Column: Coaches are you a leader of young adults or a whiner?

paulb

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8/11/2020

Simply can not take this whining any more from those charged with leading teams and programs. In a current Twitter discussion with a coach and one of his supporters over his tweet that said if the football season was cancelled he demands the government and the media (why the media I have no idea it doesn’t make sense to his complaint.) to come and tell the truth to his team as to why they can’t play. He demands to know why some club sports can keep playing but they won’t be able to.

He got support from many and many other coaches stating he is fighting for his players that the kids were “owed” an explanation. I have seen many posts like this and really try hard to stay out of such stupid conversations but enough is enough.

Let me first ask the coach what his job is? Is it to win or is it to teach and coach kids and young adults the very special lessons that come from playing and competing in sports? If it is to win…you’re fired, get out, I wouldn’t have you around a program for 2 seconds if that is your first goal. Winning comes from instilling qualities like goal setting, loyalty, work ethic, empathy, unity and so many other lessons that can not be taught in a math class. This is why sports are important and needed in schools.

So if you are a character builder then start showing some here. What did you do as the Head Coach to prepare to try and play this Fall? Did you take the President’s Medical experts seriously or decide that others that have no experience in the medical field other than buying aspirin from the drug store knew more about Covid 19? Did you get with all the other schools you play, did the State Association come out strong with what needed to be done so you could play? Or did you start complaining then?

So now that reality is slapping you in the face because somehow the cancellation of Spring sports, the NCAA Basketball Tourney, the Kentucky Derby, the Olympics, baseball, soccer, basketball and so on apparently didn’t catch your attention that competing in the Fall may take more than doing nothing or claiming fake news and medical officials IN THE CURRENT Administration and STILL there are all conspiring to make sure kids can’t play football.

Some say “they” are politicizing it and yes no doubt some are but what does that have to do with what YOU as a Coach and what you are doing? When did my generation become so weak and pathetic? I am 55 and am embarrassed we raised such whiners or have turned into one.

As a Coach, especially High School, you know you have to deal with reality with the kids that come to your team. Some years you are flooded with great athletes and other years not as much. Some years you have a QB that can fling it and other years you have the next Barry Sanders so what do you do? You go to your very thick play-book and you pull out the pieces that fit the team you are dealt.

No you don’t completely change your offense of defense but you may focus more on passing with Pat Mahomes as your QB especially if you are blessed to have some receivers to go with that talent. You make adjustments within your system to accommodate your situation, your reality.

You are supposed to teach and coach your players how to compete, how to take on adversity, how to plan and overcome, how to come together as a team to sacrifice for each other and deal with reality. Humbleness in victory and class in defeat. These are real life lessons that should not be just words, that as parents we want our kids to be taught. Yes, it is also the job of the parents to teach these values but we all know how much a respected coach or teacher or others in education can impact lives. Everyone I know had a favorite teacher and connected with them for different reasons that are personal to them.

Let me ask those Coaches demanding that government officials or the media for some reason, come and tell your team the truth if that is how you run your team? So when Johnny has turned out for 4 years and never started but is a hard worker and a great team mate but simply not good enough to start or play much do you owe it to the parent and Johnny to sit down and explain your decision? After all it’s your decision. When you don’t go for it on 4th down thinking you are going to get the ball back and you don’t and lose the game do you “owe” an explanation to the booster club or parents as to why you didn’t put your team in a better position to win?

How about playing time, after all aren’t all kids D-1 recruits and you are ruining their chance for a full ride scholarship and his chance to make millions in the NFL. Do you owe that kid and parents an explanation on why he is only playing 10-15 plays a game? As stupid and ridiculous as that claim is there are parents and kids that believe it and you, as a coach, know exactly how unreasonable parents and kids can be, but in a situation that this country hasn’t faced since 1918 you have the arrogance to demand an explanation to an answer of a question you don’t like?

This is not even a question that needs to be answered, kids want to play, yes we know it. And I am especially sorry for the 93% of the kids who play High School sports and never play organized sports again. This does not include bowling or recreational sports which are all great but for the most part your serious athletic career ends when you graduate High School.

I am not worried one bit about kids that are truly D-1 athletes, there is a limited number every single year and college’s are not going to simply pass on them or skip them because they had their Fall sports season cancelled due to a virus. If they do there will be 10 other colleges waiting for those kids. Those kids are elite for a reason and other than not being able to play a traditional season they are still coveted and will be fine. It is the 93%, the kid who will strap on a football helmet one last time. It could be for the State Championship or it could be a battle of 0-9 teams, either way that is THEIR Super Bowl.

So as a coach what are you doing to try and make sure at least a Spring schedule can be played if it is cancelled in the Fall? What plans are you making? Is there any activity being allowed? If so are you encouraging your kids to turn out for Cross Country because they can run a staggered start and compete while staying distanced if allowed. Can you create some intramural activities to compete against each other or maybe in some cases you can partner with one other school and compete in events while following all the protocols while we tamp the virus down and hopefully by the end of the year have a vaccine or suitable treatment.

Are you doing everything in your power to create competition within the rules or are you just a whiner? Times like these are the exact reason and exact argument we as sports believers need to make our point about the importance of sports, clubs and other organized extra curricular activities. Instead of looking like a petulant child throwing themselves on the ground kicking and screaming “I wanna play football!” This is the exact time you need to lean on those lessons you taught and already discussed.

Can you organize to help the community with a food drive? Can you work with the school districts and see if there can be an on-line tutor program. Many teams have relationships between the high school kids and youth football kids. Can you match up Seniors with a 4th, 5th or 6th grader and they can zoom together, the varsity kid could help with homework in this strange time. Does a team mate or kid need a computer or something else to do school at home if that is what happens and if so how can you help? Is there anyway high school kids can help with childcare so parents if able can go to work? As a Coach can you help try to solve these problems instead of being mad and complain?

Coaches you need to coach your ass off right now. You need to not only think outside the box, you need to throw the box away and bring all your assistants together and come up with every single idea you can to figure this out.

Coaching and teaching I am a huge supporter and don’t believe for a second you are paid enough but I also know most of you do this because it is in your blood and your soul. So now it is more important than ever, regardless of the reasons, it is time to deal in reality. The situation you are in now is what it is, so deal with it. Attack it and figure out how to be the best. This Fall of no games will be your most significant coaching challenge in your life. Be the coach you envisioned a leader, respected and admired not the snively, whiner and one that other coaches would rather avoid.

The 93% are the ones that deserve their coach and leader to set the tone, to do everything you can to create an experience they will always remember and treasure because they know the coach was there, they did everything in their power to make something happen and in fact did. Maybe it wasn’t the traditional season but you still have the power to make this season exceptionally impactful and memorable. That is what is “owed” to these kids.

 

www.elisportsnetwork.com

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