What’s Wrong With High School Sports?
There was just a video clip which went viral about a high school basketball game where a slew of ridiculous fouls were carried out by the same player and all were way beyond the scope of accidental. The article went on to ask the question of why the refs didn’t kick the player out (which was definitely valid not only because of flagrant fouls committed but more so for his self-satisfaction after each hit (and they we’re hits or clothlines). The ref’s inability to stand up for the game of basketball itself makes him culpable but still the least guilty of the culprits. Let’s dig a little deeper into what’s going on here and more importantly, what’s wrong with high school sports and what we can do about it?
Where were the coaches in the above situation? First, the coach of the player in question. Why didn’t he pull the player after flagrant foul #2, or 3, or 4. Clearly, something was going on with the high school boy beyond just the game. Maybe he had some serious issues at home and he decided to take it out on the opposing player who’s driving to the hoop. That’s no excuse but as the coach, you would hope he would help this player deal with his situation in a better way. Maybe the coach is part of the problem (more than maybe). In fact, it’s hard to see how a high school sports athlete on the floor would play dirty or commit flagrant fouls if there wasn’t some complicity with the coach. I hate to reference Kobra Kai with that dojo’s demand to “sweep the leg” in Karate Kid but hey…if the idiot coach fits, wear it. The are great high school coaches and there horrible high school coaches. Any athlete can recount a little of both in their careers. There’s also a lot or grey area in the coaching profession
You don’t need a coach to demand you play dirty. What about the coaches that take their job way to serious and just suck all the fun out of the sport. When your between 14 and 18 years old, you always feel like you have a voice especially if speaking out might mean you won’t get to play your favorite sport at the high school level (regardless of your talent and ability). That’s starting to change. It may be anecdotal but I keep hearing of kids say forget it and ending the high school sport careers because of a jerk (they go a little harsher) coach. In most cases, it’s warranted. The coaches have been watching too much college footage of hostile, Type A coaches that scream, berate, and otherwise, are abusive. This is high school and high school sports should still be fun. There are way too many adults who expect high school kids (and they are kids) to be able to do what they can do. Really good players don’t always make for really good coaches or refs for this very reason. They expect that the kids can do what they’re able to to (after years more experience). They’re also part of the problem but let’s not forget the parents.
Parents lose their minds when it comes to high school sports. As a parent myself, it’s easy to see how that goes. I’m generally pretty pragmatic but watching your kids in a sports situation bring out the primal reaction that often leads to no good. Look, probably no one you know will go pro. Maybe 1 or 2 (if your lucky) will play in college it’s probably a junior college. Those are the odds. There’s religious dedication to the development of high school sports talent that isn’t justified by the potential outcome. In the meantime, your kids focus and effort all terminates the day he graduates high school or more pointedly, the last game he plays of his high school sports career. You’re setting him or her up for a huge letdown. Parents don’t mean to do this but it is indeed, part of the problem. Let’s make the high school game fun again. A part of a process of growing up and becoming young adults with a sense of teamwork and a nod to how effort and persistence can result in achievement. Most importantly, let’s make it source of joy for high school kids.