Time To Pay The Players

With the NHL playoffs upon us (and the Maple Leafs hopefully being in them), I’ve been playing NHL ’17 on Xbox One to deal with the fever.  As a gamer and sports fan, the greatest addition to games is the “Be A Player” mode where I created myself as a young center in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

My virtual self suits up for the Sherbrooke Phoenix, because my favorite hockey player of all-time, Jocelyn Thibault is the General Manager.

Anyway, as the season progresses your general game play is “graded” based upon certain categories and of course your skills develop based upon the grade.  The end goal being that you get a call that you’ve been drafted into the big show to play for the grand prize – the Stanley Cup.

Along the way you are given the chance to fight if you are challenged (or you will be pushed into fighting if you deliver a brutal hit on a defenseless opponent), the opportunity for more ice time if you are passing and scoring well, a disappointing paragraph on a menu from the coach if you don’t defend and other chances to make an impact.

Midway through your draft-able season, you may get the call to the CHL top prospects game as my player did.  I was assigned to the white team and I drew the top line against the red team.  Somewhere during the first period after a stoppage in play, I began to look at the “Be A Player” mode differently.

One of my linemates must have disliked someone on the other team and a fight broke out.  Hey – old hockey joke huh?  All I could think about was 17 year olds fighting in front of NHL scouts to show that they should be drafted.  I have never been or seen the real CHL top prospects game but I know that as a teenager you want to be in the NHL and you’ll do whatever it takes to get there.

But these aren’t just any teenagers.  These kids are being paid a stipend and they cannot accept a scholarship to an American school because of it.  Think about that for a moment.  This is a double edged blade.

It’s wonderful that they are getting paid for bringing in revenue for their club but at the same time it comes with a consequence.  They must now realize they can’t go to the States and play college hockey.  Most realize their options are better in the CHL, however should that not pan out, there has to be some consideration for the future too.

This past week I saw former Houston Texans running back Arian Foster talk about the NCAA and how he can’t even watch college football anymore.  The NCAA system is broken.  In March, billions in revenue are generated for the NCAA by advertisers in what is known as “March Madness.”  The basketball players for the schools do not see any of that money but some of the coaches at these schools are paid millions to do one thing: teach x’s and o’s.

Then there is college football.  The college bowl system is the same way and some coaches are the highest paid state employees.  They also get athletic gear contracts and some coaches even have radio shows.  Meanwhile, athletes on scholarship can’t participate in work study or accept the same things that normal students could.

In fact, Foster has spoken in the past about asking his former coach at the University of Tennessee Phillip Fulmer to bring him something to eat because the dining hall was closed and he had no money.  This was against the NCAA rules but Foster came from a family that was poor – if it wasn’t for the scholarship he wouldn’t have had the funds to go to college.

We hear the stories of athletes going from college or high school to the NFL or the NBA and blowing it all.  They end up being broke but why can’t they get a stipend in college to help them understand how to manage it?  Getting that money in the CHL helps the young players know that when it is gone, it is gone and no one is going to give you anything.

The NCAA is no longer an amateur league and it’s not going to go back to being one.  With advertisers involved and athletic companies sponsoring everything there’s no way to believe that money doesn’t run college sports.  It’s long past time to let the kids who help print the cash for the “amateur” system get their piece of the pie – or else we need to take the money out of the system.

Why Is Joe Mixon Any Different Than Ray Rice?

I’m not sure why these things continue to go on every day in the sports world but star athletes are getting away with as much as possible.

Case in point, University of Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon.  Mr. Mixon has been suspended for the game against Iowa State on November 3, 2016 because he ripped up his parking ticket in front of the public safety officer who had written it.

There are a multitude of problems around Mixon that extend from 2016 back to 2014.

Mixon’s attorney, Blake Johnson, is quoted in the The Oklahoman as saying “He tore the ticket up in front of the parking attendant, and threw it on the ground.”

Not only did he either park illegally but he littered by dropping pieces of the ticket on the ground.  Plus there is a witness to both offenses.

