Parental interference can hinder coaches’ ability to teach life lessons through sports|
Until the mid 1960’s coaches never had to have a contract between parents, players and school administrators. We just gave players two copies of team rules and policies (one for them and one for their parents) and went over them and answered any questions the players had.
Today, coaches must have a contract signed by all the aforementioned parties.
Back then, a student caught drinking alcohol resulted in an immediate dismissal from the team. Today, in some schools, the same offense could lead to a two-week suspension. In some situations, it is done on a case-by-case basis.
People will say, “Wow, how times have changed.” No, times haven’t changed. People and their ideas are what have changed.
I went into coaching in the early ’60’s for one reason, to teach the life lessons that cannot be taught or learned in high school classrooms. That is why interscholastic high school athletics were put into the curriculum.
If life lessons aren’t taught in sports, all you really have are high-priced intramurals.
I never took a coaching or athletic director position unless I was guaranteed by the people hiring me that my own player-school contract would be supported.
By 1990, I had to add a section for parents. They had to follow what I called the “4 Cardinal Rules for Parents.” These rules stated that playing time, squad selection, team strategy or issues involving other players could not be discussed with the coach, AD or administrators.
I told the people interviewing me that if they hired me and did not back my contract, I would immediately step down from the coaching position and then hold a press conference to announce the reason for my resignation.
I had to do that a couple of times in my coaching career. When I did so, I was backed by the administration.
Today, the question is, are coaches hired to be fired? When athletic directors, principals and superintendents recommend that a coach be rehired, but he or she is not rehired because school boards, committees or boards of directors override their decisions because of parent pressure, it is impossible to teach life lessons.
My theme song, Aaron Tippin’s “You’ve got to Stand for Something” (or you’ll fall for anything), is appropriate here because if you are not backed and you don’t take a stand you will not really be in control of your own destiny.
Travel basketball coaches for AAU, MAC, YBOA and MBNation teams have a better chance of teaching needed life lessons. The reason is if the player and their parents don’t like the way their child’s team is being run, they can find another team.
These outside teams are formed through tryouts or by invitation.
High school athletics should be more than recreation, entertainment and physical fitness. They should teach values that players can use for their entire lives. They should develop coping skills, discipline and an understanding that life is not fair at times. They also should learn teamwork, that there is no ‘I’ in the word team, and how to accept a role on a team and have responsibility to a group.
It is impossible today to teach these life lessons if parents put pressure on school administrators, from the athletic directors to school boards and boards of directors. This violates the main objective of why interscholastic high school athletics were put into the education curriculum in the first place.
That is why I couldn’t coach today, except maybe a nonschool team.