Teachers, coaches, parents, classmates and entire towns do a tremendous disservice by giving a star athlete special treatment.

True story. After playing big-time college football, the most popular, best looking kid in my high school class turned into a drug addict who robbed the unsuspecting, aging parents of his friends and lived under a bridge.

I always wondered if his receiving kid-glove treatment due to his athletic prowess was the reason.

If the kid deserves to be failed, fail him. If he deserves to be suspended, suspend him. If he deserves to be arrested, arrest him.

Here is some advice for athletes, coaches and administrators worth keeping in mind this school year:

From the ages of 12-18, there is nothing more important than being popular. From the ages of 19-99 there is nothing less important than having been popular from 12-18.

If all your friends are athletes, you are shallow.

A lot of middle-aged guys who can't play ball with their kids today thought they were doing the right thing playing with pain. Listen to your body.

A real athlete never misses a game or a practice for a dance, a concert or Senior Skip Day.

Coaches Award winners tend to be more successful in life than team MVPs.

Humility is a virtue. False humility makes you a bore.

Your coach doesn't have it in for you. Repeat, your coach doesn't have it in for you.

Always give a kid a second chance.

Be a three-sport athlete. You think that 155th AAU game of the year is making you a better player? The number of athletes who do one sport year-round who blow out their knees or quit from burnout is frightening. Ask any college coach, they prefer three-sport athletes.

It is easier to get into an Ivy League school than to earn a full boat. And that's a fact.

Go out of your way to befriend the fat kid, the kid with acne problems or the kid with the troubled home life.

Ted Williams was dead wrong. The toughest thing in sports isn't hitting a baseball. It's being a parent of an athlete. Good parents shut their mouths, stay glued to their seats and let the players play, the coaches coach and the officials officiate. You won't always be successful, but give it your best shot to spare your child a heap of embarrassment.

Forget everything your AAU or travel team coach taught you.

No matter how unsatisfying the season may have been for you, never skip the team banquet, it's the ultimate slap in the face to your teammates and coaches.

Play for the love of the game and only the love of the game.

You're not going to make the pros. Our 23-school region has sent a total of two players to the NHL and sends about one baseball player and one football player to the pros every 20 years. We've never produced an NBA player. You have a far better chance of becoming a brain surgeon.

Any coach who swears too much is a lousy coach and an even worse role model.

The undersized benchwarmer who doesn't miss practice in four years should be more admired than the all-scholastic quarterback who can barely fit his head in his helmet.

You'll never regret having said no to alcohol, drugs and sex in high school.

Tattoos make you look like a punk.

Right, wrong or indifferent, colleges covet scholar-athletes. A star athlete with 1,250 on his SATs with a 3.6 GPA can go to the Ivy Leagues. A regular student with those grades would be laughed out of any Ivy League admissions department.

Any coach or athletic director who drones on about "kids nowadays" should get out of the business. Same goes for those whining about being underpaid.

If a coach positively affected your life, write him/her a thank you note. You'll have a friend for life.

You have the rest of your life to get a job.

If your coach instructs you to cheapshot an opponent, quit the team immediately.

Treat the team manager with the same respect as the star of the team.

A coach who makes fun of a boy's weight is a boor. A coach who makes fun of a girl's weight is dangerous.

Any coach/athletic director who voluntarily hosts invitational events is a gem.

Any athletic director who doesn't have rosters for the fans for state tourney games isn't doing his job.

Administrators must stand up to meddlesome parents or it will be a slippery slide to chaos. Ask anybody in Londonderry.

The size of your nose, biceps or breasts is inconsequential to anybody who truly cares about you.

A good captain will lead his team to a Super Bowl title. A great one will take a stand against hazing.

It's never too late to change.

A loss should hurt like hell. Getting thrown out of a game should hurt even more.

Steroids make you a bigger athlete and a smaller person.

Always feed the benchwarmer the ball at the end of a blowout.

Don't listen to the coach who cut you. Work like the dickens and shock the world next year.

Let the games begin.

Michael Muldoon is sports editor of The Eagle-Tribune. E-mail him at mmuldoon@eagletribune.com.

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