Coaching Abuse

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Coaching Abuse

Coaching Abuse

Coaching Abuse

“Coaching ABUSE: The dirty, not-so-little secret in sports”

IN THIS ISSUE:

 “Coaching ABUSE: The dirty, not-so-little secret in sports”

What is wrong with a society that places so much importance on winning in sports that it blatantly neglects the needs and well being of the child-athletes that it’s charged with educating and protecting? Are we that out of touch that we’ve lost our perspective on what really matters in life? Are too many parents making a “deal with the devil” and turning their kids over to coaches with questionable methods just because these coaches supposedly produce “champions?”

As a coach, just how important is winning to you? When your team or athletes win, does that mean that you are doing your job better? Does it make you a more effective coach? Similarly, when your athletes fail, does that mean you are failing? Are your athletes’ and team’s losses concrete evidence of your incompetence?

If you were brutally honest with yourself, could you look in the mirror and answer this question? “Is winning and all that it means to me, more important than the mental health and happiness of my child/athletes?” If you’re a coach reading this, then I couldn’t blame you for responding to my question with horror and righteous indignation. Who the heck am I to even suggest that you, an adult and professional, would place your needs to be successful over the needs of your young athletes? Of course youknow that the sport is supposed to be “all about the kids.” Certainly, you’re fully aware that “it’s only a game.” You also know that coaching is all about being a good role model, enhancing self-esteem and building character. Furthermore, you know that your number one priority is the welfare and happiness of the kids you coach. A coach doesn’t have to be a rocket scientist to know all this stuff. But then again, who would ever answer “yes” to my question and admit to themselves and others that they regularly place their own needs as an adult and professional over those of the children their supposed to be guiding?

Here’s the problem the way I see it. Because winning has become so important to us as a culture, because being “numero uno” has been erroneously equated with coaching success and competence, some of our youth sport, club, high school and college coaches have forgotten what their real mission as a professional is. These coaches have come to mistakenly believe that the won-loss outcome of their season is far more important than the process of participation, character development and safety of their athletes. They believe that an athlete’s performance failure is reflective of a coaching failure. And why shouldn’t they feel this way when coaches at every level are regularly criticized and fired for not winning enough? When it comes right down to it though, isn’t the true essence of “good coaching,” winning? Isn’t that what NFL Hall of Fame coach Vince Lombardi used to say: Winning isn’t the most important thing. It’s the only thing?

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