All Hail the Fearsome Football Coach
By: Angela Gillaspie © September 2003
Hoo boy, I'm out of my league - the youth football league, that is. Last year, my oldest son played for the first time and we painted our faces, cars, and shirts with his jersey number, and enjoyed the season. This year, my six-year-old son wanted to be involved in the fun, so I signed both boys up for the Junior 1 and Junior 3 teams, respectively, figuring that during their off days, they could tackle each other and leave their sister and baby brother alone.
After the first week of practice (in 95-degree heat, five days a week, for two and a half hours each day), my younger son asked to quit. The first weeks of practice are usually intense, so we asked him to stick it out. Another week went by and he begged to quit, saying, "I hate football. I don't know what to do and the coach yells at me all the time."
Concerned, I stopped swapping casserole recipes with the other moms and paid closer attention to my son on the field. After a few more practices, I agreed to let him quit. In three weeks, he went from liking to play to I'd-rather-eat-a-lizard-than-play. I partially blamed this on poor teaching techniques and bad communication skills of his coaches, plus his inability to understand strategy and handle the frustrations of football. My husband reluctantly agreed, but reserved official comment fearing that his status as a chest-thumping football dad would be tarnished.
Myself, I'm convinced that many coaches are trained in the Good-Ol'-Boy School of Football where the following courses are offered:
Sure, there are exceptions - like a couple of my oldest son's coaches - but many coaches act like pompous bullies. My husband disagreed, and with a look of pure affection said, "My coaches were great - even when they made us run seven sets of 50-yard suicide sprints up hill both ways in the driving rain."
Umm, yeah. Sure. Anyway, as a mom, I had certain expectations from the football program. These included:
On the other hand, my husband had a different set of expectations from the football program. These included:
Nope, I'm not going to win this argument because I happen to live in the Deep South where football is a religion and only the men have the key to the church doors. So I guess our six-year-old will get another year of toughening up before he tries football again.
Speaking of being tough, football coaches may be fearsome, but nothing's as frightening as the wrath of a ticked off Southern Momma with a hickory switch.
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