Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Coaches Behaving Badly

We were at my son's basketball game last night and their team participates in a Catholic school league in the area.   Our team won last night which was great since they lose about half of the games they play.   As for this game, both teams played hard...they really did.  On their way out, the losing team's coaches had an argument in the hallway which escalated into pushing and shoving, which then escalated in profanity.  I didn't see the end of their disagreement since "they took it outside" but I saw the beginning.  One coach was reprimanding the other one for not telling their boys that they had had a good game even though they lost.  They did have a good game.  They were trying their hearts out.

Photo credit.

So why do some coaches behave so badly in front of children?  Is it so devastating to lose a basketball game?  To lose every basketball game?  I know it's frustrating for coaches because they put a lot of their time and efforts in training the kids.  I get that and admire their dedication to working with kids in a positive way.  What I don't get is when their frustration reaches a level where it spills over and creates a scene in front of kids.

Fr. Robert Barron quoted a French writer on a recent Youtube video about what was the worst or saddest thing that could happen to someone.  He said, "not to become a saint.  You can be the president of the U.S. and it's all meaningless if you do not become a saint."

Well, the coaches behavior certainly wasn't saintly and I pray they realize the errors of their ways, forgive each other and apologize to their players and parents who witnessed the argument.

The season is only half over.



  1. That's a shame.

    I suggest that you print that post off and mail it to the CYO sports commissioner for your diocese. Request that it be distributed to each parish. Maybe someone will see himself in it--and think twice next time.

  2. I've never understood this kind of behavior from coaches, Noreen. It sets such a poor example for kids. Yikes!

  3. As a hockey wife, hockey mom and hockey sister I have to admit I actually can understand this behavior. I have witnessed extreme emotions rising from sports fans, parents and coaches, good and bad. I can't explain why sports produce such an intense connection but I have felt it and understand the power it has over good sense. Especially when it's your child out there and your defensive instinct is triggered yet you must remain a helpless observer.

    I can see how coaches get attached enough to their team to feel the same defensive instinct. I'm not saying this behavior is justified, but I can say I understand how sports can make good people act badly without thinking.

  4. Interesting comment Barb. I will mention it to my son's coach to see if he's already acted on it.

    I'm with Mary on this one. I don't get how an adult can lose control like that over a kid's game.

    In your experience Tricia, you probably have seen a lot of that behavior. While reading your comment, this thought jumped into my mind that "perhaps it's the devil's playground" because he'll get you any way he can. I just hope they feel ashamed of their behavior instead of justifying it. We all act out in anger in various circumstances and need to do our best to restrain it before it hurts others.

  5. A lady from my church thought the same thing about it being the "devil's playground" and suggested praying the St. Michael prayer when in these situations.

  6. I think whenever there is frustration and we're not vigilant, then we can fall into that trap. I like the idea about praying the St. Michael prayer. We say it every morning on the way to school and it brings me comfort knowing my son will be protected by St. Michael.

  7. This is such a good post. All too frequently coaches and parents 'get caught up in the game'. However, one of the fruits of the spirit is self control and how can we teach our kids self control if we loose it at a game?

  8. I couldn't get comments to work on the "thankful"post above..so I'm putting my comment here...I have always had a special love/prayerfulness toward those who take their own lives; having known 5+ people who have done so in my own life. Truly, that is satan's greatest snare...to succeed in pushing a Child of God to the point of "despair". May the Lord's MERCY conquer his cheap wiles and lies.

    As for the coaches...some, I think, are 'in the game' because they love God's gift of sports/recreation and they truly wish to impart the "lessons of life" that can be inculcated by taking part in team sports...as well as the fundamentals and skills and talents that can be developed in our youth...and others are there for their own distorted glory and to live or re-live a (usually failed) dream of their own vicariously through "their team"...they are on a "power" high and are there for all the wrong reasons. It is becoming increasingly difficult to find a "truly good" coach in youth sports...thankfully, my sons have had wonderful experiences under their own coaches...but have met up with some of these others on opposing teams. I would suggest that a parent remove their child from a team immediately when a coach is acting like this...that is...if the team refuses to remove the coach; which should be the first action taken.

  9. I am a basketball coach and the only thing that frustrates me is when the referees do not call fouls and the physicality increases over the course of the game, and injuries that last beyond the contest occur. A girl on my team suffered a concussion in our second game of the year, due to the referees not calling reaching fouls and not even bothering to call an earlier elbow to the face a foul earlier in the contest. It doesn't cause me to curse, but it did cause me to give both referees the lowest ratings available and to document the situation on the state's reporting site. I hope we never encounter those particular referees again. The usual temptation is that when your expectations are unreasonably high you will encounter high levels of stress and disappointment. My expectation is that the girls will play their best, support each other, and truly play for the greater glory of God. Win or lose we do a cheer after the game where we come together and should, "For Him!"
    I do tell my players to stay within themselves and not make mental errors or commit frustration fouls, and that means I sure better not get a technical or act deserving of censer after the game either.