I have been involved with high school athletics for more than 30 years, and one of the most valuable lessons I have learned is this: It is imperative that we — parents, coaches, administrators, students and community members — all understand what these sports and activities are designed to accomplish. Without that basic understanding and mutual agreement, something that should be a powerful and exciting life experience can quickly deteriorate into something very negative.
Although these activities are an integral part of our education system, the value lies in the fact that they are a privilege to be earned. They are not a right; they are not an entitlement.
Following is a list of what you should expect on this journey called high school sports and activities:
- To have a coach who is student-centered, has the best interest of all student-athletes in mind, and sets high standards. A coach must stretch kids to be more than they ever thought they could be.
- Coaches must be a positive role models in kids' lives – not to tell students how they should act or live, but to show them by personally modeling how to live an exceptional life.
- Coaches need to be a caring and concerned influence in kids' lives. They must make sure that every win, every loss, every personal victory or defeat comes with a lesson to be learned that will help prepare their students for life after sports and school.
- Sports need to develop our student-athletes to enable them to be productive, compassionate leaders in their communities. Coaches should develop a sense of perspective and compassion that will allow for athletes to be gracious in victory and dignified in defeat.
- Athletes are measured by the quality of their work ethic. They are judged on their willingness to lay it all on the line for their school, community, and family. They need to be respected and praised for trying to attain more than they believe they are capable of.
- Students need to be taught to be an integral part of a team, for putting their ego and personal goals aside in favor of teamwork and attaining group.
- Coaches must put ego aside and realize that in order to develop the best team they can. They need to let their athletes know they care about them as an athlete, but more so as a person.
- The primary goal of any good coach is to be a teacher and a mentor every bit as much as a coach of the sport.
- Players should not be criticized for the results on the scoreboard, or judged by the amount of minutes played.
Yes, these expectations apply to those of us in the stands supporting them. They apply to the officials, administrators, the parents, and teammates. These expectations need to reflect our community and school values.
We may need a reminder every so often, but we can never forget that this journey is not about the individual. It's about the team. It's about the school, the community. It's about being that role model that the young kids in the stands can look up and aspire to. High school sports value in the lessons learned through the journey not the end results.
Every time our students step on the field, they need to be encouraged to look past the scoreboard, to breathe in the atmosphere, and acknowledge there is so much more being learned than what meets the eye.