Mr. Johnson goes on to say, “We are very confident that Joe did nothing criminal.”

Well let’s back up a moment here partner.

In 2014, Mixon was suspended for punching a fellow student and breaking multiple bones in their face.  Mixon knocked Amelia Molitor off her feet with one punch shattering her jaw, cheek, sinus and orbital bone.  That’s right, the fellow student is female.

The incident was caught on a restaurant surveillance tape where the two had been with friends.  Mixon had been celebrating his 18th birthday when words were exchanged escalating into Molitor pushing Mixon away.  Mixon lunged at Molitor and she slaped his neck leading to the punch.

As soon as he landed it, her head hit the table she was sitting at and then she fell to the ground. Mixon made for the exit leaving Molitor struggling to come to.  Mixon is not seen on camera again and after a while she is able to sit up in a chair.

On top of all of this, the President, athletic director and football coach of the University all saw this footage in the District Attorney’s office just three weeks after the event occured. Their solution was to suspend the player from the team for the season rather than outright dismissal.

The DA decides that Mixon should be charged with acts resulting in gross injury, a misdemeanor.  A misdemeanor?

Mixon entered an Alford plea to the charge which meant he had to serve 100 hours of community service, a one-year deffered sentence, a year of probation and some counseling.

Mmkay.

Even though he was suspended he still attended team functions – hell that seems right.  I imagine she was doing every day normal activities with all those broken bones.

But what is interesting about the whole thing is that there was an Oklahoma law that prohibited reporters from obtaining copies of the video to broadcast on TV or post online. Mixon took the deal just days before a new law was set to come in affect changing this which would have meant his video would have gone mainsteam.

In fact, after the plea was reached with the defendant and the prosecutor the tape went back to the restaurant where the tape was destroyed.  No one but those who were there will ever see the violent act that Mixon committed.

My question is, what would he have had to do to get kicked out all together?  Kill her?

If you draw the comparisson to another football player’s domestic violence incident caught on camera (Ray Rice) – what is the difference?

My guess is that Rice brought so much toxic attention to the NFL that no team wanted to go near him and he could be replaced by many other running backs similar to him.  His video was on every website and television station.  You couldn’t go anywhere without seeing or hearing his name.

Mixon on the other hand is younger, a five-star recruit, Oklahoma kept this video contained and could keep him away for a year to minimize the damage to their program.

All that being said – domestic violence is domestic violence.  What Mixon did is no different than what Ray Rice did and neither individual should be on the field.  Mixon ripped up a parking ticket in a fit of rage so what will stop him from showing that anger in the future?  What will stop him from hurting someone when he does?  The fear of another misdemeanor?

 

 

 

The Day The Rex Ship Ran Aground

*Thanks to the New York Daily News for the image and for making it.

This whole Rex Ryan thing is completely out of hand.

I’m convinced that the Buffalo Bills have lost control.  They don’t even know what to do with him anymore.

Stay with me, I know, you’re rolling your eyes – it’s starting to get old. Rex Ryan is my go to whipping boy for days when I want someone to beat up on.  But this time my Buffalo Bills fan club card is truly at the bottom of the sea with Sebastian and Ariel.

Rex has decided that he is going to “introduce” Donald Trump at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo when the Presidential Candidate stumps for Republican voters in his visit to the Bills home city.  I’m not wading into the politics on this one, that’s not my point here.  I have different bones to pick.

I wanted to look at what Rex and the Bills have to say about it because this is after all the same Trump that tried to buy the Bills after Ralph Wilson’s death.  Thankfully Terry Pegula was able to buy the team and keep it from Trump – and Jon Bon Jovi who wanted to move it to Toronto for the sake of making money.  If I ever make a billion dollars I have ideas for you Jon!

But I digress and I move on to Rex.

“I’m not going to say who my endorsement is and all that stuff,” Rex is quoted as saying according to Syracuse.com. “I’ll say this, Chris Christie was my guy 100-percent because we were the lap-banded brothers. We both had that lap band and we really are pretty close.”

