Athletes are Tough, Parents are Not
High school athletics has turned into high school politics
Published: Monday, February 10, 2014
Updated: Monday, February 10, 2014 09:02
When I was in grade school, my dream was to be a high school coach. I thought coaching a team that the community rallied around and supported was as good a job as there is. Then, I became a high school athlete and realized the headache involved in being a head coach of teenagers.
But it isn’t dealing with the players that cause the headaches anymore. Now, it’s dealing with the politics and the nagging from the parents.
It’s the “you need to play my kid more” parents. It’s the “don’t be hard on my kid, he doesn’t respond well to that” parents. It’s the “you need to play the seniors more” parents. It’s the “you play the seniors too much” parents. It’s the “set up a play” from the bleachers parents.
These parents are a coach’s worst nightmare. And unfortunately, these parents are having a say on a coach’s job. Disgruntled parents, doing their best to continue the softening of America, are whining to administration about their kids’ feelings getting hurt. And lacking the testicular fortitude to tell the parents to stop babying their child, the administration sides with the parents.
Such was the case last week with Fargo Shanley head baseball coach Joel Swanson. Swanson sent a text message to his players that revealed his displeasure with the lack of participation in open gyms. He said he is sick of the excuses and some players “may be in for a rude awakening when the season comes and you are not in the lineup due to a younger player that puts in the time.”
Before Swanson even knew of a complaint, he was gone. It was decided his contract would not be renewed. He didn’t even get a chance to sit down and talk to the parent that issued the complaint.
The only word that was semi-inappropriate in the text message was “pathetic.” That’s it. But it didn’t matter. One parent that had a vendetta against Swanson cost him his job of 14 years.
When did things change that a teenager couldn’t receive a butt-chewing lecture? Since when is it threatening if a coach tells you if you aren’t prepared for the first practice, the ones who put the work in will get the first shot at playing time?
I had a coach once tell us the day after a bad loss to eat a big meal during lunch, because we’re going to need it for practice. Scary? Yes. Threatening enough to run and tell our parents we don’t think coach should be coaching anymore? Heck no.
Parents are always telling kids how tough they had it when they grew up. So why are they trying to break the already damaged backbone of our society? Playing a sport is supposed to teach you discipline, sacrifice, determination and to tough it out in challenging situations. Not to get soft and hide behind a filed complaint when your feelings or pride gets hurt.
Every high school coach has to deal with this. Sometimes it involves a school board member that puts a coach in the doghouse because their kid isn’t playing enough. Other times, it’s simply a parent who thinks their son or daughter is the best thing to happen to this world since electricity.
The fact of the matter is these parents are setting their kids up to have a rude awakening. While their noses are so far up in the air, they don’t notice their kids are growing up expecting everything to be handed to them. And that’s when kids hit the real world like a dog hitting a patio door.
Stop picking your kids’ fights. They need to learn how to handle it like an adult should. Stop bringing your own politics into the team. I’ve seen plenty of high school teams deteriorate simply because the parents got too involved. Stop driving a coach out of his or her job. Show some guts, some tough skin and some spine and realize they know how to do their job.
What happened to “your coaches are always right, so listen to them?” What happened to “if you want something, you have to work hard and earn it?”
Doesn’t the saying go that nothing in life is handed to you? Or does a college student’s column need to remind parents of this? Because if you continue to intrude on your kids’ high school sporting career, it won’t just be the coach that suffers the unjustified consequences … your kid will also suffer the consequences later in his or her life.
Love or hate this column? Email Sam at sports@ ndsuspectrum.com