Coaches with Class

Coaches have a far reaching role in a young person’s developement…for the good or the bad.  Ever since my kids started playing sports I’ve been an avid fan of whatever activity they are involved in. And in all my years being involved with sports I’ve seen my fair share of coaches, good and bad.  I’ve written about many of my experiences with those coaches.  Today’s blog will tell yet another story.

Having been around sports for quite some time, I understand the whole concept of sportsmanship and good competition.  I enjoy good competition.  I love watching a game unfold with plays between both teams running smoothly.  And I thrive on good sportsmanship.  I love watching teams battle hard but treat each other with respect.  There is nothing better, to me, than watching competitors, and their coaches, treat each other respectfully.

Here is my latest story.

Recently Zach had a lacrosse game.  We knew it was going to be hard fought and contentious.  We just didn’t know how obnoxious it was going to be until the first goal was scored.  The opposing teams scored the opening goal and their sideline errupted.  It literally became a scene of pandemonium.  Their players acted like they had never scored a goal.  Fist pumping, chest bumping, hoots, hollers and body slamming came spewing forth from their players ~ and their coaches.  The same scene played out over and over again as the opposition had their way with our boys.  They did it with all seven goals they scored against the boys in the first half of the game.

I understand being excited and wanting to win.  I understand that excitement builds as the score goes up.  I get it.  I really do.  I’ve watched my kids as they’ve played games on both sides of this equation.  

But what bothers me in the above scenario is that it wasn’t just the players behaving this way.  It was the coaches leading the charge for this obnoxious, unsportsmanlike conduct.  Coaches leading by bad example.  

In all of the games I’ve watched in my many years as hockey/lacrosse/football/soccer/swim/dance mom I’ve never seen coaches like the ones I saw at the game the other night.  The coaches behaved like maladjusted teenagers.  They hooted and hollered like a bunch of howler monkeys in a mating ritual  and went on to chest bump and body slam each other.  Body slamming and chest bumping have no place, in my mind, in the behavior of a coach.  Coaches are there to coach and teach and mentor…in a good way.  As the game progressed, the coaches’ behavior escalated.  A time out was called on the field and the coach called his boys together as our coaches called in our players.  As the opposing team came together the coach screamed “I HATE THIS TEAM!!!!!!”   How can a high school coach be permitted to behave so abomidably and teach his kids to HATE another team?  Rivalry is good, hate is not.  I’ve never seen coaches behave with such little class.

The truly sad part of this whole thing is I know the coach who led that team until just a couple of weeks ago when he had to leave the bench due to work conflicts.  The coach who left is a class act.  He’s the one who got Zach involved in Lacrosse.  He knows the difference between sportsmanlike behavior and obnoxious behavior.  He knows the difference between rivalry and hate.  What a pity he had to leave the team to a bunch of coaches who behave with no class.

I left the game angry and agitated.  I get very vested in games my kids play.  I’ve been known to stand on the top step of the stands at a hockey game and will the game to move my way.  I react when the calls aren’t fair either way.  I get angry when refs fail to control the game, both ways.  I want  a good clean game between worthy opponents.  But there aren’t many times I’ve left games as angry as I was the other night.

My anger had little to do with how poorly our boys played.  My anger had everything to do with the fact that these coaches have impressionable boys in their clutches, and they are teaching them to behave with little class.  Our boys may have lost that game 7-3, but in my mind they were the winners of the night.  They behaved with dignity.  Our coaches led our boys with class.  I will take a classy coach over one who teaches kids how to look like idiots by leading them to behave in a classless manner.  If I were a parent on that team our boys played the other night I would be not only embarrassed, I’d be angry too.  

Oh, for the love of my children…

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