Great, so you aren’t endorsing him so to speak but by going out on stage you are playing your hand anyway.  That’s like me saying that I’m wearing this Bills stuff but I’m not going to tell you what team I cheer for.  Just because I’m wearing Bills stuff doesn’t mean I want anything to do with the Bills.  Well, that’s back when I was wearing the Bills stuff anyway.  Stay with me.

The Bills are all cool with it.  Not cool with me.  I don’t know what they think of me.  I know when I was in Buffalo and tried to get a tour of the Ralph they didn’t have one.  Who doesn’t have a stadium tour these days?  Lame!

“It is a personal decision by Rex to introduce Donald Trump at this evening’s rally,” the Bills explained in a statement released by Mike Rodak of ESPN.com. “The Bills organization does not endorse political candidates and so he is not representing the organization at tonight’s event.”

Who releases a statement like that?  I mean, sure they are going to distance themselves from the coach.  Okay I get that.  But they can’t come out and release a broad public statement?  There’s nothing on their website about it.  Do they not think that everything this man does gets traction?  “Nah, this won’t go anywhere we’ll just release it through a reporter.”  Come on, put it on your website.

I believe if I’m not mistaken this is the same Bills organization that Trump said he would buy in 2014 and make money on.  He wished current Bills owner Terry Pegula better luck with the Bills than with Sabres.

Meanwhile their head coach and “face” of the franchise is introducing the guy who talked trash and bad mouthed the current owner of the club.  But that’s okay?  Not in my book.  Not if I owned the club.  I’d be snipping that one down in a heartbeat.

Also in the same day, word came out that Rex admitted to is stealing slogans from college coaches.  Rex borrowed “All in” from Clemson’s Dabo Swinney as a means to promote unity among the players.  Can’t a guy come up with ideas on his own?

These two things on one day?  Isn’t that enough to get someone fired?

I know the Bills don’t want to get rid of him.  Why would they?  If they wanted to they would have gotten rid of him after he promised the playoffs and didn’t deliver.  Besides every Bills fan who could read the writing on the wall knew they weren’t going to make the playoffs.  Anyone who could see the team for who they were only knew he was going to make it worse.  Look at the Jets trajectory since he left, guess where it is headed?  Straight up.

Rex is the loud mouth that gets the Bills all this free publicity and he keeps the team in first segments of ESPN because there’s always a dumb comment that sportscasters make fun of.  Who cares if the team ever wins, when was the last time the guy won a Super Bowl? When was the last time he overcame his New England demons?

Now he’s just shoving all his insubordination in the boss’ face and calling it a “personal decision.”

A personal decision is choosing to wear a different tie to work.  A personal decision is choosing to wear a different color vest on Sundays.  A personal decision is choosing to donate your pay check to Relay for Life.  This is far from a personal decision.

This is another squirt of gasoline on what has become a massive dumpster fire burning out of control burning by Lake Ontario.  Until they get their “Rex Problem” under control the Bills can go ahead and take my fan card. Leadership, respect and the ability to teach humanity starts at the top and the Bills are showing that they are just letting Rex walk all over them. Tyrod or no Tyrod, it’s over for me.

 

Who’s Johnny, The Next 30 For 30?

I’m going to go ahead and comment on it, even though I feel like I’m wading into a hurricane with a kiddie raft.  I have been watching the drama unfold in Cleveland, Las Vegas, Texas and who knows where else for far too long to keep my mouth shut any longer: someone has to stop the Johnny Manziel downward spiral.

So let’s run this down with some highlights, er lowlights, and see what I’m talking about.

May 8th 2014 – Manziel is drafted by the Browns as the 22nd pick of NFL Draft.  Browns owner Jimmy Haslam said that a homeless guy convinced him to draft Manziel on the way to the draft.  Seems legit.

May 24 2014 – Johnny goes to Vegas instead of focusing on football.  This comes just after questions of his work ethic and character were brought up in the draft process.

June 6, 2014 – Manziel is pictured floating around in a pool on a giant swan focusing on a bottle rather than a football.  Apparently there is a playbook stuck to the bottom of the pool.

