Monday, December 12, 2011

A Ray of Hope

I am still shocked and saddened as details continue to emerge from various coaching scandals across the country. It seems like in recent years, there has been a sharp increase in reports. I wonder if it has always been a problem, or it's becoming more common. I don't know of anyone's child who was personally affected by sexual abuse from a coach. But, living in a fairly small city where school sports are one of the few recreational activities that children and their families have to look forward to, I have seen a lot of questionable behavior from sports management.

I recently, had a conversation with my budding athletes about the importance of sports being for fun at their age. They show great promise and I want them to set goals to be outstanding. But, anything could happen. Illness or injury could easily prevent them from playing. Aside from that, I have noticed a culture of coaches who are more concerned with their winning average than the individual player.

We have been following the story of a young man from the area who won national football accolades two years in a row. This young man attended the best school system in the county. By the end of his senior year, he had no scholarship due to the fact that his grade and test scores were so low. To my knowledge he did not got to college at all. Two years later, now that he is forgotten by all of his "fans", he has turned to a life of crime. He was being sought on home invasion and rape charges. Clearly the people he spent the most time with, were only concerned with his contribution to the team, and not his future. No one even cared enough to intervene to ensure his scholastic success.

 I am happy to have come across a coach who is still doing so for the love of children, and sport. I came across a situation recently where I was watching an intense soccer game. During the height of the competition,  one of the star forwards of the soccer team sprained his ankle. His adrenaline and desire to aid his team in victory, motivated him to attempt to stay in the game.  "I'm okay coach!" He kept saying. "I can play...please let me play!" The coach simply looked at his gate while he walked, and could tell that his player was not fine. Instead of letting his own competitive nature rule, the coach benched the player for the rest of the game. The coaches philosophy is that, the welfare of the child is more important than the victory.

I consider this example of leadership and responsible behavior a ray of hope in the midst of broken trust. There are some men and women out there that remember the lessons derived form sports, are bigger than what is happening on the field, court, rink, pool, etc... There are some coaches that remember that they have an opportunity to shape the minds and hearts of the next generation. They hope to inspire their players in their chosen sport, but also in life.

I still contend that we MUST be diligent in watching over our children. It is better to injure a coaches pride than to have your child be literally injured by a monster who is preying on defenseless victims. But, I am proud to put my children with a coach that cares more about them than the game. I am proud to endorse a someone that rises to the ideological standard that we expect when we reminisce back to a coach that had an affect on us. For these men and women are a silver lining on the black cloud of coaching scandals and disappointments. These individuals, provide hope, that what we want, and expect for our children is possible. At this moment, I am proud to call that coach, my husband.

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