Monday, December 21, 2015

Little League

Sports Illustrated, a few months back, had an article about the "End of the Abusive Coach." It was pretty spot on in my opinion. Some of the stuff that coaches do and say to their players is wacky as hell and some of it borders on criminal. Belittling players, pushing players, screaming and not teaching. All of that stuff is CRAP. 

I have always thought that Vince Lombardi was the worst thing that happened to coaching. No, not the man or the man as a coach. It is more the idea of what Lombardi was like to everyone else. A screamer and yeller, a tough ass who didn't give a damn about his players. That's the image, not the truth, but it seems like he is remembered like that by some coaches, and so they try to live up to that image.

I reckon that I was fortunate.  I began playing football when I was in third grade and continued until I was done with my senior year in college.  Little league, high school, junior college, senior college.  

In all those years of playing, both in practice and games, not one coach grabbed me or even screamed at me.  That is a long time not to catch an ass chewing.  And I played for some tough guys.  Ex-Marines, guys with bullets lodged in their spines.  I respected them, hell, I liked them as people.  Almost all of them appreciated hard work and enthusiasm.  

That doesn’t mean that they didn’t get pissed off at times, but usually they pulled players to the side and taught them. They just got a stern talking to.  These were confident men who didn’t need to belittle anyone or push us around to make a point.  Confident men who were good athletes and actually played the game.  They understood that just running people just to run people wasn’t the brightest thing in the world to do. Better to teach. Be a teacher. All of these experiences, especially the little league one, started my fire for football and made me love the game like crazy.

I had a situation a few months back where I was around some little league football and it was outrageous. Yelling, screaming, and no teaching, at least no teaching that was worth a damn. Very few water breaks, even in 92 degree heat. If you were playing the whole game, the only time that you could get water was at halftime. No taking off of the helmets. It was unreal, some dark ages stuff and those coaches were fortunate that nothing happened to any of those little kids. If something did happen, the screaming and ass chewing and little tiny armbands with plays on them(!) and the insidious practice of running long slow laps and the throwing the football at players and the "I am so great but really I couldn't play dead in a cowboy movie" personas wouldn't mean a whole helluva lot, now would they? 

But it seems to be par for the course these days, all show and no go, don't take the time out to teach anyone, just act like you know what you are doing and then blame the athletes. Parents weren't much better, gesticulating, running onto the field, cussing out opposing teams (these are 8-10 year old kids), and generally acting like asses. 

I guess that since I hadn't been around little league since the 70's that I was expecting stuff to be like it was back then- One or two coaches, some cheerleaders, players having fun but still getting after it, and parents who were there to watch and be quiet and eat hot dogs and they seemed to know that it was all a learning process. 

Screw it! Nothing is just cool anymore, it all has to be over the top craziness, and Facebook posts and filming every play and everybody just dying for attention for themselves. Makes me a little ill and angry and a little , no more than a little, disappointed in how this whole thing has turned out.

All About Being a Lifer

What's a Lifer? Someone who isn't in to something for just a day, a month, a's for life. Whether its training or your family or your doesn't matter. You work at it, you build on it, you see the big picture . You don't miss workouts because it means something to you. You are like a Shakespearean actor- no matter what is going on in your life, you block it out when it's time to train. You walk into the weight room and all else disappears. Worry about it later.