There is something unusual about Texas dads and football.
Upon birth, every father signs his son up for the sport. If he ever played the game in his youth, he has a sacred obligation to serve as a coach. Dad and son will be on the football field as soon as the boy celebrates his fifth birthday, and then dad steps back when the professional coaches take over in middle school.
The majority of these dads do a great job teaching the boys the sports’ fundamentals in a safe and encouraging way. However, there are a few who don’t belong on field.
A few weeks ago, a coach in our local league smacked a kid during a game. To be fair, he smacked HIS kid – after the boy caused a fumble. Apparently, that’s a punishable offense for prepubescents whose hand-eye coordination is still developing.
Dad-Coach* angrily ran on the field after the play, clenched his hands, and yelled at the boy for a few seconds. He then pulled his arm back, smacked the child across the head, and walked away. As the boy cried on the sidelines, Dad-Coach returned and barked at him to stop the tears. He then went back to monitoring his team’s next play while another coach consoled his son.
Even though it happened in front of dozens of people, no one reacted. An opposing coach, who saw the incident on a game video, reported it to the league’s board of directors.
An inexcusable offense? Not really. A majority of the board members decided the infraction deserved a three game suspension; two dissenters quit in protest.
For hitting a kid.
I don’t understand the logic. Maybe they were thinking, “It wasn’t so bad,” or “This can happen to any coach during a frustrating game.” Or maybe they forgot the policies they showed all of us nervous moms that promised physical or verbal abuse of players would not be tolerated in any form.
I saw the video. I saw the response. As the mom of a young football player, the offense, punishment and indifference scare me more than anything that could ever happen on the field.
What message does this send to the boys? Suck it up if an adult hits you. You probably deserved it.
What message does it send to other coaches? Don’t worry about losing it on the field; you’ll just get a slap on the wrist.
What message does it send to me as parent? The feelings of grown-ups come before the safety and well-being of children.
Regardless of the messages the incident sends, one message has already been clearly received by a few folks. Dad-Coach has been mistreated and deserves support. During his first non-coaching game, a mom held up a “We Love Dad-Coach” sign in the stands and his team left the field chanting “For Dad-Coach! For Dad-Coach!”
What??? Maybe I’m missing something or perhaps I’m being over-sensitive.
I understand football is an aggressive game and players must be physically and mentally tough. However, I also understand my son and these other boys are still children, and children don’t learn when adults are yelling, hitting and throwing things.
This was the first time I’d ever seen a coach smack a child, and it better be the last time. Any full-grown man who degrades and strikes a child out of anger has no business being a football coach. Any adult who sees nothing wrong with it doesn’t deserve to be a parent.
End of story.
Even in Texas.
*Not his real name