Comments about ‘Amy Donaldson: Why do we tolerate abuse in coaching?’

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Published: Sunday, March 10 2013 6:05 p.m. MDT

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Small Town Utah
Rural, UT

With all the focus on bullying, why are coaches exempt? We've all been bullied and seen our kids bullied. The worst bullying that I've experienced or seen my kids experience have been by a coach. Coincidently, our win loss records proved that those methods were ineffiective. Too bad there are few Wilbur Braithwaites left in the coaching world.

Coach P
Provo, UT

First, I think in regards to high school coaches you will see far less abusive behavior than you would from paraprofessionals with certainly some exceptions.

Second, there is no reason to use the "F" word in any situation as a coach. Again, I won't claim perfection with profanity of a different kind but I think I never directed it at an athlete in jest and certainly not in anger. I think having discipline and tough-minded athletes and teams does not mean one has to be profane. Some coaches I truly admired were Don Holtry and Roger Dupaix. They had disciplined teams, won championships and both men refrained from profanity.

Third, conditioning is something we did to get better. It should never be used as punishment. When athletes buy into the fact that conditioning is met to get them in physical condition and build mental toughness to have the edge over their opponents, athletes will buy in. They will stop cutting corners etc. When they see it as a punishment with no real higher purpose, then running ladders or laps or whatever loses its effectiveness and athletes will cheat to get out of the work and resent coaches.

mr. loco
spanish fork, UT

I can honestly say that I don't agree with this article. I have lived here for 7 years now and I have never seen kids so protected by their parents. I admit there are some bad coaches out there, but lets not confuse abuse with tough love. I played football in Southern California, and I feel like I had one of the best football coaches in the area. He was not a saint, He liked to yell, cuss, and insult but never did I think he was abusive. I can honestly say that his philosophies helped me to be a better Father, Husband, and Citizen. High School sports is an extension of the classroom and teaches those things that kids can't learn in the class room. I'm sure that every soldier that fought in WW2 is grateful for a coach and pushed them to their limits. All this article did was fuel a fire that parents are building in the area. This is why there is so much coaching turnover in this state. Look at lone peak and other schools, where parents chased out a coach. Toughen Up!

Provo, UT

I remember watching Junction Boys, the story of Bear Bryant's first year year at Texas A & M. He was hard on his players like no other in any era. A lot of the players quit, one nearly died. A father, who was a World War II vet, asked him what he was doing. Bryant said "football is war." I loved what the father said back and it was something like this. "I've been in war, football isn't war." It even made the legendary Bryant take a pause about what he was demanding...

Santa Monica, CA

Why stop at sports? I also feel that in Marine Corps boot camp (where--lets face it, they are only about a year to a year and a half older than the kids we are talking about)--the Drill Instructors are way too mean and demeaning. Raise your voice if necessary, but raise it with praise and chocolate kisses if the recruit does well. Raise it with a hearty huzzah and popcicles, if they make their bunks correctly and with promises of orange slices and juice boxes if rifles are kept neat and tidy. Prison camps will be much easier to face if the field marine can say, "Staff Sergeant Hebrink tore me down to a quivering mass in the first few days, but then he built me up with 5 compliments for every negative remark. He was more than a boot camp instructor--he was a friend."---In all seriousness, I would be willing to bet that for every coach who "crosses the line" there are about 250 who are loud, passionate, tough and yes--sometimes in their players faces--and who do NOTHING but make kids better and stronger people.

Park City, UT

xert- Yes, but that ONE coach as you say, is the one this story is talking about. No doubt that the vast majority of coaches do good with the youth. However, it's that one guy or lady who crosses the line into verbal abuse that muddy the waters. This story isn't about parents who are over protective, it's about coaches who either physically or verbally abuse the student/youth that they are in charge of. If you use the power that comes with coaching as good, then you end up like the guys you talk about, however, if you use it incorrectly you risk damaging a young persons mind, or self image. That is what is intolerable. No doubt that youth today are softer than 20-30 years ago, and much of that comes from helicopter parents. That is why coaches are so important today in my opinion, that is why we can't tolerate the ones who aren't there for the right reasons, or aren't in good moral standing.

Coach P
Provo, UT

I think athletes being softer is a myth. I look at Lone Peak's basketball players and they play as hard as anyone past or present. They worked as hard at their games as anyone past or present, probably more and harder. They play the game as disciplined as they need to get the job done, past or present. But their coach follows the John Wooden model vs. the Bobby Knight model. Lewis doesn't physically or verbally abuse but challenges his players to give their best.

I think many players often want to know the "why" in what they are doing. Some call this being soft, I view it as part of the journey to truly learn the game.

I've coached a whole generation and was a decent athlete myself back in the day. I really don't see athletes being any "softer" now than in the days past. They will work as hard and have faith in their coaches as much now as back then if motivated properly. Parents are probably a different matter but back in the day you still had helicopter parents and parents who tried to use their riches to influence coaches decisions.

Park City, UT

Todays athletes are bigger, faster, stronger no doubt. Benefit of supplements and better access to proper training for sure. Here is a quote from Rick Wolff from Ask Coach Wolff-

However, I do think a case can made that perhaps kids today, in general, don’t cope as well with adversity as athletes of a generation ago. This theory was supported by a recent survey done of HS football coaches in Georgia by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Overwhelmingly, the coaches reported that kids are too often shielded by their hovering parents, and when it comes to adversity, kids today too often fall back on Mom and Dad when the coach starts to lean on the kids to work harder or practice harder.

Myth? I think not.

Lehi, UT

Being an out of stater, and person who had an abusive head coach I can see both sides. At the same time. I have played a lot of basketball in my life. I know that this state is very conservative and is soft in the sense that kids are sheltered from what reality is. I know for a fact that a lot has to do with the search for perfection in many ways. Coaches want perfection but in effort in most cases. But its all about wins and losses. Not value and principle. We have lost life lessons because we have to win to survive. The game is so wrong now. That's why coaches are getting fired. Parents take swearing and make it war against the coach. I'm not saying being abusive is OK, I'm saying that picking out a coaches imperfection is wrong and holds no value. We don't hold players imperfections against them, but we try to teach and reinforce them so they don't occur again. The game has changed and coaches need to adjust to it as well. Holding kids accountable is none existent. The entire state is suffering from this

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