August 4, 2012 by David Gillaspie
I saw it coming my way.
The game was over and a dad from my team walked toward my car.
I knew this guy and he wasn’t parked anywhere near me. And he was giving the hand signal of “Wait!”
First he asked if his kid was hurt during the game.
I said no.
Then he asked if his kid asked to be taken out.
I said no. Can you anticipate the next question?
He asked why I took his kid out of the game.
Once that question hits the air, it’s time to teach a hard lesson.
I said, “I’ll answer your question as a coach, a parent, and a friend.”
1. As a coach I want your kid to grow in any sport he chooses. I took him out and put him in where he’d have the best chance of doing well. Kids drop sports when they’re not as good as their teammates. I want your kid around when the good players today drop out to become the cool guys who don’t anything as stupid as sports.
Most guys who quit point to a coach or a teacher. If a kid points to me in the future it’ll be because I gave them the best chance they had to stay in the game as long as they could. I’m talking season after season. Your kid could be one of those.
The dad didn’t get the answer he wanted, one he could blast his frustration on, so he asked for the parent explanation.
2. You’re kid has trouble catching and passing the ball. He has trouble shooting and dribbling. Spend more time with him on the court, on your driveway, in your backyard. I get him a few hours a week. You get him all the time. Make him better by helping his hand-eye coordination.
Do that and you’ll have his gratitude the rest of your life. He’ll remember your attention, how it improved his game, and he’ll apply it to other difficult tasks. That’s what sports does best. It shows you the bogus ceiling and how to crack it. Your kid will get better with your help.
This explanation was no better than the coach-talk. The dad wanted something he could chomp on, like my good intentions gone bad. So…
3. As a friend this will be hard to hear. We’ve hung out together. Our kids play together. Yet here we are in the parking lot talking about playing time like every other overbearing parent who thinks they’ve got a superstar in their house and a coach who is ruining his chances.
You paint that picture and put me in? And you’re wrong. A friend gets it. They know their pal isn’t dumping on them. They know a friend has the best intentions. Your kid will be a better athlete with or without you, but you won’t be a better friend than you were before this.
You want to talk about your kid, let’s talk. You want to talk about the game? So do I. You want to drill me for ruining your kid’s game because he don’t know how to get with him and help him get better. That’s not helpful. Or friendly. Maybe you need a review. Play catch with your kid. Challenge him to get better. Make it harder as he improves.
Or hustle over and break my balls for your neglect. That’s always easier. And it’s pathetic. You ought to be ashamed of yourself. Better yet, you ought to coach a team next time around and let your kid play the whole game. Here’s what’ll happen: the team won’t like it, the parents won’t like it, and years later they’ll all point to you as the reason they bailed on sports.
Be a coach. You never played anything. Can’t catch or shoot. Can’t dribble. But you still ought to coach. Do it for your kid and watch him suffer from your lack.
Know what I’m going to do right now? I’m going to another gym with another team I coach. It’s a game against players coached by a McDonald’s all-American. Know what’s going to happen? We’re going to kick their butts in a fun way. And their coach will freak out. Parents will track him down in the parking lot.