As I was processing some Little League pictures before heading north for the pending birth of the girl’s boy I was watching Friday Night Tykes, a series on Esquire Network about youth football.
This episode was about the Snoop (as in Snoop Dogg) Youth Football League national championship (I can’t make this up) between a team from Texas and one from Long Beach.
The team from Long Beach was loaded and the Texas attack was centered around one kid. On a Long Beach score the Texas stud got hurt. One of the Long Beach coaches tells the kid that hurt him if the Texas kid stays out of the game she (yes, a woman coach), will pay the kid that sidelines him $50.
A quote from her: “If Myzel (Miller) doesn’t come back in, Scooby (the one who scored the touchdown) gets $50. I told you, he has to be out. If he don’t come back in, I owe you $50. Straight up. And I’m going to pay you tonight.”
Well, Miller does come back in and then she says, “And that’s for anybody…get him out and I owe you 50. It’s easy. Get rich.”
While I despise Texas and most everything that has ever come out of it, they came back and mollywhopped the Long Beach team. And I hope that woman coach is never allowed back on the field again.
I have been associated in one form or another – player, coach, reporter – with youth football for probably half my life. I played it for four years. I coached it while in high school and in the service, and then again when the boy played. After my coaching days, I stepped away to sports writing and have been on the sidelines ever since.
I do not know where the game I love so much is headed. With more and more coming out nearly every day on the long-term effects of head trauma and football – Dwight Clark may be the latest casualty – the sport has an uphill climb ahead.
With the inherent risks of the game, there is no need to make things worse with abysmal coaching. I have seen some pitiful examples of youth coaching, but nothing compared with the Long Beach coach.
Close to 20 years ago I was covering a lower-level youth football game – the little guys. The other team had a speedster and at that level, and that normally means a sure victory. But not that day – the local team was losing 6-0 and was going to get the ball back with one more chance to score.
The coach called the kids together just prior to their last possession for what I thought was going to be a Knute Rockne speech – boy did I think wrong. He told the kids, I can remember it like it was yesterday, “When you guys get home tonight I want you look at yourselves in the mirror you will see the dictionary definition of the word pathetic.”
I was floored. Of course the team lost, and I have to wonder how many players we lost that day.
Fast forward a few years to the Delta Rebels varsity playing the Modesto 49ers in the Super Bowl. “Playing” is being charitable – the Rebels got run right out of the stadium – and run, and run, and run.
The 49ers kept piling it on – reverses, sweeps, long passes – all the things a team is not supposed to do when in command, especially in the second half. This went all while the Delta Youth Football League board of directors stood in the end zone in their fancy parkas with not one of them going over to the Modesto coach to tell him to take his foot off the gas pedal.
This time I wrote a column about it – not in this paper, but one in Tracy. The fallout was incredible. I was called a bigot because I did not realize “the socio-economic hurdles” the Modesto team had to overcome. Who cares? I do not care what color coaches and players are when they show such disrespect for a game that I love so much, nor does their color give them an excuse to do so.
I sincerely hope the woman coach mentioned earlier never coaches again. If she tries to play the race card or even the gender card, I hope those sitting in judgment tear them up and throw them right back in her face. The game has enough problems without her and her ilk in it.
Life is a karma thing, and I hope hers hurts – a lot.
As a side note, for those with Esquire the second half of the Friday Night Tykes season is about to begin, and this will focus on a league in Western Pennsylvania. While I could not relate to the Texas portion of the show that much, the Pennsylvania leagues remind me so much of coaching youth football in Manteca 20 years ago.