Monday, April 09, 2007

Marv Marinovich: Still A Jerk

Ok, I'm not planning to turn this into a sports blog, but this story about Pat Venditte, an ambidextrous pitcher from Creighton University, reminded me of something I was thinking about a few weeks ago. Specifically, it reminded me about Drew Neitzel, the point guard for Michigan State who is also ambidextrous. (He actually shoots layups with one hand, and jump shots with the other.)

See the thing is, he's not naturally ambidextrous—he was made that way. Drew's father is a high school basketball coach who forced (his words) his son, at a very young age, to eat and brush his teeth with his left hand so that he would become equally strong with both. It worked. Drew is now the starting point guard for a Division I program, and has a better than average shot at playing in the NBA someday. But what if it hadn't?

I know the story above, because TV announcers loved to tell it and it was repeated during almost every single game that State played this year. It gets mentioned as part of the feel-good human interest backstory on a unique player, and often gets a few chuckles.

However, if Drew were not the starting point guard for a Division I program, and was instead, say .... an alcoholic truck driver or a serial killer, that exact same story would be used to illustrate what a heartless bastard Mr. Neitzel was. A cruel taskmaster who pushed his own son to unreasonable limits, all in the fruitless effort to vicariously achieve the athletic glory that he had been denied in his own youth.

Sports parents are menace on society, but as long as their relentless, overbearing attitude results in an All-American child, then no harm, no foul, I guess.

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