Sportsmanship?

Coaching my grand daughter's soccer team!
Coaching my grand daughter’s soccer team!

I have written from time to time my experiences in coaching teams. One of my posts, was on what would you do (as the coach) if your team is by far better than your opponent? The short version of that post is the debate over to run the score up… For me, it is not about running the score up, individual or team stats, or wins. It is about the players…

I have coached for many years. My coaching experiences come from coaching softball, soccer, and ice hockey at all levels of each league. I have coached the league rec, all-star and competitive teams. Each level has much different challenges as a coach. There is one thing that remains the same – it should be about the players only! Teaching, mentoring and coaching for them to improve in their sport and life in general.

Just the other day, I was read about a Little League Softball team  may have decided to “tank” a game to insure make sure a team did not make it in the next level of the tournament. The excuse was they rested the better players. Good thought! Especially in those long tournaments. The team ended up losing 8-0. They still would go onto the last 4 teams. A protest from the team that was knocked out because they felt the team lost on purpose. Little League heard and ruled that a one game playoff be awarded to settle the dispute. The team that protested ended up winning.

Running up the score or making the decision to not field your best is always going to be a hot topic. The center of the argument for me is that the decision is all centered on the adults in the mix.  Nothing should take the attention away from the players.

  • What life lessons are we teaching these young players? Coaches need to remember that they are there to coach and mentor their team. They are there to uphold the leagues values. Did the coach purposely lose? I don’t know, the evidence from a far suggests he did not try to win. Now, those players have to live with this experience… The good thing is the players will get over it, they did nothing wrong. Time heals that wound.
  • Volunteer coaches need to have proper training! Coaching is not easy! It is a continuous learning experience for me. Not only the game that is played, but coaching the players of today. If you think you could use the techniques that were employed by coaches when you were playing – think again! League’s across this country in all sports need to have coaching clinics for their coaches. They need to watch for signs of sportsmanship and fair play – if a coach is not living up the league’s values – retrain or replace.

Some of my most fondest memories of growing up are in the sports that I played. I think back and the first thing that pops into my head is the teammates that I played with. The fun that we had being together (win or lose). I do remember a few coaches that truly help shaped the person that I am today.

I only hope that the players on the team that lost the playoff can look back in the years to come and not think about what could have been… They need to look at the fun that they had with their teammates and parents. They played the game!