Posted tagged ‘youth coaches’

The Sinful Nature of Tee Ball Parents

July 12, 2017

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                           July 12, 2017

                          

I was at my granddaughter’s t-ball game last night. It was a calm event, appropriately applauded by parents and grandparents alike. The game’s highlight was when the first baseman actually caught the ball that was thrown to him. Other than that it was a time of watching six year olds more interested in the plane flying overhead than the baseball that just rolled by them on the ground, baseball caps turned backwards, and kids carrying mitts about half their height. Six year old t-ball is meant to be about learning, having fun, and getting the post-game snack. A kid can belt four home runs in the game, but if he misses the post-game snack he will go home totally devastated.

Then there are the other games! In Cortez, Colorado several parents got into a fight at a t-ball game. Video circulated from the event showing women going after one another, profanity thrown around like candy, and, ultimately, the police called with one parent cited! If this was an isolated situation we could just assign it to “Ripley’s Believe It or Not”, but unfortunately it isn’t just a blip on the screen. It happens quite often.

One team in my granddaughter’s age group has parents who follow the attitude of their children’s coach…a bit arrogant and cheering that is a bit over the top. One player who fell and went to the bench crying…as any six year old well-adjusted child would…was reprimanded by the coach who yelled at him that he had two minutes to get his act together.

Being a basketball official for sixteen years I remember having a mom removed from a sixth grade boy’s club game. She had been sitting along the baseline yelling to her son, “Kill him! Kill him!” When I had her removed she protested that she had paid to get in.

What is it about their son and daughter’s athletic contests that make parents become prime examples of human depravity? It seems to be the fertile ground from which their sinful nature grows like a weed. The Apostle Paul had it right when he wrote to the people of Galatia that “…the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.” (Galatians 5:17)

     He goes on to clarify what the acts of the sinful nature are, and while not specifically naming “being a parent at a youth sporting event” he does list associated acts like “hatred, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, and dissensions.” Ahhh…yes, sounds like some of the ingredients of some sideline parents I’ve seen.

Last summer twenty adults got into a fight during a four and five year old tee ball game in Florida over a disputed call of the umpire’s. National youth sports organizations get calls weekly about parents or coaches…or both…who have gotten into fights at games.

Years ago we had a men’s team play in a church basketball league. I used to say that the teams would pray together before the game and pray together after the game…and play like we were demon-possessed during the game!

Let’s face it! Sports bring out the best in us…and the worst in us! Parents have a hard time keeping things in perspective. Winning is worshiped. Having character is devalued. It is no longer about enjoying the sport, it’s about annihilating the competition. Common sense has exited the ball park!

Some leagues have toyed with not allowing parents to attend. Others have gone to the extreme of not allowing parents to say anything, even cheering. Associations of sports officials are seeing decreasing numbers of referees. One of the main reasons given is the behavior of parents!

Going back to Paul and his instruction to the Galatians he contrasts what the “fruit of the Spirit” are with the previously mentioned acts of the sinful nature. That is, what are the evidences of someone being directed by the Spirit of God, as opposed to “that other me” that seems to emerge form time to time. In his list he mentions things like “joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control.”

Just an idea! They may not get it, but it’s an idea! What if parents start receiving a list of positive elements, like those just mentioned; and another list of unacceptable behaviors and attitudes. Perhaps some of them would recognize the spiritual connection…and file a law suit, citing religious discrimination! But maybe, just maybe, some of them would have their dusty light bulbs click on that would tell them how things should be, and one playing field intended to be a place of play would regain some of its purpose.

 

Memo to Coaches…Especially Coaches of Young People

November 6, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                             November 6, 2016

               

Dear Coaches,

Thank you for giving of your time, energies, and experience in the coaching of young athletes. I appreciate that! You are an invaluable resource for the teaching of the skills of each sport, the fundamentals, and the understanding of how a team functions.

Now I’ve got to say something on the other side of matters.

Quit it! Stop being jerks on the sidelines! Stop blaming the officials for the fact that some of your players can’t properly execute a pivot yet! Quit it! Knock it off!

As a basketball official for fifteen years now, blowing the whistle for everything from clueless kindergarteners all the way up to college basketball, I’ve seen my share of great coaches and coaches that take on other personalities when the game starts. It’s taught me a few things that I’d like to pass on to you.

Players follow the lead of their coach! If the coach questions every referee decision that goes against him his players follow suit. I recently had a middle school game where one coach was calm and controlled. His players, although not very skilled, were just as controlled as their coach. On the other bench was a man who was combative, yelled constantly, and demeaning. Some of his players followed the lead of their coach. They were out of control, overly aggressive, debated each call against them, and even less skilled than their opponents. The example of the coach got channeled through his players and through some of his parents. Two of his players fouled out, and I think a third player had four fouls. Meanwhile, the calmness of the first coach got transmitted through everyone connected to his team. The first coach questioned one of my whistles late in the game. He was calm and I walked over to him. “I thought he traveled before he got fouled.” I responded with a smile on my face. “Coach, you’re probably right.” He smiled at me. Meanwhile the other coach…”the boy who cried “Wolf!”…used up all of our hearing and we became deaf to his constant complaints.

Coaches, think about how you are acting!

Coaches, who have the opportunity to teach your players about more than a game. You have the incredible privilege of being able to teach them about life! If your view of life gets communicated through a sour disposition, your players, who look up to you, will begin to look at life through that kind of lens. Some of the best coaches are tough on players in preparing them for games, and also educators of the important lessons of life. The greatest coaches understand that the game revolves around life, not life around the game. Some of the worst coaches- that is, coaches who have screwed up priorities- think the game is everything!

As an official, who has also coached basketball for over twenty years, I see this “win at all costs mindset” being displayed in players to the point that they are not above injuring a player on the other team if it improves their chances of winning. The question is where did they learn that from? Who has the responsibility, and opportunity, to teach them sportsmanship and fair play? Who has the privilege of shaping their understanding of how the game is played?

The coach!

So, coaches, ask yourself a few questions. What are you going to teach your players about the game? What fundamental skills are you going to emphasize to them over and over again through different drills? What are you going to teach them about teamwork and team roles? What are you going to teach them about sportsmanship and having a good attitude? And, most importantly, what are you going to teach them about life?