The need for adult education in sport.
There are too many adults who do not understand the time and effort that coaches put into a sports season. Adults, especially parents of junior and senior student-athletes at the high school level, need to understand that the coaches have families, too.
Coaches sacrifice their time with their families to help these student-athletes become better players and, hopefully, better people.
I propose that athletic departments in middle schools, high schools, or colleges/universities provide sessions for parents to get a better understanding of the effort put into a sports season. These sessions can be voluntary or mandatory.
I personally believe that athletic directors should make this a mandatory class for parents before their sons or daughters begin participating in their desired sport.
I envision these sessions to be held over a two day period for 1 1/2 hours each day. They should be held during the fall, winter, and spring sports seasons.
At the middle and high school levels, especially, having these classes or sessions could avert potential problems that arise during the course of a season. Such potential problems include: Parents complaining about their son or daughter's playing time; student-athletes coming to practice late or leaving early for various reasons that can not be controlled by the coach; and complaints about the coach's team philosophy and playing style.
There have been many times during a game, whether it's basketball, baseball, or other sports, where I would find myself sitting next to an "armchair quarterback"--we all know the type. Usually, the "armchair quarterback" I am referring is someone who likes to relive their past playing days.
These are people who are quick to criticize some of today's coaching. They recall how things used to be done and how they used to play the game. They believe that how they played the game then, gives them the knowledge of how the game should be played today.
However, the student-athletes of today are different. We as coaches are dealing with a new generation of student-athletes whose experiences are different from generations before. Policies, peer pressure, competitiveness, and pressure to win have multiplied over the years.
Technology has provided coaches and players with more enhanced knowledge and tools which contribute to their abilities and physicality. These classes give adults an opportunity to be enlightened about such changes.
Who should teach these classes? What should these classes encompass in two 1 1 /2-hour evenings? I believe that adults in the community, "armchair quarterbacks," and parents of these student-athletes, should be taught by veterans or successful coaches from either the high school or college levels.
The coaches need to be individuals who are credible and up-to-date with their craft. Schools should bring in accomplished coaches to teach and share their experiences with adults. These coaches should share the difference of the yester-years of sports to today's world of sports.
The head coaches of the teams in the upcoming season should be in attendance and offer their thoughts and philosophies of how they plan on approaching this season. I believe that the coaches of the school team will also benefit from listening to accomplished coaches who know and understand the rigors of a sports season.
Whomever the athletic director or administration decides to teach these sessions should have had the experience of coaching at that particular level as well.
There are many concepts and subject matters that should be taught and discussed, probably too many to cover in two nights. In today's society it is difficult for adults and parents in the community to make room in their schedules for two evenings. This is an adult sport education class.
Adults and parents in the community should take this opportunity to better understand the game that their sons or daughters are participating in--it's worth the time commitment. They may be giving up two evenings, however, most coaches have day jobs as well and spend three to four months devoting their evenings to the team. Yes, coaches would not do this if they did not love coaching. But by getting on the same page early in the season, coaches can avoid having to put up with the common grievances from parents and the community members.
One of the things that should be discussed is the procedure of how coaches decide on who makes the team and how they delegate positions and roles of team members.
Coaches should give specific examples or explain in detail the process of how they go about performing these tasks. Coaches should also provide their philosophy or thoughts on the sensitive issue of playing time. Again, the coaches teaching these classes should cite specific examples or situations of how they make decisions on playing time.
Another thing that should be discussed is the different playing styles coaches may use with regards to the personnel of the team. Coaches should explain in detail why they are using this playing style and provide specific situations for why this style of play works.
The practice schedule is the third thing that should be discussed during these classes. Once in a while coaches should inform the community on how and what they are coaching or teaching to the players. This could also include the team's progress throughout the course of the season.
Lastly, coaches should explain the extra responsibilities they have throughout the season. Those responsibilities include: Running clinics or camps; purchasing equipment; getting uniform sizes; going to boosters meetings; preparing practices and strategies for game day; meeting with parents, assistant coaches and student-athletes before, during and after the season; going over evaluations with the athletic director; and talking with the media.
I probably have omitted quite a few things, but as you can see, coaching encompasses a tremendous amount of time, effort, and responsibility.
I am writing this piece because I have been coaching for nearly 15 years, since my junior year in college, which was in 1995. I have coached many seasons and a variety of sports and have seen things occur throughout the course of the season that could have been avoided if addressed early.
I believe that this idea should be embraced by school communities and athletic departments. I believe that parents and community members can benefit from these meetings and have a better understanding of sports, especially the sport in which their children participate.
This idea could also become a "money-maker" for someone who is interested in a business which consisted of organizing coaches going out to communities and schools and teaching and discussing sport education to the adults and parents. I would love to see someone organize a group of credible and accomplished coaches who would be interested in doing this sort of thing.
This is just an idea but an idea that I whole-heartedly believe could contribute to the well-being of sports. Promoting something like this would take some effort, especially to get those who are set in their ways and those who assume they know everything with regards to sports.
However, this is an idea that can change the way people view youth, high school, and college sports.
By Ken Brubaker, Sport Sciences, Ashland (OH) University