So there I was at the Baltimore airport on my way to my 4th of July weekend vacation. I look at my phone and there's a message from an area code that I wasn't used to seeing. So on my way to the baggage claim I decided out of curiosity to call the number. Oh how I wish I hadn't.
As I dialed the number on my IPhone, on the other end of the line came a voice of a producer from a radio station in Cleveland who asked "You got a few minutes for an interview with our radio host?" So I said, "Sure." Big mistake!
Little did I know that who was about to come on the other end of the line was one of the noted "shock jocks" of the Cleveland listening area. If you've ever heard some of these guys then you know what I mean when I say that the shock jock's one goal is to rattle the guy on the other end of the line so that the guy sounds like an idiot. I'm sure he succeeded with me. I completely lost it.
He came on to say "You're name is Fred Engh?" And I say, "Yes, that's me." From there everything went downhill. He decided to rip me up one side and down the other because of a column I had written whereby I congratulated a local recreation department for cancelling an all-star game for 5-6 year olds.
He began to call me everything acceptable on public radio and saying things like, "I bet you never played sports in your life and you're taking your frustrations out on this community." "You are such a jerk." He continued, "How can you even suggest that it's a good idea not to have a baseball game for kids on the 4th of July, for God's sake." He even called me a "wimp." Can you imagine?
When I finally got a chance to get a word in edge-wise I said to him, "No one's suggesting that it's not good to have a baseball game on the 4th of July. After all, baseball and hot dogs on the 4th of July is an American tradition. What isn't, is for a group of parents selecting kids at an age where they can barely tie their shoes to be playing in an all-star game while telling all the other kids in the league to sit down and watch these amazing kids play baseball." I said since the 4th is such a family day, why not have an activity where everyone gets a chance to play.
He would have none of it as he continued in the typical shock jock manner to berate me for being un-American along with a few other choice comments. And he kept calling me a "wimp."
What I could never get a chance to tell him was that the bottom line is that all-star teams have forever divided what could and should be a great and fun experience for all into parents losing complete perspective as to what kids' sports are all about, battles over coaches selecting their own kids, unbelievable pressure on kids to win and a host of other experiences which have placed a black eye on kids' sports for years.
I'm sure he wouldn't agree but the one thing I regretted the most is at the end of my tongue lashing I forgot to say, "Oh, by the way, about me never playing sports? For your information, I was a prep school wrestler for four years and even made it to the All-American level ...so stick that in your hat Mr. Shock Jock!"
Have a happy 4th of July everyone!