Saturday, June 20, 2009

Coach's tough decision

Dear Good Sports,

I was out with some parents the other day and heard something that I wanted to share with you.

At one of the children's recent games, one of the players really had an attitude. He was acting out a lot and wouldn't listen to Coach Mary. He was really disrupting the game. He even started walking off the field when he was annoyed. Coach told him if he left the field, he was out of the game.

I'm sure you know what came next: with that ultimatum, the boy turned and walked off.

The Coach called in a sub and the game continued.

I'm sure you won't be surprised to hear that about 5 minutes later the boy returned to the game and fully expected to be allowed back into the game. But Coach Mary remained firm: "You disobeyed me. I told you what would happen if you left the field. You chose to leave so you can't play anymore today."

Now -- this boy is a star player. When he left the game, his team started losing. By keeping him out of the game, the team lost. Of course, some of the other parents and kids were mad that she wouldn't let the boy back into the game.

Coach Mary stood firm with her decision. The player needed to respect and listen to his coach and behave in a way that helped his team, not hurt it.

I'm sure you can see Coach Mary made a tough decision -- and understand why she did it, even if, in your heart of hearts, you might not have wanted the team to lose and think you might have been a little more lenient. She surely didn't want the team to lose, either.

But by showing the boy that his actions had consequences by enforcing the consequences, Coach Mary made the hard choice to potentially sacrifice this game for, hopefully, a better, stronger, happier season and team going forward. (A lesson that can extend into behaviour off the ball field, too.)

Maybe not a popular choice, but certainly the right one.

Blog you again, soon, with some more Good Sport Bad Sport topics.


P.S. Our book on Good Sportsmanship is being published by Good Manners Kids Stuff Press and will be available on Amazon soon. Watch our posts for more information or visit to read all the behind the scenes activity behind the publication.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Don't make my child play defense

Dear Good Sports,

It may shock you to hear that parents sometimes freely offer up their opinion to their child's coach as to what position their child should or should not play.

You're shocked, shocked, you say.

Who would do that, you wonder. Who?

That person would have some nerve, you say. How obnoxious.

Except that ... my son really wants to score a goal.
Or ...
My daughter is bored waiting for action at the other end of the field.

Those are different situations -- surely the coach understands and will put my child on offense. After all -- he/she really wants to do it.

Well, Coach understands all too well that the kids (and the parents) may have some preconceived ideas about the positions they want to play (or want their kids to play).

No one would argue that there's something spectacular about the winning touch down by the quarterback and the running back. Wanting that for your child is completely understandable (and okay, maybe re-living your dream is understandable, too).

But there's a whole field full of positions that make just as vital a contribution to that winning play as the quarterback and running back. And the children will never know if they could excel at them if they don't ever have the opportunity to play or learn them.

My husband, Bill, was at the Lacrosse Coaches Wrap Up meeting this evening. One topic of discussion was the fact that some of the parents demand that their children don't play any of the defensive positions.

Now, this is coaching for the younger, beginning players -- not for older, experienced kids. The league rule is and always will be that all kids play all positions. However unpopular this rule always is with outspoken parents, this year was no exception. The league position is that it gives the kids a chance to learn and understand the complete game -- and gives them the opportunity to find out at which position they're really good (had to retype that so as not to end with a preposition --I was an English major, after all).

The funny thing is that the child of one of the most adamant parents turned out to be REALLY good at defense, rather than attack. If the coach had given into the parent's demand, the little girl would never have found out how good she was at defense. And when she excelled, she really started loving lacrosse.

So what's the Good Sport Bad Sport blog message tonight?
Your coach is always right.
(Just kidding. Coach Bill wanted me to say that.)

But seriously -- in this instance, Coach is right. So, let your child play defense. She'll also get a chance to play offense. And you'll all get to see which position is best for her.

Blog you soon with another Good Sport Bad Sport Topic,


P.S. "The Coach is always right" is not to be confused with "The Coach always makes my child play defense," a topic that we'll cover in another post.

P.P.S. Our book on Good Sportsmanship is being published by Good Manners Kids Stuff Press and will be available on Amazon soon. Watch our posts for more information or visit to read all the behind the scenes activity behind the publication.