These are the words assistant Outlaws' coach Tony Coley barked at 8-year-old Tamari Hayes in last night's fifth episode of "Friday Night Tykes." Ordered to run a lap (as punishment for a mistake or rule violation so trivial that I somehow missed it), Tamari walked around the practice field instead. "I asked you to run the lap and you walked it. Everybody has rules. You have to follow them or face the consequences," Coley scolded.
How ironic that Coley was lecturing Hayes for violating a rule when, as FNT has shown us, time and again, is the Texas Youth Football Association is the Wild, Wild West of youth football, a league where there are very few rules, at least when it comes to the conduct of coaches, who continue to scream profanity at their players (to the point that one has already been suspended for the spring football season), engage in what many, including me, view as out-and-out child abuse, and put the safety of athletes at risk in countless ways, not just in terms of head injuries, but heat illness, and emotional and psychological safety as well.
Granted, last night's episode didn't hit a new low, thankfully (although I'm holding my breath, worried about what we might see as the teams ratchet things up as they head towards the playoffs). In fact, as I will get to in a moment, it actually had some positive moments.
But parents need to remember that even something as seemingly innocuous as the coach playfully giving a player a wedgie could be considered by some, including me, as inappropriate. Abuse, as I have been saying for many years, takes many forms.
Now for the "teachable moments":
Related MomsTEAM content:
FNT: Age-Appropriate Coaching
When the coach of the Judson Junior Rockets decided to simplify his team's offense because it "was too complicated for the kids to understand," he was probably motivated more by a desire to win than by anything else, but it was a reminder about how a good coach understands the need to set age-appropriate expectations. In other words, expecting 8- and 9-year-olds to run a West Coast offense worthy of Bill Walsh's great 49'er teams of the 80's was, well, unrealistic.
Related MomsTEAM content:
Setting Realistic Expectations Depends on Age of Youth Athlete
Ten Signs of A Good Youth Sports Coach
Twelve Signs of A Good Youth Sports Program
Good Youth Sports Coaches Get Training, Emphasize Safety
Youth Sports Coaches Need to Set Realistic, Age-Appropriate Expectations
Bullying continues to be a huge problem, so it was nice to see Eric Nolden, an assistant coach with the Outlaws, talking to kids he was mentoring in a basketball program about how to deal with bullies.
Missed the earlier blogs in this series? Here are the links:
Brooke de Lench is Executive Director of MomsTEAM Institute, Founder and Publisher of MomsTEAM.com, author of Home Team Advantage: The Critical Role of Mothers In Youth Sports (HarperCollins), and Producer/Director of the PBS concussion documentary, "The Smartest Team: Making High School Football Safer." You can email me at delench@MomsTeam.com and follow me on Twitter @brookedelench.
Photo credit: Walter Iooss - Esquire Network