SPORTS – THE GOOD THE BAD THE UGLY
My blogs normally follow along the lines of social, political, or religious issues, but with this blog I’m deviating slightly from those topics.
Sports, at all levels, need intense scrutiny, from the youngest little leaguers to the entertainers, or more commonly called professionals.
Let’s start with the young kids, say 8 years old and up through high school. Let’s include all sports, the entire spectrum of athletic competitions. Everything we can throw at those little nippers.
What possibly could be bad about playing sports at a young age? How about adults. Agreed that most parents are good people, supportive, and confirmative. Agreed that a good many coaches are valid, and knowledgeable. However the very first rule of youth sports should be – “Under no circumstances should a parent be allowed to coach his/her own child – NEVER EVER.”
It is impossible, despite claims otherwise, for a parent to be fair and impartial with his/her own child. No, it is not possible. It can however be extremely unfair to the other members of the team. Parent coaches are either too hard, or too soft on their child.
Second rule of youth sports – “Just because someone played a sport doesn’t mean they will be a good coach.”
Coaching young kids is the hardest job you can imagine. Not only is the coach required to know the sport and how to teach it, but they also must be arbitrators, psychologists, and referees.
Third rule of youth sports – “No adult from one team should ever demean anyone from the opposite team, or the officials.”
Why are adults bent on ruining everything? Why are some parents so belligerent? It’s a game folks. It’s not a life or death activity.
Those are my three rules for youth sports. Each one of the rules could be discussed at length over, and over. This grump’s view of sports is that it is supposed to be fun, first and foremost, and it should be a learning experience. For example – with team sports one should learn about team work. Every situation a child will face as an adult requires teamwork. Being a citizen, having a job, being in a family, being a member of a group – all require team work.
Let me dwell a moment on the idea that winning is everything. The image and example taken from the entertainment industry (professional sports) is damaging to kids. It is not a war, it is not a battle, it is not life-and-death. It’s a game! You win some and you lose some. Great lessons can be learned from losing, if the adults make it so. The wrong emphasis can be damaging to a young athlete. Winning is not everything, learning is.
Let’s look at professional football for a moment. At that level it is no longer just a game. The NFL is in the entertainment business. I don’t find it so entertaining any more. Those college graduates with huge salaries are too ignorant to know the rules, or they are arrogant enough to just disregard them. Wouldn’t you think that a “professional” would know to not block another player if they can’t see their face? Wouldn’t you think that a “professional” would know better than to lead with the crown of his helmet? Wouldn’t you think a “professional” would know what the snap count is? These “professionals” don’t know the rules. Oh, and how about the celebrations? The posing, and dancing, and pumping of fists for just doing the job they are getting paid for. Yes, I know it’s supposed to be fun, but at that level it’s a high paying job. Do any of you reading this physically celebrate when you complete a task at the job you are being paid to do?
Professional sports are in the entertaining business, so I suppose they can be allowed all the entertaining shenanigans they exhibit. The bad element is that kids copy.
I don’t believe that professional games played today are the best product. In football the quarterbacks are passing for hundreds of yards in each game – pass, pass, pass. Many skills that are necessary for a good team to succeed are lost. Most professional teams cannot run the ball. Lineman can’t run block. The game is far too one dimensional.
In professional basketball the 3-pointer has hurt the game. All youngsters want to do is shoot 3-pointers because they’ll get a higher salary. It hasn’t improved the game itself. Oh sure, it’s exciting for fans, but it’s not a better game. In baseball hit it over the fence, forget choking up on the bat and punching the ball to right field to score a run. Forget developing batting skills, just swing for the fences.
Okay since that tirade is over for the moment, let’s go back to youth sports and coaching. The coach should be the boss, the dictator, the one in charge. It is the coach’s responsibility to handle the parents. He/she should sit down with the parents before the season starts and describe what he/she expects. What are his techniques, his/her methods, his/her goals for the year and lay down the law on adult behavior at games and practice. He/she should emphasize respect for the other team’s players, parents, and especially the game officials. He should invite the opposing coaches to meet his parents and have them talk about their team and his approach and philosophy.
Before each game starts the coach should meet with the parents and explain what he/she knows abut the other team and what to expect to see during the game. He/she should then meet with them after the game to discuss what happened good, or bad. He/she should encourage the parents to go over and mingle with the parents of the opposing team. The other team is not an enemy. They could well have been neighbors.
I’m not going to get into coaching techniques with this blog because that would take volumes, except for two thoughts, one baseball, and one football.
Baseball – with the youngest players and in the beginning stages it is common to play catch. Pair up with someone and throw the ball back and forth. At this very critical beginning phase a coach should not allow random throwing. Start the kids thinking about throwing to a target. Try to throw the ball at the other player’s chest. Aim the ball and begin to develop accuracy. As they get older make the target smaller.
Football – emphasize from the very beginning that it’s a team. If they run laps they run together. No one runs out faster than everyone else. The slower runners are absorbed into the group, so they run together as a team even if some need to slow down. Teamwork, always.
Coaches should teach the game to the parents as well. Yes, have practices for the parents. Not every parent played sports. A very wise approach is to practice separately – fathers separate from the mothers.
Parents should learn the rules of the sport their child is playing. There are books that are written just for parents explaining the sport, and the rules. Some new sports are being introduced to the kids these days that are not well known, like lacrosse and hockey.
You can find my books for football, hockey, and soccer on Amazon – search for them under R. Benjamin Jordan.
You can find my other blogs under www.aviewoflifebyagrump.com.