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

Two weeks ago released a disturbing, but not unexpected report compiled from polling thousands of high school and college coaches on the topic of intentional injuries. Their findings: Over half of the respondents believed that one of their players had been intentionally injured by an opponent.

The report went on to say that 68% of the more than 5,000 coaches who responded to the survey believed that it was at least “possible” that one of their athletes was intentionally injured while 21% believed that their player was “definitely” injured.

What does this all mean? That our competitive sports system is morally bankrupt! The old fashioned values of playing fair, displaying good sportsmanship, keeping the competitive contest in perspective and respecting your opponents are all trumped by the importance of “winning.” What’s more disturbing to me than these general statistics is something that wasn’t polled and underlies this shameful athlete behavior. That is, the fact that the supposed stewards of the game, the coaches are either turning the other way when this display of malicious aggression happens or, worse, directly encouraging it!

So let me see if I can get all of this straight: Winning a sports contest is much more important than the physical safety and emotional well-being of those who are playing and competing? Check! The manner in which you participate and compete is of no significance just as long as you win? Check! The opponent is truly the enemy and he/she must be “neutralized” by any means necessary? Check! Perhaps we can get former Olympic skater and co-conspirator Tonya Harding to consult with us on better, more effective ways to deliberately hurt and injure the competition! Why not just hire a hit man?!

When this kind of outrageous and dangerous behavior is indirectly condoned or directly encouraged by the responsible adults involved in competitive sports it signals a whole new low that our sports game has “achieved.”


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