I have been an athlete or a coach my whole life – Well, until I got my new couch and 50 inch LED TV. Now, I’m too out of shape to consider myself an athlete, so I am “just” a coach. That makes me a leader of young men, a molder of minds, and an architect of futures. You are probably thinking to yourself, “OK, Coach, that sounds like a little much.”
During the football season, I spend close to 20 hours a week with the kids I coach, and more during the 10 days of camp, plus the offseason workouts. It could be argued that during their 3 years on the varsity football team, I spend more time with my players than any other person in their lives other than their parents or guardians. I talk to them about everything from movies to where they want to go to college. One of the most prevalent topics that comes up is girls. They are teenage boys and on a field with 45 of their peers, so sometimes they want to sound like they are “the man” and pretend that they have girls all figured out, or worse exaggerate about their “accomplishments”.
I am faced with a choice at this point, should I intervene or should I ignore the chatter and focus on the game plan? What if I chose the latter? Would it be worth talking to these “jock” football players about sexual violence?
For me the answer is simple, and I do intervene. I preach doing things the right way all week and on Friday nights. I tell these kids not to “take plays off” and focus on the details, and therefore, I maintain this mentality be implemented off of the field, as well.
I would be a hypocrite if I sat by and ignored inappropriate language and behavior from my players. I would be “taking a play off” as a coach if I didn’t intervene. I would be failing these kids if I did not talk to them about treating women and girls with dignity and respect.
I firmly believe that I am “Coaching Boys into Men” – who wants to join me?
-John, Educator at PAAR