By Ken Reed
Where else in society do we allow more screaming, belittling, demeaning and abusive “leaders” than in the field of sports coaching?
“I can’t think of another place in society where we so willingly give people dispensation from what is socially and morally acceptable,” writes Timothy R. Clark, an Oxford-educated former college football player at BYU, in an op-ed for the Deseret News.
The reason Clark can’t think of another place is because there isn’t one. It’s a bizarre socio-cultural situation in our country. It’s even harder to fathom when you realize that in a lot of cases — across multiple sports — we willingly let these crazed yellers coach our little leaguers, kids seven-to-12 years old.
Coaches are supposed to be teachers but if our classroom teachers acted like a significant percentage of our youth sports coaches they’d be banned from ever setting foot in a classroom again.
“We often give our coaches — at least this has been the historical pattern — permission to mislead,” writes Clark.
“We’re so used to the traditional ‘tell-yell’ model of coaching in America that it often doesn’t register with us when a coach is behaving badly…. More than we’d like to admit, we witness coaching behavior that would qualify as bullying behavior.”
Ain’t that the truth …
I call it the Lombardi Effect (see Humanistic Coaches). In the 1960’s, Vince Lombardi won several NFL and Super Bowl championships by being a bullying ogre for the Green Bay Packers. He was known for treating all his players the same way — like dogs. But he won and won big. He was glorified by the media and his style became the acceptable gold standard of coaching.
“When our “screamer” and “head gamer” coaches notch victories, when they win championships, we not only turn a blind eye, we lionize them,” writes Clark. “We build them shrines and give them treasure.”
That was wrong back in the ’60’s when Lombardi stalked the sidelines in Green Bay and it’s worse when it happens today — especially in youth sports.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #14 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Making Sense of the Injury Pandemic in Major League Baseball – The guest is Gary McCoy, a strength, conditioning and high performance coach who has worked with several Major League Baseball organizations. Our focus is the injury pandemic in baseball, what’s causing it and how it can be fixed.
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Episode #13 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Conversation With Long-Time MLB Exec Dan Evans About What’s Right With Baseball and What Could Be Better – Evans is a former general manager for the Los Angeles Dodgers and is currently a consultant for Go the Distance Baseball, which owns the Field of Dreams movie site.
Episode #12 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Fun Chat With Dan Gutman, Author of the Baseball Card Adventure Series for Kids
Episode #11 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Latest on Brain Trauma, Concussions and CTE with Dr. Chris Nowinski – Nowinski is CEO of the Concussion Legacy Foundation.
Episode #10 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: An Issues Discussion With Paul Dolan – Dolan is the Cleveland Indians Owner and CEO.
Episode #9 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports Issues With Ralph Nader – Nader is a consumer advocate and was named one of the “100 Most Influential Americans of the 20th Century” by Time magazine. He is the founder of League of Fans.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
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