Friday, May 06, 2005

Far Western Volleyball 2005 pt 2 (FAB Fiftyitis)

Speaking of priorities, I was standing by the Splash sideline in their Saturday match with Empire 16 when a the Splash left hit a hard ball down the line. The players on the Splash sideline started to howl at the referees “out” call and their coach turned around and let them know in no uncertain terms that their job was to support their team not to second guess referees. That done, he then turned to the ref said something and the call was reversed. He turned back to the players and more or less said,”See, that’s the way we do it.”I don't necessarily like "military style" coaching, but I found myself thinking, hey even if this guy doesn't win the match, that was pretty cool.

It was one of those point for point matches that Empire eventually won in the third after breaking out of a 9-9 tie with a block and a backrow kill by the Empire setter. An Empire Middle who was playing for the first time in four weeks after a stress fracture put the match away with a block. Splash had maybe the best 8th grader I’ve ever seen #1 playing on the left. Primary passer at times, unbelievably athletic hitter, and remarkable poise. She looked to be 5’8" at most.

Her dad was cheering her on loudly from the seats in the back and in true volleydad fashion I started trying to figure out how tall the father was and then wondering if this #1 might eventually have more of a future as a setter.It occurs to me though that I’m not a coach, player, or college recruiter, I’m just a parent who sometimes writes very long posts about tournaments I attended. I really don’t know anything about this stuff and why the heck am I concerned with kids I’ll never meet?

I just happened to have a copy of the DSM4 on hand and looked up Fab Fiftyitis. Fab Fiftyitis: A syndrome that first appeared in the late 1990’s among junior volleyball coaches, parents, and sometimes players. Originally named for the only reason most people even subscribed to Volleyball Magazine, it is a self-image disorder very similar to anorexia in which victims insist that their own players or daughters are never tall enough, fast enough, or jump well enough to be noticed by college recruiters.

symptoms Axis 1:a) victims never really see volleyball matches in the present tense.They talk constantly about potential and constantly compare all setters to Misty May and all hitters to Kristin Folkl. (see Lantagneosity, a now very rare condition that disappeared after the spread of the internet)b) small but very good volleyball players become virtually invisible even when they have an impact on the actual match.c) they talk repeatedly about a single kill or even about how they saw a hand at the top of the antenna. (see also Aspergers Syndrome)but forget about who won the match.d) They obsess over players or children not being recruited or not appearing on lists compiled by someone called Jtawa.

Axis 2:a) in prolonged cases, victims appear to be obsessed with volleyball and post constantly on complaining about various injustices. They do not, however, enjoy watching their own kids play anymore.b) victims are often seen at their children’s volleyball matches yelling at referees, criticizing playing time, making faces, etc. In some cases, they start hanging out with coaches after matches and drinking to excess after failing to qualify (see Alcoholism)c) victims will know the names of all division 1 head coaches better than the names of their children’s teachers.d) sometimes parents/coaches who actually get kids on the right lists or even the Fab 50 itself become more seriously ill than those who don't. they often confuse this with being a great parent or coach and take the credit for themselves. (see Delusions of Grandeur)

Treatment:While children generally grow up, victims of Fab Fiftyitis are sometimes trapped in emotional adolesence in which they over idenitify with their own child’s success on the court possibly for lack of other sources of self-esteem in their own lives. This can be confusing for others because they will often do adult things very competently. They drive, they pay club bills, they hold responsible jobs during the week, but they will become unhinged at volleyball events with surprisingly little provocation.

One way to deal with this in the short term is to tell them that they are either a really good coach and you appreciate everything that person has done or that their daughter is really coming along and got cheated out of appearing on whater list she might have appeared on.This will generally placate the individual and allow you enough time to get yourself out of danger.

Longterm treatment is more difficult. Scholarship offers certainly help, but even then serious sufferers will then often start complaining about playing time and coach’s using the wrong offense for the available talent. Anti-depressants can also help to minimize symptoms.

There has been reported success with a 7 step brief therapy process.

1) Victims must first admit to themselves that volleyball really isn’t all that important even if your kid is really good at it.

2) Victims must accept responsiblity for going about their lives as if the above is actually true.

3) Victims should enjoy their player/children’s progress. They must stop comparing them to other players especially ones who don’t really exist (see High Performance Tryouts). Say “What a great kill.”“Great hustle”, etc. Instead of “At the college level that would have been blocked.” or “Too bad that left is only 5’6”

4) Victims should be thankful that their children are doing something healthy, wholesome, and are working on a goal whether they win or lose. mantra: “They could be dating Charlie O’connell” or “Emulating the parties on the OC” “Kevin Federline is not calling her cellphone”

5) Victims should understand that even though they offer scholarships to 10th graders, that doesn’t mean that it’s a good thing or even right. Don’t you remember kids who started talking about college applications, studying for the SAT, as 9th graders, used to be the nerdy ones. Your daughter can actually enjoy junior volleyball without ever even getting a sniff as a d3 walkon. It may be healthier not to worry about these things until at least the end of junior year.

6) Many successful adult women were never on the Fab 50. Some of them were even star college players before they became successful adults.

7)Enjoy being a parent/coach and have fun with your kid while she’s still a kid. Make sure that tournament’s stay fun regardless of the result.

In the last year or so, there have been genuinely scary stories about epidemics of food poisoning, flu, staph infections passed around at various big volleyball tournaments through shared water bottles, dirty sport courts, etc. Once I perused the DSM IV, I realized that FabFiftyitis is really the most serious epidemic threatening the health of our sport, even worse than the NCVA’s impression of Bud Selig.

Some time Saturday night ( I think it was still Saturday when the PM pools ended) , I decided to find a support group for junior sports parents. It helped. I do have to say that AAU basketball parents and tennis parents are far scarier than volleyball parents. Then again, some of them get to live off their kids the rest of their lives. Unfortunately, we don’t.

In any case, I’m lucky that Mrs. Boris doesn’t have Fab Fiftyitis and is helping me work through this debilitating disease so I can someday return to being an actual effective parent and role model on Spring weekends in places like Reno and Fresno. I do have to confess that someone came out of the AA group next door and told me he used to be a volleyball coach who had overheard us and he was sure glad that he wasn't nearly as sick as we were. That sort of hurt.On Sunday, my kid’s team lost its only match to AZ Sky in excruciating fashion and I even smiled a couple times and my daughter didn't even play much.


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