The coaches of Little Dude’s flag football team warned us that we’d be facing a tough team this past week. We just figured that meant they had good (and big) players, ran smart plays, and knew how to make touchdowns. Well, we were right about all those things, but what we didn’t assume was that our team would also be facing a tough opposing coach. At first we all thought he was just overly enthusiastic and had a very loud voice.
But, it soon became evident that this coach had a screw loose, I think. A coach that screamed so loud that the rest of us on the sidelines were staring at him with our mouths agape. A coach that yelled the following directives to his team:
“Run them over!”
Now you might be thinking, “oh that’s not so bad. I mean, after all, it is football.” And, maybe you’d be right if these kids were middle or high schoolers. But, these kids were nowhere near that age. They were seven and eight – 2nd and 3rd graders! These kids are still learning the game of football, learning how to run plays, learning how to think on their feet. The last thing they need is the distraction of a crazy-ass parent coach telling them to run the other team over.
I must say, I was proud of the boys on our team, who remained focused and tried their hardest to the end, despite the lunatic on the edge of the field, maniacally waving his arms and shrieking after every play. “It’s like psychological warfare,” I complained to my husband. “I feel like his antics are psyching out our team.” My husband wisely did not egg me on because he knows that if he did, I’d be yelling obscenities at the opposing coach by the end of the game.
I was also proud of our parent coaches, who calmly but energetically kept our kids engaged and enjoying the sport like they do at every game and practice. Even when we clearly had no hope of winning (and I won’t go into the shady tactics by the other team), our boys kept at it.
At the end of the game, Little Dude came running across the field to us as he always does, with a wide smile showing off his mouth-guard between his teeth. We high-fived him as we always do, and told him he made some great passes as the QB. It was their first team loss of the season, but you’d never know it by the joy on his face. He loves the game and his coaches are fostering that positive attitude for him and every boy on the team.
I suddenly felt sorry for the boys on the other team. Although some of them seemed to be responding to looney-coach, I’m sure that several of the other boys – perhaps the less-skilled players, and maybe even the coach’s own son – will not make it past this year. I can bet those boys will quit football because they are fearful that they can’t live up to the coach’s expectations of crushing the other team every time. They’ll be so concerned about winning that they will lose their inspiration – and love — for the game. I wish there was a way to weed out these psycho-coaches, but they are parents in the community who volunteer and for that, we are supposed to be grateful. However, I am not feeling grateful right now. I am feeling sad and scared for a bunch of little boys who still have six more games to play this season. If they’re lucky, maybe their coach will come down with a bad case of laryngitis.