July 4, 2014 – Manziel is in Vegas where he was caught on camera with something that looks a lot like drugs.  I do not believe he was working on football here either.

August 18, 2014 – Manziel gives the Redskins the bird in a nationally televised event.  Stay classy.

November 22, 2014 – Manziel gets into a fight in a hotel in Cleveland with a fan and members of his entourage.  It almost feels like it had been too long since he did something, didn’t it?

December 23, 2014 – Manziel gets hurt and says he has to change in order to be successful.  You think?

December 26, 2014 – Change is short.  He throws a party and is late for treatment on his hamstring, although he is quick to deny there is a party.

January 3, 2015 – Flips off some fans at a club in Houston who end up taking it differently than Manziel expected.  They drench him in their drinks.  Cheers!

January 28, 2015 – Manziel decides that this time it’s really about change and goes to rehab.

April 11, 2015 – Manziel comes out of rehab a changed man.

April 17, 2015 – Manziel issues an apology to Cleveland, the fans, his teammates, the world, the universe and whoever else wants to listen. Everyone believes in the change.

June 17, 2015 – “Money” Manziel is gone.  No more?  Say it ain’t so Johnny.  Maybe the change is real?

October 12, 2015 – Manziel and his girlfriend have an argument after drinking.  The police are called because Manziel was driving like an ass and acting like an ass so his girlfriend tried to exit the vehicle while he was still driving.  It’s now beginning to get dark.  Jokes are now done.

October 25, 2015 – The NFL finally decides to investigate Manziel for domestic abuse.  I mean it only happened almost two weeks ago!?!

November 23, 2015 – More partying and there is video evidence of Manziel drinking and singing.  Instead of focusing on himself and/or football during Cleveland’s bye week he spent it on the one thing that is causing him to spiral out of control.

January 1, 2016 – Manziel spotted in Las Vegas at a casino when he was supposed to be going the following day to Cleveland to the team’s training facility for league mandated concussion protocol.  It had been reported in various sources he showed signs of a hangover in practice earlier in the week.

January 30, 2016 – Manziel is alleged to have assaulted his ex-girlfriend, Colleen Crowley.  Crowley has filed an affidavit of protection from Manziel because he struck her so hard he ruptured her eardrum.

According to ESPN.com:

“The affidavit states that Manziel dragged Crowley down some back steps to the hotel exit. As they passed a valet, Crowley states she pleaded with a valet as the pair left, saying: “Please don’t let him take me. I’m scared for my life!” The valet responded that he didn’t know what to do.

Manziel took her to Crowley’s car, where she states she got in the car’s passenger seat “against my will.” As he was backing up, she jumped out, ran across the street and hid in some bushes.

Manziel made a U-turn to where she was, grabbed her by her hair and threw her in the car.

“He hit me with his open hand on my left ear for jumping out of the car,” the affidavit states. “I realized immediately that I could not hear out of that ear, and I cannot today [Feb. 3, the date of the filing].”

Crowley writes that the argument continued on the way to her apartment and in the apartment itself.

“I continue to be extremely concerned for my health and well-being,” she wrote.

The judge issued the protective order Feb. 4, the day after Crowley’s filing.”

The Cleveland Browns organization has been hiding Manziel’s real problems for years because of the promise of talent.  With the partying it seems concerning that he isn’t taking care of himself and has some issues that he may be covering up.  Now that he has struck someone else it scares me to think about what else he might do when he is drinking.

And don’t get me started about Deion Sanders and his insinuation that Manziel’s ex-girlfriend is the reason for all the problems.  Sure, blame the victim of a ruptured eardrum and domestic abuse.  Go ahead.  Let’s not solve the problem.  Why does anyone even ask someone who clearly has no clue?

