The current trend with some athletes, coaches, athletic boosters, or even athletic directors is to point the finger at someone else when things don’t go as planned.
The player blaming the coach, the coach pointing the finger at the AD, and the parents looking to place the blame anywhere but on the shoulders of their players.
I’ve seen this episode happen many times in my coaching and playing experience. I know this situation from practically every imaginable direction. As a coach. As a parent.
And, I was that player.
In my senior lacrosse season, I had a very similar incident. In the heat of battle after a very controversial call that may have cost us the county championship, I told the referee what I thought of the call and used a few choice adjectives and adverbs to explain our side.
When it was reported to our coach, some disciplinary actions ensued and we were temporarily suspended from the team.
Three players suspended, two stayed, and one left the building.
Our coach reprimanded us with appropriate punishment for our actions but I became bored with the punishment. I didn’t get tired of the physical punishment from running “separators” or hills; we didn’t do any of that.
I got bored with not being able to be a part of the team. That’s why we played the game, to be a part of the team.
Taking me out of that team atmosphere essentially ended my lacrosse career. But there was only one person to blame in that situation, and that was me.
Our coach acted swiftly and as severely as the situation dictated but did so with the goal of keeping us in the program.
I’m the one that took the walk.
The whole situation started not with the altercation with the coach, but my unnecessary interaction with the referee. Actually. it started a couple of years before that when the coach needed me to play a position that I didn’t “want” to play so I chose to use an attackman’s stick to play defense.
And the next year when, due to my performance in the classroom, I was declared academically ineligible for the second half of a magical 12-0 season.
The incident that ended my career in my senior year was just the culmination of the decisions and actions I had taken leading up to that point.
None of those incidents I could blame on my coach. Or the athletic director. Or my parents. Not even the principal.
I alone was responsible for the behaviors of each of those incidents, and 30-some years later they are all part of the fabric of my life. I have few regrets in my life, but my behavior in each of those situations is something I’d like to have a chance to do over.
I absolutely have cut some kids in my club years based on their attitude on the field and toward other players and the behavior of some of their parents.
You may not agree with it, but I’d be lying if I didn’t own up to it.
I’ve also kept kids on my roster despite their parents’ behavior, because you may be your “brother’s keeper,” but you don’t have to be the same for your parents.
The main influence on our kids’ education outside of the home is the classroom, where they learn the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic, but more importantly how to interact with their classmates, their teachers, administrators, and every other member of the staff. We learn that people come from all walks of life and backgrounds and each have their own stories and purpose in life yet all work together to create the best learning environment available.
That extends to the gridiron, diamond, pitch, field, or court where many of the same interactions with teammates, coaches, and referees teach the athletes respect for their teammates, opponents, and authority figures that will serve them well over time.
The lessons we learn in sports are easily transferable in life. These are the times where we can help mold the students’ ability to think for themselves, to respect people whose opinions and positions may be different than ours, and take responsibility for their words and their actions.
Failure to take personal responsibility is now sneaking its way into the workforce where parents are calling to question their adult child’s performance evaluation or the lack of a pay raise. Throughout your work life you will find individuals and situations that may not be ideal for meeting your personal goals, but you have to learn to coexist, to work together to find a common solution.
Anne Frank once wrote, “Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person's character lies in their own hands.”
It’s up to the adults to help give them the tools to build that character.