In the Red Corner – Childish Adults

There are jobs that I prefer not to do.

Cleaning toilets? Been there, done that – Deleted from memory.

Working at a restaurant in any capacity? No thanks. The first patron at iHop to yell at me for overcooking his eggs is going to get syrup up his nostrils and pancake batter up the side of his face.

Farmer? Even if you give me a plant that’s already growing, I can guarantee that it will be wilted and dying within days. My thumbs are not green.

I’ve already told you that being a mom is by far the toughest job on the planet and those who disagree with me should throw on an apron, wipe up some puke, clean a kids crappy pants, cook dinner and then tell me that your job is harder. My mom was one tough cookie to put up with a house full of immature, incompetent and rowdy kids so I have never aspired to be a stay-at-home dad. And you all know by now how Super Mom’s batteries never let up.

But there is a job that I’ve taken on since my kids were big enough to talk smack, kick a ball, kick other kids and dribble something other than spit on their pillows. It is, in my estimation a close second to motherhood in terms of being overlooked. It’s a job where you are abused and berated even when you’re doing your best. A job where you can be a hero or a zero and even when you’re a hero you’re still a zero to someone because you can never satisfy everyone. You can be on top of the world one moment, and then washing up blood (sometimes your own) and dirt the next minute.

Do you know what I’m referring to? If you picked it out even before I got to the blood part, you’re a volunteer coach for a youth sport and you can relate to the pain and anguish of dealing with players, officials and unfortunately parents. Any coach will tell you, that parents are the bane of any coaches existence. If you could coach kids without ever having to deal with parents there would be a lot more people raising their hands to teach kids how to play and enjoy sports.

I’ve already written about sports parents in the past and I’ll probably write about them dozens, maybe hundreds more times. I will never tire of the subject because there is never an end to the stupidity that I encounter in the stands.

This time my tirade is about parents who think their kids are entitled to play and express there frustrations with me (or more commonly, with someone else) when their kid does not get to play. If you’re a coach, how often do you hear the question, ‘Is there a reason why Timmy didn’t play today?’

There could be a million reasons why Timmy didn’t play but the bottom line is, I made a decision as a coach to give the team the best possible opportunity to win. Timmy was okay with my decision, why can’t you be? And even if Timmy wasn’t okay with sitting on the bench, do you think Timmy is the only kid who has ever had to sit on the bench in the history of mankind?

If we were playing in a “Everybody Wins League” or “We are all Champions Tournament” I can guarantee you that Timmy will play the entire game because its not about being competitive its about making everybody feel good. And when the game is over, we can all get our plastic medals, a box of juice and some crackers, right? But will letting Timmy play the entire game make Timmy’s dad feel any better? Probably not. Because chances are, Timmy’s dad is one of those guys who lives his entire life in search of the next best complaint.

You have to have thick skin as a coach and mine gets thicker every year I’m involved in youth sports. There are always stinging remarks, but the ones that annoy me the most come from parents who criticize game time decisions EVEN WHEN WE WIN and the team did well as a unit, not as individuals!

It’s immature of me to think that all sports parents are the same. I only say these things because sometimes I find myself thinking and saying the same things that some parents day to my face or behind my back. And when I catch myself feeling that way I quickly withdraw from the situation, allow some time to breathe and tell myself that I have to respect a coaches decision no matter how much I disagree. I think there are some great parents out there who support their teams and do their best to allow the players and coaches to operate in their assigned roles. Some parents even appreciate what coaches do and all of the time they put in to help their kids.

Personally, I think there should be a rule that if your kid is participating in a sport, you have to volunteer a certain amount of time in the hot seat before you can criticize coach, and so that parents can learn to appreciate what happens in the trenches. But if you refuse to put up then you may as well shut up because ultimately your negativity affects your child and your childs entire team. Perhaps your child would be better suited to a sport like tennis, golf or cross country. Then he/she can play all she wants and you can cheer as long and as loud as you want because you both got what you want…especially you mom and dad.

When it comes to coaching, I really like how former England international footballer Kevin Keegan put it. He said, “As a manager [coach], you always have a gun to your head.  It’s a question of whether there is a bullet in the barrel.”

I’m willing to take the criticisms for my decisions as a coach. Regardless of what might be said by the so-called adults, I absolutely love the camaraderie of a team. I enjoy teaching young people the nuances of a sport, watching them learn, improve and excel. I love watching young athletes discover the parallels that exist between sports and life. The parent dilemma is not a new thing to coaching and even though I launch into tirades about it, I am okay with parents attacking me because in the end its not about them, its about giving my best effort to my team and motivating them to give their best effort to one another.

In parting there is this one thought from an anonymous source, “It may be that all games are silly.  But then, so are humans.”

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