A few years back I was speaking to a group of coaches in the state of Texas. They were youth league football coaches.
Through all of my experience as a youth sports administrator and head of a national youth sports organization, I have determined that youth football coaches are the group that I would label "needs help" the most when it comes to coaching kids.
All one has to have done was to have watched a few episodes of Friday Night Tykes to understand what I mean. When I say "needs help" I'm not talking about understanding the Xs and Os of coaching football. I'm talking about keeping things in perspective and understanding that youth football isn't the pros. It's about kids! Also, that preventing and treating injuries is a big responsibility.
As I raised the issue of keeping things in perspective, I couldn't help but see the look on their faces as if to say, "Who is this goody-goody talking to us about safety? We want out of here as soon as possible."
Obviously, not all youth football coaches are frustrated, never-made-it-to-the-next-level guys. But a great number are, and they are out there on football fields across America preaching the need to win at all costs to kids as young as 5 years old.
I'm there on the stage trying to figure how I can get these guys' attention and I decided to hit them with a good story that would be sure to jolt them.
And it's a true story.
And it worked.
I told them about a discussion I had with a coach at a previous coaching clinic. A coach came up to me after the clinic and said, "If you promise not to tell anyone that I told you this story would you like to hear how I ruined some kid?"
Coaches usually felt compelled to tell me about their past coaching indiscretions after completing our coaching clinics. I was intrigued and said, "Sure, go for it."
He began by saying that when he was coaching football he had the best player on his team playing quarterback and defensive end. In an important game, the runner on the other team came around his end of the field and tackled his player. His player told him that he felt a terrible pain in his right arm.
The coach said he had heard somewhere about a shoulder coming out of the socket and figured that was what was wrong with the kid. He told me that he put his fist in the kid's armpit and like a fulcrum, pushed down as hard as he could on the forearm thinking this would put the shoulder back in place.
He said the kid passed out and fell to the ground. They called the ambulance and took him to the hospital.
The coach was curious as to why the player passed out so he called the family that night to see how he was doing. What had happened was that as he used the fulcrum to pop the player's shoulder back in place, he actually broke the kid's already broken arm into a total fracture. The coach said he was sued for a million dollars.
The football coaches sat there with their mouths open as I told the gruesome ending of that story.
I finished by saying, "Perhaps you may want to think about your liability insurance should you decide to become your own doctor when coaching kids."