Friday, September 6, 2013

A Team is Only as Good as It's Coach

My mom played basketball for Hinton High School in Hinton, OK all her high school years. From what I understand, she was really pretty good and I know she loved the sport. She lettered in it and until just a few years ago, I still had her Letterman jacket. Mom always said that any sports team is only as good as the coach leading them and Mom's coach was by the sound of it....phenomenal.

I don't remember the name of Mom's coach, so from here on I will simply call him Coach, nor am I even sure what position Mom played but I do know what she was taught by Coach and his legacy lives on through his players and their families. According to Mom...Coach believed that you played with integrity and that good sportsmanship was a must in every game, regardless of how the other team acted. Whether you would win or lose, if you played your best and left the court knowing you gave it your all, then you were a winner. was none of this PC stuff about "everyone is a winner whether you play or not." Coach believed that in every game you should expect nothing but the best from yourself and he expected that from every girl on the team. There were no points for merely showing up (don't even get me started on that mam-bee pam-bee philosophy). You had to work to keep your spot on the team and to play in the games, however he felt there was more to the sport than simply skills on the court. There was also respect for each other, the coach, your school, the other team and the fans. You played with integrity and you showed integrity both on and off the court. He also expected the same from both the parents and the fans who showed up to watch the game. Possibly because of these basic and yet important life skills that he instilled in these young women's minds, that Hinton High School team was a tough one to beat and the girls went on after high school to use the rules he taught in all facets of their lives. I know my mom did and she passed those life skills on to us kids.

Because of my early training.....I have always taught my kids respect for others, especially their elders and I have also taught them that it is not about winning or losing but it is all about how you play the game. It doesn't matter whether you are playing football or a board game, the rules still apply. I have followed the rules myself as a parent sitting at sporting events. I feel that sitting there, I am a reflection of my child's team, school and my town and I hope that my actions only bring pride and never shame. Sadly, I feel like Coach, Mom and my generation are quickly becoming the last of a dying breed.

I have almost quit attending sporting or otherwise. The sportsmanship both on and off the field anymore is disheartening to say the least and sad to watch knowing this is how the team is being represented. It is nothing to see players willfully trying to hurt each other, coaches turning a blind eye to foul language and aggressive actions, parents and fans berating the other team and each other and the ever present showboating of players whose ego's far outweigh their actual skills. What used to be fun for all and a source of pride for everyone is now just another lesson in how far our world has drifted from good sense, good values and good taste. It is no longer about how the game is played but about the win.....regardless how that win happens.

The last game (football) I went to I was so disgusted that I vowed not to attend another. From beginning to end it was an exercise in disrespect and bad manners. When the National Anthem was played and the flag appeared at the beginning, there was little respect shown. Men and boys refused to remove their hats, few hands could be seen covering their hearts and people talked and laughed through the entire thing. Even players and coaches seemed to care little that if not for that flag  and what that flag stood for, they might not have the luxury of being on that field. During the game, the coaches on both teams were seen cussing at the referees and screaming obscenities at their players when the points weren't favoring them. Many of the players showed they knew nothing of sportsmanship as they disrespected each other on the field and several times....opposing fans. Then of course there was at least two incidents of showboating. Both times touchdowns were not made by skill but only sheer luck and yet the players twisted, danced and goaded applause as their ego's soared. In the midst of it all were the fans. People with kids sitting right beside them cussed the opposing coach, players and fans in the most vulgar terms and at the concession stand I was witness to tempers flaring almost resulting in hand to hand combat. I stood there wondering just what the hell was happening to us as a people???? Never again.

Many scoff at the old days when coaches held themselves, their teams and their fans to a much higher standard. I have even heard someone say, "It is our right to free speech to say these things at a game." To that I say, "Just because you can say or do something doesn't always mean that you should nor does it mean that it is right." I am sure that if Mom or Coach were still alive today, they would be saddened at what passes for team sports and sportsmanship. By the way, Mom was right as usual. Any team is only as good as it's coach and come to think of it....that philosophy doesn't stop with sports. Any group is only as good as its leader. Without strong have nothing....and that is all I am saying on that!


Anonymous said...

Your last sentence says it all. Great blog.

Anonymous said...

Why should our sports teams have better leadership than our country in general. We are a product of our choices and so far those choices are pretty bad.

Jimmy from OKC said...

It is the same watching professional sports on TV. I can't stand showboating or the way the coaches and refs act. Sports just aren't as much fun as they used to be since players started taking drugs, committing crimes and coaches have lost respect for themselves, their teams and their fans. Nice blog.

Jimmy from OKC said...

BTW, I know where Hinton is!