Thursday, October 11, 2012

Youth League Sports

As many of you know, I live on four acres south of Upper Sandusky (no not Cedar Point) in a farmhouse that was built in 1851. With the nest totally empty, I do not get involved with sports in the town. That is what I prefer, because I do not have the experience to contribute to athletics. There are far more frustrated "jocks" who know more that I. Shoot, there are more dads who never played a sport, but have watched Ohio State and the Cleveland Browns, and, now they have forgotten more about football than I will ever know.

At McD's this morning, a parent told me that a midget league team in Upper Sandusky beat another team  by the score of 66-0. Supposedly, the coach did everything he could to keep the score down. 66-0!!! I bet if for some reason, his son was on the losing team, he would not have scored 66 points. Wait, knowing that he had a highly successful athletic career at Upper Sandusky, he might have. No character assassination here, but just another high school player trying to live the dream of being a coach.

A few years ago, I was driving by a midget league practice and the coach become upset at the kids. He made them run over 300 yards, and they went right back to scrimmaging. They were 10-12 year kids. But I am sure that they were tougher and more disciplined because of that move. Many years ago, a group of parents got to together and had a midget league head coach replaced in mid-season. Now this is midget league, not the NFL. He was not replaced for his treatment of kids, but because he was not winning. Midget league, do not forget.

My suggestion this morning was every year in March the league put all of the names in a hat and redraft every player, regardless of what team that he played on. Obviously, the league has enough equipment. One of the boys on the team that was beaten 66-0, would have a chance to be on the team that scored the 66 points. Of course,  the coach might redshirt him or put him on the practice squad. Just think of the new team comraderie that would develop. Also, a boy would have a chance to learn from a new coach.

A few years ago I brought my idea up to some midget league coaches. Answers ---" But we have our systems and our depth charts set. We would have to reteach our techniques, and players would have to learn a new defense and offense." I just put my head down and walked away.

A friend of mine who is a successful lawyer once told me that he played both seventh and eighth grade football and never got into a game. I know a coach who would substitute players, until the other team started closing the gap. Then he would call a timeout and put the first group back in the game. This coach is a teacher/coach in the system and does a lot for athletics. But is he really developing character, or feeding his own ego?

What really set me off today was a news story on the noon flatscreen news. A seventh grade coach hit a player who was running along the sideline on the last play of the game. The game was in Utah. The player suffered a concussion, but should be alright. The 30-40 something  coach actually looks like he would hit his 90 year old mother for spilling some milk. He also looks like he does not know if you blow up a football or stuff it. I am guessing he never got  much playing time in high school, but he did get a senior letter given to all seniors.

They are filing child abuse charges against him. His lawyer made sure that people realize that he did not step on the field. That's huge. Not step on the field, but still gave a seventh grader a concussion. That makes sense!  I mean the guy is a coach of a school sponsored team. Schools develop young people academically and socially. Sports are a part of that. Hopefully, a school is not desperate to the point where they have to hire guys with a mentality like this seventh grade coach.

One more war story. A few years there was a local head football coach who had no communication skills when it came to coaching football. None. Absolutely none. Four letter words, the Lord's name in vain. Remembering a player's name. No communication skills, period. I asked my eight graders what would happen if I swore in class, or used the "F-bomb, or used the Lord's name in vain? They said that I would get "fired! I asked them how does a junior high or high school coach could get away with using that language. Their answer - " He is a coach, you are just a teacher."

Someone has to step up and say, "Enough." If the good people are not working with the kids, find the good people who can develop into good coaches. The league commisssioner, the schools athletic director, or a group of parents (possibly) needs to take responsibilty and get good people who can work with young people. Might be hard for the person in charge to make those decisions, but that goes with the position.

John McCallister is not going to change youth sports in Upper Sandusky. But you, as a parent, use good judgment in youth sports. If you coach, let the big time coaching to Urban Meyer or Brady Hoke. Develop young people for the next level of competition. Do not try to make the finish product, just be part of the process. By the way, my two boys played high school football, but their late mother d said,"No," to youth football.

1 comment:

Bryan M. Griffith said...


I love to hear that someone with your experience and perspective agrees that youth sports needs to be about more than just winning. As a youth soccer coach, I have met my share of coaches who just don't understand why they are the sidelines and spend the entire match screaming at their kids. Too many parent coaches want to be the next Woody Hayes or Bobby Knight.

There is a movement to improve this situation, but it has been slow to take off. You can learn more about the Positive Coaching Alliance and Responsible Sports.

I hope that some day soon our coaches will evolve to the future of youth sports and use this opportunity to help our children learn valuable life lessons.

Best regards,
Coach Griffith