Recently, the story of the high school girls’ basketball team who beat their opponents 100-0 hit home with me, partially because it reminded me of the years my husband spent coaching. Rather than this being news about the decision of one coach in Texas, I think this is also a testament to the bad situations facing coaches everywhere. They are working non-stop, typically have good hearts, are trying to meet the administration/school budget goals of creating teams that perform well and meet parents’ expectations of competitiveness, but THEN when they really need the support and backing of the parents and the administration, they are left to flap in the wind.
Where was the coach’s staff during this event? He surely was not the only adult in the decision-making role here. Was the rulebook consulted? Did the referee allow the game to continue? Was the school’s athletic director or principal available for consultation? Did the coach discuss the state of the game with the other coach at half time?
To have a coach fired over this situation is something that I have to disagree with. There are also many unanswered questions. In all fairness, did the coach instruct the kids to hit all 3-pointers and to talk trash to the losing team, or did the coach instruct his players to be good sports and play the game? Was the coach intentionally encouraging bad sportsmanship, or was he just hoping the time would run out on the game so they could get this difficult situation over with?
NO coach is proud of a win when there is no competition at all. And no coach would offer a forfeit to help the other team save face either. Most teams would rather lose than get a “pity win” since pity teaches the kids nothing except to stop trying so hard and to stop caring. The forfeit is just a PR ploy that keeps the school looking good to the community, because honestly, school administrations and athletic departments do not have the time or the budgets to address issues or flak related to sports (much less law suits!!) The schools have enough on their hands devoting resources to truancy, No Child Left Behind, gangs/violence, lack of staff for developmentally challenged kids, etc. Sports programs are there to help with fundraising, create fun and provide extracurricular enrichment. If sports get to be problematic, it is always the administration’s way to take the easiest route and placate parents and community criticism (which causes more bad behavior). Coaches, sadly, are viewed as dispensable, and firing them is often seen as the final answer to a difficult situation, instead of making it an opportunity for growth and discussion and improvement that would benefit kids.
About Annita Wozniak
Annita Wozniak grew up in a large, imperfect family in the Midwest. "As adults we have the power to build children up or tear them down," she says about the challenges of being a responsible parent, "and we never know when what we say is going to be a defining moment in a child's life." Woz is a writer and child-grower living in the Midwest with her husband and their three inspirational children. She is always learning. You can visit her website at annitawoz.wordpress.com