Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Not a condemnation of all sports programs

My first disgruntled parent letter post was not a condemnation of all sports programs. Looking at it again, it does look like that though. Sorry.

It was not meant that way. I was frustrated over how KoKo was being treated, despite her work ethic and diligence. If athletics teach us anything - it is that your work will be rewarded. I simply doubted if KoKo's reward was matching the work put in.

I also understand an athlete needing to realize their role on a team. That is an excellent point. I never doubted KoKo's role. But when speaking about roles, that is a two way street. For example, teachers have to understand their roles in the lives of our children. Coaches can say all they want about their role in our kids' lives, but that is just it: a role.

The feedback I heard regarding the previous post was fair and justified. The coaches were protecting their babies (their programs) and I was protecting mine (Beaner). I see both sides. And I see their roles.

To be fair, KoKo's coach did call Kristie and things were ironed out. KoKo played all three games, with her team winning the final two (with KoKo serving the final three points in the third game).

Things were handled with respect and fairly. If you check the time I posted the previous blog, it was the next day. It was not like I was unhappy or ungrateful for how the matter was dealt with and then fired off that post. It was written the same time as my disgruntled email. My error was not getting around to posting this very entry the next evening.

Again, I did not mean to condemn other programs or athletics in general. Here is a post in which I stick up for programs when they come under attack. As I said, sports CAN mean so much to a kid. Or they cannot. Maybe it depends on a greater partnership between parents, coaches, and athletes than the one that exists now. Maybe this is what we are working toward. I hope so. If this post hurt that effort. I am sorry. I did not want it to appear that way.

Even last summer Kristie defended KoKo's softball coach when several parents were watching practice, and one player copped a bit of an attitude. The coach let her have it and she stormed off and the parents were angry and confronted the coach. Well, soon other parents were jumping in and voicing their displeasure over several other things.

Kristie was the first to stick up for him saying that he was justified in dealing with attitudes and not to just all gang up on him when he is backed into a corner.

But coaching, teaching, and parenting - and all are intertwined are a two way street (if that metaphor is not too messed up). But we all - coaches, teachers, and parents - must understand our roles. But one role is much more important than all the others. If you don't know already which role that is . . . stop reading now. It is a lost cause.

What conferences last week did a good job of reminding me (and I often take this for granted) is that I just don't have a student in my class. What I do in good old 211 reaches far beyond that. In a way, I also have their parents indirectly in my class as well, for many parents mentioned how much their children talk about both me and my class at home. That made me really think about what I say and do and teach when I am in front of their kids.

I don't just teach Johnnie for 90 minutes a day. That teaching goes back home.

The same is true with athletics. This too was brought home during conferences when I was visiting with some parents whose younger son is on my football team. He has been out with a concussion for most of the season. He has been helping out, though, as kind of a manager. Well, in our last practice we didn't have enough players to run a full scout offense, so I asked the player in question to come into the huddle. I told him to just walk out and then run a route and I'd hit him for a touchdown. Since he was in street clothes, no one expected it and he caught a TD. Then we had him break the team down to end practice. His parents told me just how much that little moment meant to him. And to be honest, I had almost forgotten about that! Yet, it totally made that kid's season!

So if that was a little moment in an athlete's life, just imagine what the major moments mean! Both those good and bad moments. That is a big responsibility. And when a parent worries about the impact of those moments on our children and their well being, then we do have a right to question. That doesn't mean we are attacking.

After the conference, I was reminded how blessed I am to have a fraction of the day with my students and athletes. And how grateful I was that their parents let me occupy those roles in the lives of their children. It is a pleasure to serve them. But I understand my role. I serve them . . . and their children.

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