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

It’s that magic time of year again. College and professional football is winding down to post season play. There’s the college bowl games and the National Championship, the NFC & AFC playoffs and then the Superbowl. It’s so exciting, because already the coaches’ heads have started to roll. After all, who better to blame for a losing or a not-winning-enough season than the coach? It kind of gives the illusion that how you measure a team and coach’s success is simply by his won-loss record.

It’s like that in almost every Division I College and professional sport. If the team fails to reach the playoffs or gets there but then loses, then those in power scream, “OFF WITH THE COACH’S HEAD!” This near-sighted way to measure true success has been taken to an art form by the New York Yankees’ famed ownership team of ‘Seinbrenner and sons.’ They fired long-term, class act and 4-time World Series Champion manager Joe Torre because he hadn’t been winning enough lately. The Yankees then failed to even make the playoffs this year but Torre did so with his new team in Los Angeles!

Why is it that management/ownership seems to think that the only way to measure success is by being numero uno? Finishing first is what only one team can do and your place doesn’t necessarily reflect the skills and quality of the head coach. Miserable human beings, i.e. abusive, heartless coaches can field a championship squad. Does that make them good coaches? I think not.

Then there’s the issue of coaching professional versus collegiate athletes. Some may think that professional sports is all about entertainment and therefore the management is justified in firing coaches who don’t “produce” winners. The issue should be a little different in college sports where the coaches’ jobs should also include developing and shaping good human beings as well as making sure these good humans get their degrees.

The problem as I see it is in most high visibility sports, coaching is a thankless profession. You are only as good as your last championship and what-have-you-done-for-me-today? is always lurking around the next corner. In our obsessive quest to be the best, we’ve lost sight of what’s really important in sports. We mistakenly believe that the outcome of winning is ultimately what makes you a champion and/or a good coach. This is way off the mark.

A championship coach is one who understands that what he is doing with the athletes is much bigger and more important than just winning a sports contest. He understands that the growth, development, happiness and mental health of his players is how you get to winning and therefore, this is where he focuses his efforts. A championship coach genuinely cares about his players and his caring goes far beyond their ability on the playing fields. So how about we give a Coach Of The Year award to the individual who makes his players better people, teaches them valuable life lessons, makes them feel good about themselves, inspires them to be better in their life and community, helps them make the right choices in their lives, etc.

I know, I know….I’m being painfully naive here. Coaches like that, who only finish with a 50 – 70 winning percentage should be fired. OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!


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