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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

How Far is Too Far?

Family –

I know we started a new series on professional athletics and finance, but I had a change of heart and decided there was no real need to beat a dead horse. Wealth mismanagement is as common as a cold and just like the cold there is no cure for it. So that series is officially scrapped.

First, let’s set the table for this new post shall we?

A friend approached me with a question about sport, coaches, athletes and parents so I thought I would take a quick minute to jot down some of my ever-present “random thoughts” to share with you.

Here goes…

There’s a local school here in Southern California who has suspended its head baseball coach for allegedly “bullying” the athletes and making them feel uncomfortable around him. This coach reportedly made fun of athletes, berated them and called them names amongst other things. Now,  I’ll be the first to say that the thought of an adult male intimidating and bullying a child makes me beyond angry… there’s no need for that type of behavior since coaches are supposed to be the life-line between athletics and education.  The idea would be to model the behavior we (coaches) expect from our players.

But wait…there’s more….

Guess what happened next? Ding! Ding! Ding! Yup… you nailed it… the parents hired an attorney and are planning to sue the school and the school district if this coach (who’s been there for several years) isn’t terminated. I had a chance to view the news broadcast (yes, the local media is now involved too) and one of the mothers along with the attorney were interviewed. They were adamant about seeking retribution against the district if this coach wasn’t immediately relieved. The assistant superintendent was also interviewed and basically said a whole bunch of nothing when asked about the district’s position given the allegations. The segment concluded with an interview with one of the current athletes on the baseball team who had nothing but great things to say about the coach and what he had done for him…

Confused? Yeah, me too.

So here’s my first question… how far is too far for a coach to go? As coaches we always push our athletes further than they think they can go… in most cases helping them achieve milestones that would have been otherwise unattainable. But what if a coach pushes too much? What happens if the coach’s motivational tactics become viewed as intimidating or bullying? Those are two very strong words in today’s sport environment. Simply put abuse is abuse no matter how you try to dress it up.

My second questions is: where do parents stand in all of this? I understand Californians would rather litigate than communicate, but where does that stop? Have coaches become so unapproachable and egocentric that parents aren’t allowed to have a conversation with them about concerns regarding their own children? Are the parents afraid to approach the coaches for fear of retaliation against the children in the form of lost playing time or physical punishment disguised as “character development?”

Hold on people we’re talking high school sports here! No negotiations for athletes, no free agency (although kids change schools like t-shirts nowadays) and no checks changing hands (unless you coach at a local private school in San Juan Capistrano, California).

What’s going on here!?!?!?!?

Let’s face it… there are very few Coach Tony Dungy clones out there. Most coaches coach to win… and most of them have respect for their athletes, the parents and the institution of sport. There are, however, those coaches out there who coach for nothing more than themselves and could care less about the young people they damage in route to their personal glory. In that same vein parents can be just as selfish. If little Billy can’t be a starter on this team there must be something wrong with the coach and the school…. so let’s sue ‘em.

Wake up people! This generation needs sport… and we are doing nothing to help them realize how magnificent the institution of sport is or how important it is for their personal growth and development. Instead we stand behind attorneys and legal mumbo-jumbo fighting our personal battles using the kids and sport as mere pawns in the game. We’re losing sport, we’re losing our children and many of us, by the way we act, we have lost our minds!

Jus sayin…

1 comment:

  1. Great, GREAT "call to action." Bad coaches + greedy parents = children who lose out. The most significant people in a student athlete's life are letting him/her down!!! Where are these kids supposed to turn when, after a coach has betrayed their trust, their parents see it as an opportunity for personal financial gain, rather than recognizing that their child needs their support and encouragement???