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5 Minutes, 5 Questions With… Earl Austin, Jr., author of You Might Need a Jacket

JoeyPinkney.com Exclusive Interview
5 Minutes, 5 Questions With…
Earl Austin, Jr., author of You Might Need A Jacket
(PriorityBooks Publishing)

earl austin you might need a jacket on amazondotcom

(One of the first ten people to comment on Earl Austin, Jr.’s author interview will win a FREE COPY of You Might Need a Jacket.)

(Congratulations to Octavia for winning the FREE COPY of Earl Austin Jr.’s You Might Want a Jacket.)

Behind every successful, young athlete, there is a highly-motivated parent obsessed with the idea of their son or daughter becoming a big sports star. Earl Austin Jr.’s latest book, You Might Need A Jacket: Hilarious Stories of Wacky Sports Parents, is dedicated to those mothers and fathers and other loved ones who go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure their children’s success in the athletic arena. Way, way beyond.

In twenty-two years of covering amateur and youth sports in St. Louis, Austin has virtually seen it all from the sidelines and now he is sharing some of those funny stories with you in his new publication. Be ready to laugh out loud. This delightful book contains nearly 200 stories and anecdotes that chronicle the activities of “Strait-Jacket Parents,” which is the term created by Austin and his friends that describes these overzealous sports parental units. Some of these stories may be hard to believe, but they are all true. They range from the funny and cute to the strange and truly bizarre.

Earl recounts such humorous stories as:
*The proud mother who spent thousands of dollars to have bobble-head dolls made her daughter’s likeness while she was a high school basketball player
*The out-of-control father who ended up being arrested, tasered and taken away in handcuffs from his eight-year old son’s youth football game
*The nervous mother who would always wet her pants whenever her son trotted onto the football field to attempt a field goal
*The overzealous father who sent his eight-year old son to seventeen basketball camps in just one summer

Joey Pinkney: Where did you get the idea and inspiration to write You Might Need A Jacket?

Earl Austin, Jr.: On Friday nights during the high school sports season, a group of us usually gathered at a local restaurant after the games to discuss the games that we’ve just witnessed. After a while, we found ourselves talking more about the wild behavior of some of the parents at these games than the actual game itself. One of my buddies tells me, “Earl, you should write a book about this stuff.” The stories kept getting wilder and more amusing to the point where I just started keeping a collection and started writing them down.

After several years, I finally decided to put all of these stories together and put them into a book. It gives all of us adults a chance to really look at ourselves and have a laugh about how some of us get a little carried away when it comes to our children’s athletic endeavors. Then we can begin to focus on what is really important about sports; which is the children who are actually competing.

JP: In your twenty-two years of covering sports, what is the funniest incident you witnessed in person?

EA: Wow! There were so many. I guess the one that immediately comes to mind was when I attended a youth basketball tournament and watched a game between two third-grade teams. It turned out to be one of the wildest games that I’ve ever seen. These kids were eight and nine years old, but from watching the parents carry on, you would have thought they had bet their paychecks on the game. When they weren’t screaming at the coaches and the referees, they were yelling at their own kids and the kids on the other team. They were out of control from the start.

The coach of one team got kicked out of the game in the first half for yelling at the referee too much. At the scorer’s table, two parents almost got into a big fight because one parent thought the other parent was trying to cheat his son’s team with the score. The capper came in the second half when the coach of the other team became involved with the referees. This particular coach was wheelchair bound. He started barking at the referee when he disagreed with one of his calls. The referee just turned his back and walked away, ignoring the coach.

The coach did not like being ignored, so he turns on his motorized wheelchair on full-speed and motors on the court in an effort to run down the referee. Luckily, the referee turns around and sees the man in the wheelchair coming at him at full speed and manages to get out of the way before he is plowed into. The coach then turns his chair around, then tries to run the referee over again. By then, his coach’s wife comes on the court and manages to calm him down and get him off the court. I was laughing so hard, I had tears streaming down my face. I had never seen anything like that before.

JP: As an author, what are the keys to your success that lead to You Might Need A Jacket getting out to the public?

I have a passion for writing that is unquenchable. It started with newspapers, but now with books, I can really take my writing to another level. Also, being a part of the sports media for the past two decades has given me a good amount of visibility in the community, and I am blessed for it. Plus, this subject matter is something that hits home with a majority of people because so many people are involved in youth sports as a participant, coach, official or doting parent or loved one.

Regardless of your race, gender, nationality or personal background, we all love our children. We all want them to be the best at whatever they do. So many people may see themselves in You Might Need a Jacket or they know someone who is a straitjacket parent. It relates to so many people from different walks of life.

I also have to give a lot of credit to my publisher Rose Beavers at Prioritybooks Publications. She has opened my eyes to a whole new world of how to get my book marketed and out to the masses in a variety of ways. Not only is Rose a good publisher, but she is a good friend and mentor.

JP: As an author, what is your writing process? How long did it take for you to start and finish You Might Need A Jacket?

EA: It took a few months to write the book. This one wasn’t as difficult because I had all the stories collected and in my head. It was just a matter of sitting down and putting them on paper. In other books I do on sports history, it takes a little longer because I’m doing a lot of research and interviews along with the writing and editing part of it. Those books usually take at least a year for me to write.

JP: What’s next for Earl Austin, Jr.?

EA: It looks like I will be writing a follow up to You Might Need a Jacket. People have been sending me stories of more strait-jacket parent behavior, so a sequel is in the works. I am also a sports historian here in St. Louis, so I have been working on a series of books on high school sports history in the St. Louis area. I’ve done two books already and will continue to write more in the near future.


Earl Austin Jr. is the sports editor of the St. Louis American, one of the top African-American newspapers in the county. He is also a radio talk show host and basketball color commentator for St. Louis University. You can contact Earl Austin Jr. at eaustin@stlamerican.com.

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