In Coaching: Good/Bad/Unfair, Parents' Role in Youth Sports, Problems in Youth Sports

The coach has won the last 5 District titles. He’s fielded a State championship team. His exploits are regularly chronicled and celebrated in the local newspapers. He’s clearly a “winning” coach. Only problem here is the coach also has one little, not so hidden, dirty secret: He’s consistently abusive to his players!

He’s been known to call girls out in front of their teammates and all those watching, humiliating the player in the process. He’s withheld food from his team during an entire day-long tournament as punishment for some “terrible transgression” that they supposedly committed. He’s a screamer and doesn’t seem to grasp that very difficult concept that the girls who he is working with are actually living, feeling, sensitive organisms. He won’t tolerate any feedback from his players, their parents or anyone else because his way is obviously the RIGHT AND ONLY WAY and he’s got the won-loss record to prove it! He uses hard physical conditioning as punishment for “bad attitudes,” mistakes and poor performances.

While parents may be horrified at how he’s treating their daughters, they are afraid to stand up to him and/or speak out about the injustices that he regularly commits because they fear that he will retaliate by taking his anger out on their daughters, benching them and making their lives miserable. His modus operandi is “Shut up or else!”

Apparently the school principal and athletic director know what’s going on because over the years people have complained. However, they too seem reluctant to act, most likely because this coach is so “successful!”

This shameful situation is present all over the country at every level that sports are played. It highlights how our children’s learning experiences, emotional and physical well-being and happiness take a back seat to an adult’s selfish need to win in any way he sees fit. Is winning really that important that we’d knowingly sacrifice our kids’ happiness and self-esteem?

When we sit back passively and quietly as parents when our kids are being subjected to this kind of emotional and sometimes physical abuse, we are profoundly failing our children and not doing our important job as parents: TO PROTECT OUR KIDS AND KEEP THEM SAFE!

Do not sit back quietly if you feel that your child is in an abusive situation, regardless of how “good” the coach is. A won-loss record will never tell you that your children are in the hands of a competent, caring coach! Speak up to the coach. Do not let abusive behavior pass for appropriate “education.” If the coach is unresponsive, go to the athletic director. If he/she is unresponsive, then go to the school principal. If that doesn’t work, go to the school board or state athletic association. Make a lot of waves. Cause “problems!” PROTECT YOUR KIDS! Remember, when you’re silent in the face of abuse, you’re making a terrible deal with the devil!


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