Cowichan Valley Football Association

Things that look bad, that aren’t – and it’s OK!

Things that look bad, that aren’t – and it’s OK!


Passing judgment on others is almost a cottage industry in the world of minor sports.  Apparently most youth sports are crawling with unethical, mean spirited, no nothing coaches whose only desire is to demean and embarrass kids at any cost.  Or, at least that’s what we hear.

The truth is, obviously, that our volunteer coaches are no more perfect than the next person, but realistically we feel they need to be given more of the benefit of the doubt, than they have been in recent years.  Again, it is probably due to lack of experience with the game that causes the misunderstandings that drive the complaints.

This is not to say that there might be some legitimate complaints that have merit, but here  are a few situations that may look a lot worse than they are and like we said above may need some benefit of the doubt given before calling foul:

Yelling

Let’s state it clearly right up front that profanity has no place in the game, regardless of the level of play. It is the refuge of a weak mind and by all means if your child’s coach is using it like an adverb you have every right to ask him to tone it down. However, this may not apply to yelling in general.

Football is loud game by nature and with many player spread out over a large area the raising of voices comes naturally. Corrective statements, encouragement, instructions all can come across loudly and could seem rather brusk. This doesn’t necessarily make it bad. Yelling in the heat of battle may come with heightened emotions, but unless they are singling out your child with some choice words you can’t say on TV, let it be.  It’s been a part of the game forever, & adds to the passion.

Benching

So, what do you do with your child when he or she misbehaves?  Coaches have few options when it comes to players stepping over the line either in their deportment on field or their behavior towards opponents, officials, teammates or coaches.

The most popular of these options is “benching” or not allowing the player to continue playing. If you notice your child is in one of these situations, we’re not asking you to totally take the coaches side but simply think it through in that a coach wouldn’t take such drastic measures unless something truly untoward has happened. At the end of the day, he is responsible for the behaviour and operation of the team – just like you are in your house with your family – so unless you want to be grilled every time you send a child to their room for misbehaving, cut the coach some slack and realize that there is more than likely a legitimate reason for his decision.

Everyone loves their children but if you’re honest with yourself, you’ll realize that they too are not perfect, and entirely capable of making a mistake or choosing an inappropriate attitude. Talk with the coach if you wish, but a confrontational attitude will not make the situation any better.

There may be many reasons for a child to not be getting onto on field up to and including having the player tell the coaches he doesn’t want to play anymore (which happens more than you think at the Atom level).  All we’re saying is jumping to the conclusion that the coach “has it in” for your child is probably the least likely scenario taking place.

Blowouts

“That @#$%& coach is running up the score against our team on purpose!”

Happens all the time – right?  One of the downsides to football is that blowouts do happen, and it’s too bad, but it is a reality.  Sometimes, a coach or coaching staff will come along and develop a team into a well oiled machine.  Add some talented players, and you’ve got a juggernaut capable of scoring bundles of points and shutting out opponents at will.

Due to the nature of the game, the numbers it takes to field a team and the short season there is very little “tiering” that can take place to balance competition that you might be used to in other sports.  As a result there is normally only one level of play for your child’s team, therefore you get to experience the good, the bad, and the ugly teams, all on the basis of proximity.  Therefore, there might be a 50-0 game on your horizon with the score not in your favour. What were asking for is that before you leap to a negative conclusion you may consider that the coach of the winning team in that circumstance might not be the devil you take him for. In fact – he just might be a very good coach doing a great job with the kids he’s coaching.

Having said that, here are some thing to look for in a blowout situation that can give you a clue to whether the opposition (or in some cases your team), is doing all they can to keep the score differential from becoming worse.  A good measuring stick is what happens once a team is up by 30 or more points in the second half.

Are they:

  • Substituting freely? The most noticeable subs will be a quarterback and running back and should be of lesser talent than the starters.
  • Running in between the tackles? What this means is, are their offensive plays run mainly between the ends of the offensive line where there is the best chance for the defence to limit the gain.
  • Punting on third and short? Sure they could probably get the first down if they went for it with one or two yards to go, but instead they punt.
  • Not passing or taking any timeouts? These are clock stoppers and prolong the game. Good coaches know this and will avoid this at all costs.
  • Calling off the dogs? No more blitzing on “D”.

It may well be that the scoring will continue because the subs that are now in the game are still going to be trying their best, however if you notice the above situations taking place it’s best just to shrug and think about getting them next time, because the coach on the high end of the score is honestly doing what he can to keep things down.

Now, if you notice that the starters are still on the field, the offense is passing like crazy and their bench is still cheering lustily once the score reaches 70-0 feel free to express your opinion.  But normally the coach on the winning side of the ball is just a good man, who has done a very good job developing a team.  He shouldn’t be demonized for being successful and nothing will be gained from organizing the rest of the villagers to take up pitchforks and torches against him.

Sometimes you’re the bug and sometimes you’re the windshield. Take your child and some teammates out for a treat after the game and all will be forgotten.

Really – it’s OK.

In closing, it must be mentioned again that not everyone is perfect, and that includes you and every coach your child will experience. As well, some coaches may have ways of operating their teams that you might find distasteful just in general. It happens, but as long as he has been up front about the way things are going to be (i.e. in regards to playing
time, behaviour expectations, etc.) and is following through on what he had said, nothing can be gained by a  confrontation or complaint. If it’s not your cup of tea your only two choices are to remove your child from the team or simply agree to disagree.  Nobody gets into coaching to harm or demean kids. You wouldn’t – so to assume that others would is kind of out there. So relax, enjoy the sport for what it has to offer. If your child is coming home each day claiming that he or she is enjoying the experience then don’t sweat the small stuff.  Join in, participate, rise and fall with the team and you won’t regret it.

Thanks for signing your child up to play and we look forward to having him/her as a part of our family.