Tuesday, November 11, 2008


The Mango Tribe found itself in a nasty situation this past weekend. It began when I left Olivia’s soccer game to take Loverman to work. I’d called my dad and asked him to sit in on the last half of the game in our absence. On my way back to the field, my dad called told me to meet him, Olivia and the rest of her team at McDonald’s for a team lunch. Once I arrived, I was confronted with several team parents relating a nasty exchange that occurred at the end of the game when a parent from the opposing team rushed on the field, grabbed Olivia by her sleeve and aggressively berated her for spilling water on her daughter. Olivia burst into tears and tried to explain that it was an accident. My father immediately tried to console Olivia, and by the time he turned around the offending mother was nowhere to be seen.

I called Olivia aside and asked her what happened? She related the same details and recounted how frightened she was by this woman’s behavior. Olivia’s coach approached me and asked me what he’d like me to do as other parents from our team offered to act as witnesses to the event. I was flabbergasted. I wasn’t sure where to start, but decided to collect their numbers and make a call to the league’s commissioner. Let’s call him Rob.

I called Rob and he explained that he was on the field when the incident occurred, but didn’t see anything, and went on to say, “The situation had been resolved.” When I asked “how,” he assured me someone had spoken with the out-of-bounds parent. I asked, “who?” He said he wasn’t sure, but again tried to assure me that issue had been addressed. I asked if the soccer league had a policy in place to address such situations and he replied, “no.” I couldn’t believe this and informed Rob that indeed the situation had not been resolved. I told Rob I wanted this parent’s name and telephone number to speak with her directly.

Once I hung up with Rob, I called and relayed the details of the event to Loverman and he then called Rob directly, again demanding the contact info for this broad. Rob called Loverman back in less than 5 mins. with the woman’s name and telephone number. Think he had the number all the time?

Loverman immediately called the woman, introduced himself and before jumping in her ass about putting her hands on our girl and speaking to her in a menacing tone, he asked if she had been on the playing field hollering at a player. She admitted that she had, but didn’t know the child’s name. Loverman asked the woman to describe the child and after stuttering for a few seconds this is what she said----- “A colored girl with those long braid things.” No lie, four days after the election of the first African American president, this biddy is still referring to Black folks as “colored.”

This, of course, illustrated exactly what we were dealing with and we proceeded knowing this woman isn’t ready for prime time. She went on to pitifully apologize for her actions offering that she knew now that she was wrong and didn’t mean to make my daughter cry. She even said she didn’t even remember how she made her way onto the field and has no recollection of putting her hands on our girl.

After reading this woman the riot act and threatening her with legal action, Loverman instructed her to call me immediately. She did and offered another lame apology, begging us not to call the police. I put my foot further up her behind and informed her that she needed to apologize to Olivia directly. She complied. Olivia accepted her apology.

But, for us, the story doesn’t end here. I’m really peeved with how the Lansdowne Boys and Girls Club (LBGC) handled the entire situation. Why did Olivia’s coach ask me what did I want him to do 45 mins. after the fact and why did the league’s commissioner tell me there is no policy in place to address inappropriate parental/adult behavior? Why did no one step up and advocate for Olivia right there on the field? If I’d been there and someone had put their hands on a kid that wasn’t my own, I know I would have been right in that adult’s face letting them know their actions were unacceptable. Why did no one from the league contact us, why did we have to reach out and demand this contact info to attempt to get resolution for this situation?

As Loverman and I grappled with these questions, I decided to contact the LBGC president and ask him these questions. He promptly responded to my email and informed us that there is a policy in place and this offending parent has been banned from next week’s game.

I’m not sure where to go from here. I do know this incident is making me put into practice my new internal barometer--- WWBD (What Would Barack Do). Olivia hasn’t mentioned the incident since Sunday and doesn’t seem to be dwelling on what happened. Some of my anger has dissipated, but I still think more should be done, not only on Olivia’s behalf, but also to ensure a message is sent that this type of behavior will not be tolerated. I do know Lansdowne’s Boys and Girls Club needs to be doing a much better job in informing both their leadership and volunteer coaches of the league’s policies.

It’s also clear to me that as upsetting as this situation was, the divine was definitely at work, because if either me or Loverman had been present when this occurred, it would have erupted into an extremely ugly scene and Olivia wouldn’t have been the only person leaving the field in tears.

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