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Kids must be taught how to win

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POSTED November 26, 2010 2:27 a.m.
It seems like a lifetime ago that I coached football and basketball at the Manteca Boys and Girls Club. In those days, we not only coached to win but we coached to respect the game and our opponent.

One example of that was when one team had a 10-point lead in basketball, that team could no longer press or fast break. Our rationale was if you are beating an opponent, there is no need to humiliate them as well.

Over the years I have seen that there are many coaches who do not subscribe to the theory of teaching how to win as well as how to lose. At the high school level some coaches are well known for running up scores, but one of the worse examples happened a number of years ago when an out-of-town school shellacked a local team 42-14.

This was the first game after the local team suffered a tremendous off-the-field emotional loss and was losing 28-0. With time running out in the first half, the out-of-town coach called a timeout so he could get seven more points on the board for a 35-0 halftime lead.

I asked that coach after the game what was so important in getting that fifth first-half halftime touchdown and his response was short and sweet: “That’s football.”

No, that’s not football – at least that’s my football. The local team was clearly missing a beat or two that night and I am not saying that coach should have rolled over, but he could have employed a little discretion.

It’s bad enough when high school take a page from the Atilla-the-Hun search-and-destroy manual, but when I see youth coaches borrowing from the same playbook it infuriates me. When I coached youth football, on the rare occasions where we did get an insurmountable lead our offensive plan was simple: keep it between the tackles, no sweeps or passes – period.

What I saw recently absolutely nauseated. A local novice team – that would be 8-, 9- and 10-year olds – was losing 40-6 when the winning team got the ball back with 22 seconds left in the first half and attempted to call a timeout. The referee would not grant the timeout, but the coach got his team on the field in time to run a double reverse for a long touchdown – or what appeared to be a touchdown.

The score was negated by a late penalty for holding, and the coaching staff went ballistic and had to be restrained from charging the referee! As if to prove a point, that team kicked an onside kick to start the second half, recovered it and ran it in for a score on the way to a 53-6 shellacking. What a life lesson did those boys – on either team – learn that day?

That night I watched a 74-6 thumping in a high school game – and considering there was a running clock the second half, it could have been much worse. Similar to the go-for-the-jugular attitude of the youth team that afternoon, after a long touchdown was called back midway through the second quarter with a 44-6 lead, the winning coaching staff took offense to one of their many touchdowns being called back. Unlike the youth game, flags flew as a result of the protest and that head coach was ejected.

Where nothing can be done for high school coaches act as if that point differential will impact their salaries, it is time that youth football league and team boards do their jobs and dump the coaches who are too busy either trying to relive their glory years or finally living the glory years they never had to realize the negative impact they rain over young impressionable lives.
Any comments? You can e-mail Dave Campbell at
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