Wednesday, April 7, 2010

If you can't play, Coach

This evening was the I9 Flag Football coach's meeting. I9 is a organization catering to teaching young kids how to participate in sports. It not only teaches the fundamentals, but more importantly, sportsmanship. This year is my son's third year with I9, and for me, my third year coaching. Tonight we gather together, pick up our nice red "I9" t-shirts and rule book. We sit in a very hot conference room and go over the rules, line by line. Page after page of the on-field instructions are read aloud by the head of the league. The regard for the kid's safety is quickly realized to be the most important aspect of these regulations. There will be no blocking, tripping, elbowing, tackling. There is also no taunting, arguing, or extreme celebrating.

These policies are not foreign to any kid between the ages of five and twelve who has played sports. The personality of all these leagues are, respect the game, respect the coaches and officials, respect the players, and respect yourself.

But what about the parents? My son has been playing organized sports for six years, and in that time I have seen parents do some very disrespectful things. I have seen parents berate their kids from the sidelines, I have seen parents go on the field and breakout into a tongue-lashing on an official. Boos and heckling echo across the field. I overheard parents telling their kids to "Go for the knees!" and "Hit high." Support for your kids and your team are very much welcomed, kids feast on parent's praise. The intimidating taunting and offensive behavior taking place in the stands, just leaves a vile taste in everyone's mouth.

Saturday morning is evaluation day. We break up the kids into four groups, we run through some drills and gauge their skill level. The coaches run each group and get familiar with kids. One of the groups cover the rules and regulations. We go through the obligations and responsibilities of playing team sports. We stress fair play and respect.

Where will the parents be during this evaluation and learning period? Sitting it out on the sidelines.


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