April 24, 2012
The desperate emails started arriving not long ago: “We need coaches!”
I had signed up my 6-year-old son for a recreational baseball league in St. Paul. This would be a big year, since he’s finally old enough for a “coach pitch” team instead of the T-ball squad.
After the call went out for volunteer coaches, I agreed to step up. True, I’d been a weak-hitting infielder back in my Little League days… kind of a 7th-grade Denny Hocking … but I’d be able to show those tykes a thing or two.
It wasn’t long before I encountered one of those “times have sure changed” moments that made me feel like a budding Joe Soucheray. The email welcoming new coaches included a link to site that authorizes a criminal background check.
Here I thought I’d be knocking balls around, yelling “Play’s at first!” Instead, I’m clicking through to an ominous The McDowell Agency site and its TRUE Background Screening™ process. Before I could teach kids to run through the bag at first, I had to agree to this:
“I authorize all persons, schools, companies, corporations, state agencies, federal agencies, and law enforcement agencies to release information without restriction or qualification to The McDowell Agency, Inc.”
It’s one of those unfortunate things in modern life that sadly makes sense. I don’t blame the recreation league for going this route. You don’t want some psycho killer or sex offender coaching your kids. Still, it’s a jarring sign-of-the-times that Dad has to undergo such a rigorous background check just to coach his kid’s baseball team.
No chance Morris Buttermaker, the sloppy drunk who coached the rag-tag “Bad News Bears,” would have gotten through the TRUE Background Screening™ gauntlet.