Coaching Football

This is embarrassing to admit (I am (after all) a "Father-of-five" and a father to three boys.) but I'll air my dirty laundry. . .

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All my boys are involved in sports. They love playing Baseball, Basketball, and / or Football. They are enrolled through the city's "Community Education" program, and coached by volunteer parents.

It should be no surprise to some of the people that read this blog that my knowledge of sports, and sports related information is very, VERY limited. I played a very little bit of Baseball (tee-ball) as a kid. Ben (my oldest son) played baseball every year since he was 5 years old (now 18). I have a pretty basic grasp of baseball concepts. I played 3 years of basketball (6th, 7th and 8th grade). My kids also have played some basketball, but not as much as they play baseball. Football is another story. I have never played, and only recently have my two younger boys started playing the game. They have played flag football until this year where Jonathan (my 5th grader) is playing tackle football with pads, helmet, playbook, and the "whole nine yards". Zachary, my 4th grader is still in flag football.

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A couple of nights ago, our neighbor (who has a 3rd grader on the same team as my 4th grader - and also is a parent volunteer coach) called me asking a favor. He was unable to attend the game, and asked if I would be willing to take his 3rd grader with me. (No problem, my boys and his son are very close friends). He then asked me if I would be willing to check in with the other coach to see if he needed any help (The third coach was not going to make it either). After explaining how much I know about football (zero) I was assured it would not be important, and my roll would be to just help maintain the kids. I agreed, figuring it would be doubtful that I would even be needed. There are, after all, other parents present who know more about the game than I do. Zachary was so excited to hear that I was going to be a "coach" that night. After seeing the expression on his face, I had to other choice but to offer my help. Upon arrival, I did in fact find the one coach there with no other help, so I was required to help coach the team.

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I will tell you what I do know about football. I know the most basic of concepts, such as - run or pass at least 10 yards to keep your "downs" less than 4 - On the 4th down you can punt - a Touchdown is with 6 points - and when you get a touchdown - you get to try for an "extra point" - If you are close enough to the goal post, you can try to make a field goal for 3 points - I know what "offence" and "defense" means - I also know what the center and the quarterback does.

While "coaching" (if that is what you want to call what I did) I had 10 eight-to-ten year olds all screaming and shouting, raising their arms and bouncing up and down like they had to pee asking things like "Can I be half-back", "Can I be full-back", "I wanna be safety". and so the list goes. What is a tight end? What is an offensive blocker? What is a Tackle"? I was good for telling the kids to hush up and listen to their coach (the other Dad), and stand on the sidelines and yell the count to five before the kids could rush the quarterback. Thank God the other coach knew something about football, because it was obvious that I knew NOTHING.

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That was until the other coach said he had to take his little one (on the sidelines) to use the bathroom. Then it was embarrassingly obvious. Kids all yelling out that they wanted to play the certain positions, me not knowing anything what position plays where, how many of any certain position are played, etc, etc, etc. It was a lesson in futility. My answer was "Same position - Same Play" for each of the three plays I was left alone with.

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Truly sad. . . That's all I am going to say.

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- - - - - - -

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I will share with you a couple of other observations I had during the game.

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First - While my lack of knowledge in some of the most basic interests of my children bothered me, I found the other end of the spectrum just as bothersome. The "ex - high school star quarterback" wannabe coach who squats down and gets in the faces of these 3rd and 4th graders, yelling at them to block left, block right, and to run deep, with all the intensity of a NFL coach is so disturbing to me. I honestly do not know which is worse - not knowing enough about a sport or knowing so much you can not control yourself). Sheesh - these guys could sure use a Quaalude or two.

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Which brings me to my second "observation" - Should I be disturbed that (because of my job) I know more about illegal drugs, drug paraphernalia, and their usage than I do about the basic rules of football? Does that make me a bad dad?

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And lastly (related to my first observation) - Back at home I had a chance to talk to the neighbor (the one that was not able to make it to the game that night). I discovered that he also volunteers as a referee for the 5th and 6th grade league. While talking about how bad I was at coaching, and how "overzealous" some of these coaches get, he started telling me stories of how the coaches, and even parents of the 5th and 6th graders (ages 10-13) dispute, disagree, yell, scream, get in the face, and call names at the referees. His friend that refereed with him for the past two years refused to do it again this year. He told my neighbor it's not worth the hassle the coaches and parents dish out.

Perhaps my greater knowledge of drug culture over the rudimentary aspects of most sports may disturb you, but in my mind, these coaches and parents that go postal over elementary school sporting events, have some serious mental malfunctions!

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