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Having kids in sports requires concessions

Of all the fun ways to spend a Thursday evening, working the concession stand at a middle school basketball game isn't one of them. Yes, I know we need to support our children in their legitimate extra-curricular activities. Otherwise they might become involved in extra-curricular activities that aren't so legitimate, such as drug-dealing, promiscuity or politics (excuse the redundancy). I also understand that, as a parent whose children participate, it's my responsibility to help fund those activities so the burden doesn't fall on taxpayers. The school system needs tax money for other purposes, such as books, supplies, salary supplements for principals whose schools are overcrowded, and trailers so they can overcrowd the schools. That's why, through the years, I've tried to do my part. I've sold program ads, participated in fundraisers and written checks roughly equivalent to the gross national product of Uruguay. And, of course, I've worked the concession stand. Don't get me wrong - concession stand duty has its benefits. One is that you get to know the other parents in a more intimate, cooperative setting. This is important because the only other time you see them is when they're sucking up to the coaches so their kids get to play ahead of yours. Another great thing is all the free pizza, hot dogs, soft drinks and candy bars you get to eat while working the concession stand. Oh, wait ... my wife just told me those weren't free. Guess I owe somebody $27.50. On the other hand, to paraphrase Nobel Prize-winning novelist William Faulkner, who once ran the Oxford, Miss., post office, it can become a bit tiresome to be at the constant beck and call of any darned fool with $2 in his pocket. Especially when the darned fool is 13 years old with iPod earbuds shoved deep into his aural cavities and a heightened sense of entitlement. (I'm sure I speak for lots of parents when I say that if MY children feel a sense of entitlement, they didn't get it from me. I've worked for everything I have, by golly, and I've never felt entitled to anything. Except maybe schools with high SAT scores. And a neighborhood in which home values are constantly rising, populated only by people I approve of. But other than that ...) I don't mean to lump all middle-schoolers together. Some of them are quite well-mannered - roughly the same percentage as those who aren't wearing anything from Abercrombie and Fitch. In fact, there's a clear correlation between those two groups. But the majority of them just seem to think that, since I'm standing behind the counter at a concession stand, my sole reason for existence is to bring them a slice of pepperoni pizza and a Dr. Pepper. Which, I suppose, it is. Provided I haven't already eaten all the pepperoni pizza. E-mail Rob Jenkins at rjenkinsgdp@yahoo.com.