Lessons for fans, coaches and players


Most fans “weigh in” on each sporting event watched, which includes opinions expressed during the game as well. The fan sitting alongside endures unsolicited opinion as each game unfolds. The opinions, both during and after the game, sound something like this: ‘What’s the football coach doing…what’s he thinking…why doesn’t he play “Johnny” more…why isn’t “Johnny” starting…can’t he be more innovative…why did he move up that sophomore, doesn’t he know he’s only causing dissension…etc.

Basketball season is no different. All the same questions are asked. The only difference is it’s a different coach to be scrutinized. Whether it’s football, basketball, baseball, hockey, even youth sports, the opinion of the fan can be harsh.

Having experienced the qualifiers of coaching, parenting and playing, I can honestly say, every coach I have ever spoken with, has the best interest of each child he coaches at heart. He cares deeply about each player. That being said, fans may not agree, at all times, with the coaches philosophy. That does not, however, make it okay to “rip him” as though airing your displeasure is somehow beneficial. Perhaps we could all benefit from a never-to-be forgotten Homily, “if it’s not kind, necessary, true and uplifting, don’t say it.”

The coach honestly cares about your child. Each coach wishes there were enough minutes in every game to keep everyone satisfied. Because there is not enough time to play each player equally, the coach must make tough decisions. The coach sees what happens at practice every day. He has a lot more information to discern than the average fan, who only sees game minutes. Also, without question, for the player who is disappointed in how the season unfolds, he/she will find, over time, that when things don’t go as they like, it truly affords an opportunity to build character and provides an early life lesson on just what it will take to overcome difficulty.

A general consensus surfaces among fan chatter, “Coaches must fully realize all the decisions made affect more than just the players. When a child hurts, the parent hurts, period, as it is a God-given response.” Paraphrasing more opinion, ‘When you move one sophomore up to the varsity, one freshman up to the JV’s, it means one player doesn’t start, one player doesn’t play and one player doesn’t make the team. Therefore, please be considerate when making these decisions. Why’s coach doing this? Will it actually result in more wins? Is one more win worth it? Nobody is totally opposed to move ups, if they really belong and it’s necessary.” Consequently, coach, “when you place all the facts on the table, what’s the ripple effect? The truth is, if you don’t make every child on the team feel as though they are a real, vital part of the team, you have failed, even if you win every game.”

All coaches desire success. However, are wins the only measure of success? Coaches have an opportunity, each year, to build character, integrity and provide tools for life, which are far more important than wins. You have the responsibility that includes how to handle life when things don’t go as expected and dreams, yes dreams, are shattered. Your players are fragile, handle with care!

Mike Cousineau