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“Bad” Coaches

The spring sports season is just underway which means over the next few weeks I will hear numerous complaints from parents about the coach their son or daughter plays for. 

Walter Matthau as coach Butterworth in The Bad News Bears
Walter Matthau as coach Buttermaker in The Bad News Bears (YouTube)

Doesn’t matter what sport I am sure to be trapped in a corner at some point while a Dad or Mom tells me about how their child is getting shortchanged from a coach.  It will reinforce my opinion that one of the biggest changes in youth athletics today from say my generation is the relationship between player, coach and now parent.

When I think back to the coaches I had at Central Regional in the 70’s the word that comes to mind is “respect.”   Al Kunzman, Joe Boyd, John MacIntosh, Bob Reutter and Bob Omert were men who demanded respect and received it.  They were figures of authority and their word was the final word and I don’t recall too many instances in which they were challenged.

What I also don’t remember was parental or outside interference with the way they ran their programs.   It was more likely that if you went home complaining about something your father or mother would likely respond with “if you don’t like it quit.”  Of course you didn’t.

Emilio Estevez as Coach Gordon Bombay in The Mighty Ducks
Emilio Estevez as Coach Gordon Bombay in The Mighty Ducks (YouTube)

In looking back I have to admit that might have allowed coaches to step over the line at times because they knew there would not be any repercussions. However as I flash forward to today I have to agree that at times the inmates are running the asylum.

As athletic programs have grown to include many more choices, programs at some schools struggle to field complete teams.  Coaches often have to almost beg students to come out for their sport and at times sacrifice their principles just to field a team.  Clearly we’re in a period in which the athlete often has the upper hand and the parents know it as well.

They don’t hesitate to complain and if the coach doesn’t listen they will all too often find a school administrator who will.  In the “old days” that Principal or assistant wouldn’t give a parent the time of day to discuss such matters like playing time but now they hardly have any choice as they listen to Moms and Dads talk about how the coach is going to hurt their kids chance of getting a college scholarship.

Of course parents are the worst judges of talent when it comes to their own children but rarely does anyone tell them that so I am.  Your kid is not getting a scholarship, not because of the coach but because they are simply not that good.

Get over it!


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