If you’ve never read the story of Derek Boogaard Boy on Ice by John Branch, it’s time to pick it up.  Branch examine’s Boogaard’s rise through the hockey ranks all the way up to the NHL all while battling his addictions: first with booze and then with painkillers and opioids.  Boogaard never got the publicity or was never the figure that Manziel is however his addictions remind me of Manziel’s.  Boogaard went to rehab multiple times and each time he came out he said he was going to be better and he was going to change but the only way he was going to change was if he was allowed to change and his team(s) never did that.

The Browns never made Johnny change.  They covered for him and you can bet the NFL did whatever it could.  The Wild kept finding ways to get Boogaard what he needed.  The NHL would do whatever they could.  Meanwhile both Manziel and Boogaard struggled with their addiction because they were stuck in the same spiral that only was/is getting longer, deeper and darker.  Boogaard’s spiral ended in a tragedy and now that we see Manziel at this junction it scares me to think that he’s teetering on something that’s going to end in the same place.

The Browns are saying they don’t want him, his agent doesn’t want him, the NFL might be saying the same soon, his ex-girlfriend filed a protection order, his family is pushing back and who knows what other people are pushing back against him.  I can only imagine that Johnny is fragile and there must be a million things running through his head.  If he truly is spiraling, this is the time to get help, I just wonder if he will get it?  Or five/ten/fifteen years from now will we be watching this on ESPN as a 30 For 30?

A Super Dud

The NFL may have spent millions advertising the Super Bowl’s 50th year, I couldn’t help but feel like it was a letdown.  Like sitting down to breakfast and having to choose between Frosted Flakes or Wheaties, neither team appealed much to me.

On one side was the big story of Peyton “HGH you feel so good ” Manning and the Denver Broncos who had made their way through the AFC by dethroning the evil empire of the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game.  No one had expected Manning to hold up through the season much less to make it this far so it was no surprise when it was reported that Manning allegedly told Pats’ coach Bill Belichick this was his “last rodeo.”  

On the other side Cam Newton prepared to dance all over the Broncos after skewering the NFC and winning the NFL MVP award.  Newton made headlines this year for his superman dances and Dab celebrations all while leading the team to 1st place seed in the NFC.  His dancing was the talk of the media and he was forced to defend it nearly every time he was interviewed after a game.

Unlike years past I did not have a Hokie I was rooting for in the game so I felt no connection whatsoever to any team.  Maybe that’s why on multiple occasions I had to hold myself back from getting up.  That may be why I had to tell myself that something will happen to make it exciting.  That’s why I simply couldn’t feel like this game was the embodiment of 50 years of the Super Bowl.  If nothing else it reminded me of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory when Veruca wants a golden goose.  When she lands on the egg scale and it quickly displays that Veruca is indeed a bad egg, Super Bowl 50 would follow her down the chute to the incinerator.  

I think of all the great players who have come and gone and can only feel embarrassed for such a showing on a world stage.  A truly epic collapse for one team and large fight back for another.  Hopefully with all the money the NFL raked in from advertising and merchandising they can work on the game for next year.  If it keeps up this way it will just be a set of geese laying bad eggs and Wonka will have to keep pulling them out of the incenerator.

Boy I Love Losing Super bowls

Recently I saw an advertisement for ESPN’s 30 for 30 “Four Falls of Buffalo.”  30 for 30 films are the greatest sports documentaries I’ve ever seen.  They cover every sport, they draw you in and whether you think you care about the topic or not, you find yourself watching the whole thing. However, this one was about everything for me.  It was about a team that most outside of New York State could care less about (mostly the far Western side of the state) and a team that was labeled the “loveable losers” for the years they went to “back-to-back-to-back-to-back” Super Bowls.  I know Drake wrote “Back to Back” but let’s see him do “Back to Back to Back to Back!”

I’ve been a Bills fan for as long as I can remember.  Well, for as long as I’ve been a professional football fan.  Growing up in the South there was not a lot of love for the Atlanta Falcons at the time, they were horrible and my team was the University of Tennessee Volunteers.  The Big Orange.  Southeastern Tennessee was close to Knoxville and my neighbor was a huge Vol fan. For all I knew he probably was a booster but he bled Orange and decked me out in Orange and turned on the radio on Saturdays so I could hear all about the Volunteer Navy and Smokey.  Yes, I know the words to Rocky Top, I have been to Vols games and I’m not sure that color Orange is right for everyone.  But I digress.

