Coaches Aren’t Exempt from the Golden Rule

download (20)To all you coaches out there, don’t be jerks to your players. They work their butts off most of the time and if they don’t, then handle it but otherwise, talk to them like human beings. In high school sports I had a few coaches yell at me like I was a dog on a near daily basis and to be honest, if I could go back in time I’d probably bust a few of them in the lip. They had no real power over me, but because I wanted to play basketball, I gave it to them. I shouldn’t have. 

Though this example isn’t sports related, I remember one “coach” who came to be the guest conductor during “music camp” when I was in college. I sang for a choir/chorus at a Christian college. This guy, from another Christian school and whose last name was/is King was absolutely terrible to us. He constantly insulted us and our singing by telling us we needed to sound “less high-schoolish” and would snap things at us like that we sounded like a run-away train. He would yell when we didn’t sing the song quite like he wanted us to. Then he had the gal and unrestricted hypocrisy to lead us in a pre-lunch devotional on being “Christ-like” to each other. What a joke.

After lunch, he looked at one girl (she was 19 or 20 so she was a woman) and singled her out by telling her that she sounded like a run-away train. She teared up and fought crying as best she could. No one else had the balls to say anything because, again, we gave him lots of power. I just wasn’t going to take it. If we were to have respect for him, he wasn’t going to mistreat us – especially not one of my friends and not while we were singing songs about the Son of God.

So I looked him in the eye and said where everyone, including him, could hear, “Say that to someone your own size” or something close to that (it’s been a few years). His eyes widened slightly as he stared back into my own. My shoulders were wider than his and at the time I had a look in my eye that probably told him it wouldn’t be past me to deck him to the floor. So next, when he realized I wasn’t looking away, he looked around at the others as though he had heard something but didn’t know what was said or who said it. But one final check from his eyes to mine said that he did. It also said that he was a coward. Bullies usually are.

I had a basketball coach in high school who kept me on the bench even though I was better than the starter in front of me. I was, even if I do say so myself. Another coach at the school privately told me the same. The reason he benched me was because I was a back up from another school and transferred. His ego prevented him from starting someone else’s back up. Of course, his record that year sucked and, just being honest here, we would’ve won more games with me in the starting five. He was a jerk to us as well and yet he spoke in chapel as though he were an example to us of Christian behavior.

Finally, just because I need to end this post/rant that could go a lot further, another Christian college (in the state of Tennessee) had a basketball camp. I attended and my parents paid a couple hundred dollars for me to be there. The coach of that university, who was also a coward because he cut and run when the competition increased, walked into the assembly and shouted his first words to us. They were, “Shut up, shut up, shut up!”

Real Christ-like. Great example because that’s what Jesus would’ve said to a bunch of children, right? Seems like I remember the Bible telling it differently. The rest of the time he made those opening remarks to us seem kind.

I encourage parents to demand more from our coaches. I honestly don’t know when it was that we decided it was okay for coaches to speak to (yell at) our children in ways that we ourselves would never. If they’re coaching at schools who claim to have staff that follow Jesus, it’s hypocrisy and abuse. If it’s at a public school, it’s at least abuse. Young men have enough crap to put up with and it seemed like it wasn’t okay to yell at girls that way. I’m sure there are exceptions but something tells me that parent’s wouldn’t put up with it as much if the insults and yelling was directed more at young women. Young guys are looked at differently I suppose.

To student athletes, I want to tell you that you don’t have to put up with it. Just because it’s your coach doing it doesn’t mean it isn’t immature or outright abusive. So you go the wrong way during a play once, or miss a shot – does that make you a terrible person? Does that mean that he must ridicule you in front of the other players at the top of his lungs? No, it doesn’t. Go to your principle. Go to your parents. Get his butt fired. I mean it! Until we demand more we’ll keep getting these cowards who feel better about their own failure to get to the pros or whatever their issue is by yelling at young men who can’t stand up to them or who are physically smaller.

Don’t believe it when they tell you it’s to prepare them for competition. Because even if that were true (it’s not) it still doesn’t make it okay.

If I ever catch anyone talking to my boys like that…

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