Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Good Coach/Bad Coach

My recent article on the parent/player/coach triangle was inspired by two separate issues we have had with our son’s coaches in the last month. They were issues that my husband and I as parents felt we had to get involved in.

During a recent practice, one coach told my son he was going to “beat his ass,” It upset my son and when he told me about it, I was upset too. We don’t talk to our kids that way and I certainly don’t think it is appropriate for a coach to talk to him that way. I felt that no matter what the context of the comment, it was disrespectful and inappropriate. My son loves basketball and works hard at it, and he doesn’t deserve to be treated that way. In this case, I decided that I needed to stand up for my son and let the coach know I wasn’t happy with this behavior. I wrote an email, had my husband read it over, and then sent it to the coach.

I got an immediate response, an apology, and then my son also got an apology in person the next time the coach saw him. My husband and I also got a sincere and heartfelt apology in person with the admission that the coach made a mistake, it wouldn’t happen again, and thank you for bringing this to my attention. No excuses.

I was very satisfied with this outcome.

Then my other son came out of a recent post-game meeting with his coaches and teammates very upset. His team had just won the game. But one of the parent/coaches told my son “You almost lost the game for us.” My son was so disturbed by this malicious comment that he was in tears later in the day. He is not a sensitive kid, he is an aggressive and talented athelete. It’s very rare for him to cry. This time my husband wrote the email, asking the head coach to address this issue. The head coach said the comment was not true and he would talk to the coach who made it. I have yet to see or hear any kind of apology. I think you can guess that I'm not at all satisfied with this outcome.

A parent with a child on the team, who is over-involved in his own son’s athletic performance does not make a good coach. He is not teaching fairness, honesty and sportsmanship. He is not there to exhort others to greatness. He doesn’t seem to understand the meaning of teamwork. I guess winning is at the top of his list. But funny thing, the team hasn't won many games.

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