Dear Coach, Thank you for all the wins that were wrapped up in the loss last night. Forgive us parents for celebrating after the game last night and possibly appearing to not take the loss in as serious of a fashion as you might have expected. We waited excitedly for your post-game speech to end …
You see I never thought the small town we landed in would end up being a place where we had to worry about the politics of coaching. We were wrong.
So parents, I write this to implore you: we're losing good ones. Good coaches and good teachers are leaving the profession because it's so hard to do it with integrity.
Most of us know what we want to do: use that big love to defend and protect our coach!
But what does that look like? Should we call out those who are actually at fault? Tell the bleacher coaches they have no idea what they are talking about and to zip it? Highlight the inequalities? Underscore the unfairness?
Most of the time we are silent partners in this deal, but we have to ask ourselves: are there times when enough is enough?
He doesn’t have favorites. He’s not purposely or viciously not playing your kid. There’s more than just pure talent that goes into making that decision. Attitude and effort go a lot further than you think. He doesn’t have it out for your kid. He is simply trying to teach them there are consequences for actions and teamwork will always take them further in life than selfish ambition.
It’s a story we hear multiple times a year. Athlete is disciplined. Athlete goes home to tell parent a version of a story. Then, before going to the source, before verifying the story, before taking a deep breath, parent goes to social media, riles up a mob of followers (most of whom have no dog …
We’ve got to stop blaming the parents for the epidemic. Parents are always going to be passionate when advocating for their kids. Rightfully so, to some extent. We would love for all of us to lose our bias towards our children, but that probably won’t ever happen.
Next, there is a time and a place for this conversation. It is not now, not after a game, no matter the outcome. It is not while his family, friends, colleagues, and community are watching. Not in the middle of the field or outside the locker room. Certainly not at the volume you are speaking; the time and the place is not now.
If I was you, I would try supporting these men that give their energy, time, passion and love to your children ... using football as a tool to prepare them for life. Especially when your son is with the coach more than you. Get to know them, how you can help, get to know their families sitting next to you in the stands. I’m sorry if they made a play call you disagree with; they have quite a bit on their plate.
They will grow up on the field, awaiting the end of the 4th so they can run into their daddy’s arms and the hugs and kisses will be just as sweet regardless of what the scoreboard says.
Remember that we coach in their sacred spaces. We are coaching the people they have loved, raised, cried, and prayed over long before we got them. For some, we are coaching their validation of self. I’m not making excuses for poor behavior, I’m offering a space for us to gather some empathy for the seemingly extreme reactions.
You know what IS the best for them?
Working harder than everyone else.
Getting better just for the sake of being better than they were yesterday.
Learning to have hard conversations.
Staying late at practice.
Taking extra shots.
Running extra sprints.
Busting their tail in offseason.
Thank you to the dad who poured his entire can of Pepsi on my son’s leg because he got into some poison ivy in hopes the acid would maybe stop a reaction.
Thank you to the parents who see me struggling to carry two children and half my house to my seat and offer to help.
The ones who scoop my three-year-old up and says, "I have him, he can sit with us tonight”.