I got into card collecting as I got older and we moved around the South.  I starting looking for baseball and basketball cards everywhere I could find them.  Gas stations used to carry them, grocery stores had them with the candy bars and I used to visit a sports card shop or two when I could.   My father, being a Hokie, wasn’t too thrilled about my Volunteer Orange hanging in the closet.  So when he had the chance he took me to Blacksburg and started introducing me to Virginia Tech football.

Picking through a box of cards I found a stack of football cards, which I had never been collecting before, but my dad had been.  I didn’t know any of the players but I stumbled upon some guy who was a rookie and when I flipped it over it said he was from Norfolk and he went to Virginia Tech. So I started asking my dad about him.  After that, I made my mind up that I was going to be a Bills fan.

I’ve been a Bills fan through the greatest team ever era; that included my heroes: Bruce Smith, Andre Reed and Darryl Talley just to name a few. We navigating around Todd Collins long enough to realize that we miss Jim Kelly. Past the forgettable Rob Johnson vs. Doug Flutie debate that Wade Phillips had. Flutie clearly was the better starter from where I sat. Oh and here’s where it all starts to get murky. Are you ready? Alex Van Pelt, J.P. Losman, Drew Bledsoe, Kelly Holcomb, Trent Edwards, Ryan Fitzpatrick, E.J. Manuel, Jeff Tuel, Thad Lewis, Kyle Orton, Matt Cassel and finally current starter Tyrod Taylor.  The Tyrod Taylor that I was thrilled to find they signed, only because I was ready to give up after the signing of Rex Ryan.

Yes I said give up.

“But you can’t be a true fan,” some might say.

Or “give up just because of the coach?”

Buffalo could have signed anyone and truly, I mean ANYONE.  I don’t mean to scream, but maybe I do.   I saw how the Jets were under his leadership and I wasn’t impressed.  For a team that was supposed to have a great defensive mind, the Bills never seemed to have too much trouble getting past them last year.  I didn’t want him to come in and wreck what was a great Bills ‘D.’

But it’s been wrecked.  Jim Schwartz was let go from his defensive coordinator spot and Ryan has put himself in place as head of the defense. Thru 13 games this year the defensive stats aren’t pretty.  358.8 average ypg (20), 3,300 total yards given up (20), 253.8 passing ypg (22), 104.9 rushing ypg (14). Last year’s defense ranked 4th in total ypg, 3rd in total passing yards given up and 11th in rushing yards given up. 124 penalties were amassed over a full season, through 13 games there have been 109 this season. If I were a betting man I’d say that stat will go up, way up.

The defense that was lean and mean is now sloppy and punch drunk.  They are boisterous and complain about penalties, like Rex Ryan did after the Eagles game just recently when he followed the officials off the field running his mouth all the way.  He ran his mouth to the New York media week in and week out last year becoming one of the favorite mouthpieces to get a quote.  This year he’s wanted nothing more than provide quotes about Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots wanting to give the newspapers enough words to fill half a page only to lose both games.  I can’t believe he hasn’t learned his lesson by now and I can’t believe Doug Whaley hasn’t reined him in by now.  It feels to me his hiring was for publicity to sell some tickets or to move some shirts.  I hope management is happy.  They went from a potential playoff team to a “not gonna make the playoffs” team.

Funny, I could stick by a team that busted its ass and tried it’s hardest to win a game with a coach that was clueless but at least he wasn’t out there blaming the refs every week and burying his head in the sand.  Chan Gailey wasn’t the best coach the Bills ever had but I would gladly have him back, at least he didn’t run his mouth about the Patriots before the Bills played them.  Even for all his faults Doug Marrone did a better job of giving me a warm and fuzzy feeling.  Alright, no.  Let’s say he gave me a lukewarm feeling.  But damn, at least I didn’t feel like secretly he wanted to coach for Bill Belichick like Rex.  Anymore I think it’s Rex’s secret desire to coach for Belichick that’s why he talks about him so much.  As Drake says “Jealousy is just love and hate at the same time.”

