This is one of the those surreal experiences that happen and you replay them in your mind and wonder what you did to deserve this type of reaction, then you just can’t believe someone would do that to you. I have been a coach since the 1st year I started teaching in the Bronx. Coaching almost every sport is something that be checked off my list. In those 10 years of coaching I have always dealt with parents and most are very respectful and want to help and understand that I am the coach and my decision is final. Since moving back to Birmingham it has become apparent to me that is not always the case. In the last 2 years of coaching basketball at the middle school level I have encountered some very interesting parents, but recently the cherry was put on top of my already wonderful sundae.
Let me set the scene, and be aware I am trying to be as objectionable as possible. We finished a game of basketball and one of my players goes straight to the locker room without shaking hands with the other team. As a human being and a coach I have absolutely no tolerance for bad sportsmanship. We are battling in a game and when that battle is over you congratulate the other player(s) for their hard work and the great opportunity to compete and hopefully get better at your craft or sport. So that is my stance on that subject. I walked into the locker room after the game and my team followed me inside. When they all arrived I addressed that player and asked what he thought he was doing. His comment was, “I had to pee.” I understand having to use the restroom, but the congratulating the other team took all of 30-35 seconds, you can hold your bladder that long and not to mention get in the front of the line and get it done and go do what you have to do. So I told the student that he was suspended the next game. I was so mad that I told the team as a whole to get out of my face. Now I know that what a rude way to say leave I will see you tomorrow, I have nothing else to say right now, but I was frustrated and wanted them out of the locker room before I got angry and took it out on them and did not need to do that to them as a team. Overall my team had worked hard that game and I was proud of them, but I know myself and I was angry and did not want that to be portrayed to them after they had worked so hard. Well I let them leave the locker room and took a couple of minutes to gather my thoughts and walked out. I was immediately confronted by a father. He got in my face and said, “Get out of your face.” Now I have lived NYC and people have tried to intimidate me and have failed on most occasions, this man was no exception. He was about 3 inches from my face and I let this father know that I think we are both angry and this is not the way we should address this issue. I would be glad to talk to him about the issue tomorrow after practice, but now there was too much adrenaline flowing through both of us to have this discussion without saying something either one of us regret. I also said that I did not mean the statement towards the team and that my frustration was from the poor refereeing and that one of my players was a bad sport after the game. This seemed to calm him enough to back away from me, score one for me for not blowing up and being the calm one in a situation. I thought that was the end of my night, but as I was taking my players out to the bus after the game another parent wanted to ask me some questions. This one did not go so well.
The player’s mom that I had suspended the next game came and asked me if her son was suspended for the next game, I said yes and explained why(bad sportsmanship, no tolerance, and that is not what I teach my players, blah, blah, blah). She not once mentioned that her son was wrong for not congratulating the other team, she was very concerned about his suspension. Now this is a parent that I rarely see at games and is normally picking their child up late from practice, so since she was there I wanted to talk to her about her son and his grades in school. Now you have to understand that I as a coach see much farther down the road than just high school and college. I want my athletes to be great students, role models of the school, and then lastly athletes. This has always been my philosophy and will be till my dying day because not one of my players has ever made it into professional sports, but all of them will have to have a job one day that will not involve sports. I took this opportunity to ask her if she was concerned with her son’s grades and I explained that he was doing poorly in 3 classes and had gotten into trouble with 2 teachers last week, which I talked to him about his behavior and told him that was not tolerated. She tells me that, “Yes, I am fucking concerned about my son’s grades”. At this point I looked at her and said that language is not appropriate and she should not use it. She then gets angry and tells me to, “Go fuck yourself.” Now, I was tolerant of the cussing, but when you direct it at me that is a whole new ballgame. I immediately backed up and asked her if she just said that to me, she said it again and louder. Then she walks away using that term many times and continues to cuss me out and say how useless I am as a coach. One of the things that I have always known is that if your parents do not show respect to another human being than you will never show respect to that human being. I knew at that moment that that player was damaged beyond me being able to repair him.
Being me I am aware that being warm and fuzzy all the time is not one of my character traits, but I am respectful and do not act like that to any person. That was uncalled for on so many different levels. My question is why people think they have that that right? Also, if you treat a coach of your child that way for being concerned about your child’s grades as well as his athletic ability do you really think that coach is going to want that child on his or her team? It is apparent what kind of household they are being raised in and no amount of coaching or influence is going to change the kid’s attitude or beliefs. This just made me realize that I may be crazy, but I am not that crazy yet. Coaching has always been something that I have enjoyed and now that I have kids I do not mind coaching, but I want to see my family. There is no job that is worth that kind of abuse from parents. It scares me the most that the next couple of generations do not want to be punished for doing wrong or not meeting an expectation. As I stand on my front lawn and wave my fist in the air at the younger generation and yell, “Back in my day…”