Letter to the Editor

Reflecting on the behaviors of coaches

Monday, February 18, 2008

To the Editor:

Sportsmanship, respect, teamwork, play hard, and play fair.

"It's not whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game."

Those are usually the first things you learn in any sport.

That message should also crossover to the coaches as well.

Their first job as coach should be to make sure every player on their team is better at the end of the season than they were at the beginning. My guess is that those qualities are not expected of the coaches for the North Clay sixth-grade girls' basketball team.

The team is horribly mismanaged. From practice to game time, there are politics being played.

These kids are 11-12-year-olds! They should not be subjected to those sort of things at such a young age.

It should still be about the fun of the game and everyone should get a fair shake. I understand that some players are naturally better than others and some players are going to work harder than others. Those sort of things should be rewarded.

However, the skills that make a good basketball player great and an average player good are learned in practice and displayed in the games. Why are all the girls on this team not afforded those opportunities? While the "B" coach's daughter and the "A" team are dominating the court time in both practice and games, there is a group of girls who never get the chance to show that they can compete at the same level.

Without trying to offend any of the girls on the team or their parents, the girls on both teams are not that far apart in skill level.

Is it fair to those girls who go to practice every day and work hard to maintain their academics for them to have to sit on the bench while the same girls play in both the "A" and "B" games? What exactly is the point of having two teams and two games if all the same players play in both games? The coaches don't get paid so why are they more focused on winning rather than teaching these children the finer points of the game? If these girls truly are not skilled enough to get the opportunity to play in the games, then why were they picked to be on the team?

Before anyone jumps on me, yes, my stepdaughter is on the team and she is one of the four or five girls who are not given a chance to play more than "scrub" time at the end of games. Admittedly, she is not one of the best on the team, but she has only had one year of experience to go off of. She shouldn't be playing the whole game either, but when the rules state that each player is allowed four quarters of playing time a night, why are some playing six and others less than one minute? I didn't pay over $100 at the beginning of the season and $7 each game to watch my daughter and apparently "select" others sit the bench in favor of players who are not much better.

When I approached the athletic director about this, I was virtually blown off and told that it "isn't my responsibility to run the practices."

While this is true, it is the responsibility of the athletic director to direct the athletic programs, is it not? Shouldn't he know what is happening on the sports team he is paid to direct?

It sickens me as a former player and a coach myself that children are being exposed to this sort of poor coaching and politics. This is what will turn young impressionable players into the trash talking, ball hogging, disrespectful players that make the NBA hard to watch and enjoy. I write this as a concerned parent and am not a jealous, vengeful father. I am not as upset about the lack of playing time as I am the lack of opportunities that are given to some but not all of the girls on this "team." I welcome any type of response from the coaches, but I assume I will not get one.

Michael Nichols,