I haven’t fully given up on the Bills.  I threatened to go out in the yard and burn everything Buffalo I owned.  I was mad and out of control.  I’ve come this far, I’ve gone through all those years with all those years of missed playoffs and terrible play.  I wasn’t expecting the team to compete for a Super Bowl.  I wasn’t expecting anything major.  Of course, outside of Buffalo no one really knows much about the team anyway.

 

To Coach Or Not To Coach

Coaching youth soccer is one of those interesting contradictions. You can go back and forth so many times in a week. One second you absolutely love it because the kids are so great and then you are so crazed because the kids just won’t listen to what you have to say.
It can be such an incredible experience to be a coach though, especially when you watch the kids as they grow up and you see them start to “get it.” The maturation from playing as 6 year olds all the way up to almost teenagers. You watch that thought process as they start to grasp the offside trap. There are adults that can’t grasp the offside trap, so when you see the kids get it, it’s quite an accomplishment.
It’s funny though, sometimes I sit back and I think about all the years I’ve put into the game. All those fall days after work that I travelled over to the practice field with that bag of balls and the cleats to give the best instruction that I could to hopefully help them progress as best as they could. The missing NFL games on Sundays to help give them the best instructions I could while being there for them so they could have fun on the soccer field.
I always had the support of the parents. They were always there to be supportive of the kids and make the best experience for the kids as they could. Whenever I had a problem they would be right there in my corner to back me up and let me discipline as a coach. You hear the horror stories that sometimes the parents could be all over the place and treat their kids badly. But I never experienced that. They just wanted their kids to have fun.
Amazingly the problem ended up being the people who ran the thing. You know, cause someone always had a problem with something that you did. If you try to protect your kids when they are the goalkeeper, someone has a problem that you make a stink about it. If a kid breaks a finger, a hand or a face, the head of the league isn’t going to dip into their pocket to pay for the co-pay at the ER or the doctor and specialist visits. They aren’t going to pay for the sick days and the gas fill ups and all that.
But I know, the kids are supposed to be prepared for the level of goalkeeper, sure I get that. However, there also needs to be someone to look out for the kids, because well they are just kids after all. Kids are going to do kid things and they are going to swing wildly and miss the ball, they’ll chase a ball and step down on fingers they will kick out and they’ll get frustrated that they can’t score a goal and act out. That’s what we need the referee for. If the referee isn’t there to protect the child in the goal, then my job as a coach is to protect that goalie. In fact my job is to protect all those kids, even to protect them from themself. If someone is acting wildly, they need to come off the field and shake it off, just shake it off.
If we are going to make excuses that the referees have limited training because it is a volunteer organization and people don’t have the time to train then we need to use the people who do have training. We should not put people who don’t have referee training in the position to fail. That’s asking for trouble and that’s poor leadership. It’s an immense responsibility to be a referee and not only do you have to know the rules but at this age you are tasked with the job of taking care of children’s safety. You look for dangerous play and you look to make sure that you keep the pace of the game going but do so in a controlled manner. A pre-teen game is not the place to start for an inexperienced referee, it’s better to start them either as a linesman or at a young kids’ game.
All this seems to be so elementary and that’s what can be so frustrating about the leadership of leagues. Why is it so difficult to understand that coaches want what is best for their kids? How is it hard to understand that coaches also wear many different hats? Leaders of leagues may not see that coaches can also be parents, referees, goal assemblers, field coordinators and leaders in safety just to name a few. Coaches are huge volunteers. To assume that just because you are a coach means that you don’t know what a volunteer is, is a huge slap in the face especially when you’ve done that job and many other jobs for the league for over five years. It’s unfortunate that volunteerism gets called into question when a coach looks out for kids but sometimes it feels like sometimes people have to find something to question. We’re not all perfect but coaches do what they can to make the experience as perfect as they can for the kids.