond of saying, “You play to win the game.” But the beauty of having children play sports is that they learn how to handle winning and losing. “Everyone picks each other up” is the lesson kids are supposed to be getting out of tough losses.

Evidently, that’s a lesson George Atis never learned. All he learned how to do was sit in the stands, nitpick, and bully little kids. He must feel like a big important man now. But really, he should pull himself out of the line-up and leave the cheering to other parents. He’s a liability to “Team Basic Decency.”

Controversy pushes girl off coed hockey team [The Star]

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