You don't have to look very far in the news to read about coaches in youth sports. Sure, 99 percent of the stories are about "bad" coaches and never seem to focus on good coaches. I get that part, but trust me, there are too many "bad" people out there ruling the roost.
As an example, one would have had to be in southwest Africa for the past couple of weeks to have missed the incident in San Antonio, Texas of two high school football players who blindsided a referee, almost breaking him in two. It was easy to see why they were caught. In Texas, football is so popular that seemingly every TV station televises Friday night games. ESPN's Outside the Lines reports that the players' secondary coach told them, "That guy needs to pay for cheating us."
But I'm not talking about high school football. I'm talking about youth league football, where the coaches for the most part are volunteers who are out there reliving their past glories on the gridiron. I've witnessed some of these "would be" coaches act in such a terrifying manner that no sane person would ever let their child be a mile from them.
The book Touchdowns, Tackles, and Torture: Life of a Youth Football Mom, written by Stacey Vidal and Julie Hernandez, chronicles the hellish first season of tackle football their nine-year-old sons endured. They had five-day-a-week practice schedules for six months; were verbally and physically abused by an out-of-control coach; and then rarely saw the field on Saturday game days.
But these moms were too scared to speak up. "It's kind of intimidating. You have four or five coaches out there, and they're all men, and you have a whole group of dads standing, watching and also yelling. As mothers we just sat there and it was very difficult to hear. I didn't know what to say," Hernandez told the National Alliance for Youth Sports. "The coaches wanted to win so they did whatever it took to win is what I think basically happened that season. When they should have been coaching and building morale and uplifting the kids it was the opposite."
Trust me; this story only scratches the surface. Similar incidents take place in youth sports programs across the country. Parents feel if they complain when they see something they don't like about a coach, fearing their child will be ostracized and the coaches will either cut their kid or make them ride the bench throughout the season. The league and coaches make it miserable for the poor kids simply because someone questioned their tactics or ethics.
In my next blog, I'll give parents a strategy to use to solve their problem.