I recently read an article about a High School Football Coach from Fennville, Michigan that got suspended for two games because of how he interacted with his player. Apparently the coach was trying to get this player’s attention and when he couldn’t he grabbed him by the shoulder pads and directed him towards the bench. The coach later issued an apology to the player but that wasn’t enough. Someone which I am assuming might be the parents or kid himself wasn’t satisfied and took it to the Superintendent. They later concluded that coach acted inappropriately and now the Assistant Coaches have to take over the team. As I was reading this article I became more and more frustrated with how today’s kids and their parents act over sports. I believe this coach did not wrong and had to get his players attention. I hear so many stories of kids not listening, undermining a coach’s authority and crying when they don’t get their way. I feel like this happens in smaller towns where everyone knows everyone and some people think they have all this power.
My advice to parents is if your kid cannot handle being coached by someone who is intense, passionate, drive and sometimes aggressive I suggest you not let them play and find a scholastic group for them to participate in. It is a coach’s job to bring out the best in their players whether it be in the sport they are playing or in life in general. Sometimes a coach can do more to challenge a kid more then a teacher can and that power shouldn’t be taken lightly. I believe there is a huge difference between being intense and abusing a student athlete. If you’re not challenging your athletes on a daily basis then you don’t need to be coaching. If you don’t want to be challenged on a daily basis then you shouldn’t be playing. When I was in high school I would see coaches grab players by the face mask to get their attention. I also heard some profanity ever now and then but there was nothing wrong with that. Sometimes you have to use certain words in certain situations. I firmly believe that the Fennville Coach shouldn’t have been disciplined. When you’re in high school athletes pride themselves on winning. They don’t like to be apart of a losing team but you can’t have it both ways. Some of the most winningest high school programs have had the most intense and driven coaches. You can’t be a coach and be a nice person all of the time. There is time and a place to turn off the intensity but practices and games aren’t one of them.
I’ve seen and heard more stories about small towns having these problems. I’ve heard of parents being nasty towards a coach if their kid isn’t starting. If your kid isn’t starting then encourage them to work hard. You can work with them at home and be supportive but a parent should never call out a coach in public or the media. The coach has a job to do and if parents are constantly undermining them how are they suppose to do it? When you undermine a coach you’re not just hurting the coach you’re hurting the entire team. It is very unfair that the rest of the kids to deal with drama and small- town politics just because one or two people aren’t getting their way. I’ve heard stories of parents taking it too far like attacking a coach on a personal level or driving a coach out of a school district only a couple years in. When a school sees coaches coming and going every two to three years then the administration should recognize that their is a problem. The problem is not the coaching but the parents who have kids not getting their way. It has become a very sad society that we live in because everyone feels entitled and don’t want to earn anything. I also feel that these situations happen in smaller towns like Fennville because smaller communities have a bigger voice to get what they want done. I rarely hear of these issues happening in a bigger city because they bigger city schools shut down the drama before it has a chance to get started. Maybe smaller city schools should take notes and quit being crybabies over being yelled at and challenged to do great on and off the field.
My advice to parents is let your kids coach do their job. Your child is going to face many challenges in the real world and if they can’t handle the challenges and intensity from a high school coach then they are in for a rude awakening. I believe as a parent you can support your kid and work with them to get better, but once they sign up to play sports the coach is the leader and authority figure. If they are not listening to the coach then they should be benched and not playing. My advice to the school districts who face these issues is if there is proof that a coach did not physically or mentally abuse a student athlete then they need to stand by the coaches and shut down parents who try to run the show. If small town school districts continue to allow this type of behavior from kids and their parents then athletic programs will continue to suffer and the kids won’t learn a thing. They will not be challenged and they will think it’s okay to disrespect leadership and authority figures. My advice to the Fennville Coach and his Assistants is to not coach until you know your authority won’t be undermined and disrespected. The only way things will ever change is if the coach stands their ground and the administration has their back.