An unfortunate “experience”
One of the things that’s always been great about fastpitch softball has been how fan-friendly it’s been at the highest levels. I’ve watched as members of the Chicago Bandits stood in the rain to sign autographs and talk to fans for as long as those fans wanted to be there. I’ve seen examples of well-known players (at least in the softball world) make themselves very accessible no matter where they are or what else they happen to be doing.
So it was disappointing to hear the stories of two of my students who attended a recent clinic in Wisconsin. It was billed as an “Experience” and featured a famous player who also happened to be someone both of them admired greatly. Yet it seems like her fame has gone to her head, as her behavior seemed more like a Major League Baseball star rather than a softball player.
My students (and their mothers) told me the famous player spent the entire time talking or texting on her mobile phone. She had no time for the girls, didn’t interact with them, and essentially acted the diva. When one of the moms stopped her between calls to thank her for sending some autographed materials to her daughter a couple of years previously, after her daughter had survived a vicious attack by a dog, she said “Oh, my mom did that. I don’t get into that stuff” or something to that effect.
Unbelievable. Even if that’s true, you smile gracefully and say you were glad to do it. Instead, she treated the encounter more like an inconvenience.
The word from the parents is several people left the clinic before it was over, complaining about the attitude of the star player and asking for their money back. They were completely dissatisfied, and doubtless will tell their friends and teammates to avoid it in the future. That’s a shame, too, because I understand there were two other national team players there plus a young lady from the NPF, and all were terrific. But…
The fact is people came because of the star’s fame, and her refusal to be a part of her own clinic tainted the experience for many.
Hopefully, that was just an aberration. I’d hate to think our sport is going the way of so many others, where players feel they’re too good to mix with the fans who ultimately pay for all they have. If that is the case, imagine what it will be like if and when the players ever start being paid real money instead of the token salaries they get now. We may wish for the good old days of salaries that are less than your typical fast food worker makes.
As for the star, hopefully she was just having a bad day. But I get the feeling that wasn’t it. I just hope she realizes the error of her ways before she disappoints any more youngsters who look up to her.