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I don't talk much…until I do.

I was reminded of this the other evening while attending an art opening.  After making small talk with a few folks, I was paired with a fellow who was the husband of one of the artists.  Well, I began by asking him what he does for a living.  When he said he was a coach, I guess he triggered my babbling component because I began by saying that I don't much care for coaches.  (I've never been real PC, and as I age, it ain't getting any better.)  I babbled for a while about my lack of respect for coaches in general.  He politely sympathized with my general analysis of coaches and that only set me into a higher gear. 

We eventually moved on to other subjects.  As I recall, we spoke of the importance of saving money, the importance of good kids influencing other kids, the vagaries of the art world, and even my mother’s history in her later years.  I asked if he knew a series of coaches that I knew.  He knew many of them, and he pretty well agreed with my assessment of each. 

Well, after getting home for the evening, I began to think of what I had said to him…particularly the stuff about coaches.

I must have shown some restraint during our conversation because I still feel compelled to further discuss coaches, and now that I have you here, here goes.

When I was in high school, I was not an athlete (You don't seem surprised?) and all of my contact with coaches was either in the academic classrooms or in PE classes.  I remember liking all of them, particularly the head coach, Mr. Jimmy Keith.  Like the other coaches, he always conducted himself in a professional manner.  Well, almost all of the coaches.  I watched one coach ruin his career with his overreaction to a kid's attitude in a hallway one day.  Sad.  I had Mr. Keith for PE one year.  He took the class seriously even though we weren't athletes.  He didn't just roll a basketball or football out and tell us to knock ourselves out.  It seems as though I remember doing about a thousand sit ups under Mr. Keith's direction.  I was glad when his football team won the state championship the year after I graduated.  He was the type of fellow that I saw too few of during my years in education.

For a while, there was a third party in the conversation with the coach I mentioned.  When I said that I generally did not like coaches, the third party seemed incredulous and asked why.  I responded that I was under the impression that most of the folks in coaching would find a more natural occupation as insurance salesmen.  I think the third party drifted away at that point.

Now don't get me wrong.  Many of my best friends were or still are coaches today.  Each one of these friends was professional and realized that his or her primary roll as a coach was to be an educator.  However, many of the coaches that I've encountered in Texas seem to be confused about their roles.

Now, I can't say that any coach personally did anything negative to me.  On the contrary, most were easy to get along with; well, if you only have interest in coaching, why cause problems beyond that venue?

My problem with coaches is the culture which has developed in their field of endeavor.  It's a culture which holds disdain for education.  They don't see themselves as teachers; they see themselves as coaches---only.  They don't seem to be able to breach the gap between coaching and teaching which means they often contribute little to the overall educational program.  Some, if assigned an academic class, go so far as to take pride in not teaching the class.  Holy crap!  What's wrong with these people.  Let me support my argument.   As long as I was in education, coaches were history teachers; when the state began to test students in history, I knew they wouldn't be history teachers long.  They, with a few exceptions, are now teaching non-tested areas.

Now let's have a little sympathy for coaches. They're a group of people who place their livelihoods in the hands of youngsters…not the smartest move ever.  They're subject to the irrational expectations of parents, too many of whom expect little Johnny or Jane to be on the varsity and to be played the entire games,  and they have to move to new jobs so often that they could be classified as gypsies.


I suppose I should find something positive to say about coaches.  Well, I positively think they should be moved outside of the school day.  Too often their contributions during the school day are not positive ones.  You may be shocked to know that most states don't include athletics as part of the school day.  Give them the rest of the day to “coach.”  Give teachers the school day.

The coach to whom I was speaking at the art opening seemed well-educated, balanced, and grounded in the importance of education.  I suspect he too hates the culture among too many of our coaches in Texas.