Sports, coaching, and life.

“Uncoachable kids become unemployable adults. Let your kids get used to someone being tough on them.  It’s life, get over it.” -Some coach.

“In theory I agree. But the coaches must not only be tough, they must be FAIR. And they must not be CRUEL. And they must not have a Jehovah complex; coaches are not God. Truthfully I think sports organized by adults are not very good for kids under about 14. I wish kids could just go out and play. Dealing with other kids and making decisions without adults hanging over them is very healthy.” – Facebook comment about this post.

I was going to comment on this post, but I found I had a lot to say so I thought I would blog about it instead.  I have problems with both statements (the quote and the reply).  I both are oversimplifications.  So I’m going to address my thought in order, first the quote then the comment.

Uncoachable:  this is a nebulous term that can mean anything from a rebellious kid to a kid who doesn’t get the concept that is being taught to a kid who just doesn’t have the athletic skill to achieve what the coach demands.  Being uncoachable doesn’t doom you for life.  If we were all held account for the things we thought and did when we were 5 or 10 or 15 or 20 the world would be a shitty and sad place.

Get used to someone being tough on them… This I kind of agree with, but not in the extreme.  If Katie is 6 and playing t-ball I don’t want some screaming at her to throw the ball harder or more accurately.  In the converse, if she a high schooler with enough talent to make the softball team I want a coach who is going to push her to work hard and use her abilities.

It’s life, get over it.  Life is not easy but sports shouldn’t make it worse.  There is a difference between abusive behavior and pushing someone to achieve.  This is a fine line walked by many (including coaches).

FAIR:  These are a matter of perspective.  Fairness is not an inherent quality in life. But more than that, it is a matter of perspective.  In school kids are generally placed in track so that they can learn at a pace and level commensurate with their abilities.  In sports it is up to the coaches to decide.  This may seem, and indeed is unfair, but it is the nature of sports that those who are better at it will be the ones who succeed.  This is a hard lesson.  Sometimes no matter how much you love something and how hard you try, it may not work out.  Thus the unfair nature of the world.  Now there are certainly other factors that contribute to both success and failure in sports and life but “fairness” isn’t going to change that either.

Not be CRUEL: Cruelty, like fairness can be a matter of perspective.  If you get cut from the team, if you ride the pine, if you only get to play right field that may seem cruel, but it is likely just the reality of the situation that you are not as good as other people.  Rather than dwell on the “cruel coach” it may be time to seek other pursuits and find those life talents.  That is easy to say but hard to see in action.  But it is a life lesson that must be learned.  We have to learn our strengths and weaknesses.

Coaches with God complexes.  Coaches, especially those at the higher ranks (high school, college, pros) can have outsized personalities.  Couple this with a desire (need – or you get fired) to win and you have a recipe for some interpersonal conflict.  Yes, I agree if you are coaching soccer for six year olds, maybe tone it down.

Coaches are teachers for sports.  They are also human beings.  Sometimes they are good, sometimes great, sometimes they try hard, sometimes they are assholes.  Not everybody wants to or needs to participate in sports, but I’m pretty certain nobody is worse off for having participated in organized sports.

Maybe it would have been a better quote (if not as easy to make a Facebook meme) if it had been presented in the affirmative rather than the negative.

“Coachable kids become employable adults. Let your kids get used to someone pushing them to succeed.” -Some coach.

These are just some thoughts.

 

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