THE STRIKE ZONE
Sometimes Sports, Sometimes Sportsmanship
Back in February, ArbiterSports (the company responsible for providing electronic services to assign officials to games) published an article in one of its blogs about the relationship between the coach and the official. The thesis of the argument is simple: coaches and officials need to find ways to get along since they each have the common goal of providing a great experience for the student-athletes.
The article went on to provide some tips for officials to consider on how to cultivate the relationship from their end. Many of the tips were self-explanatory: practice empathy, be proactive, stay calm, etc.
However, there was one point that made me raise an eyebrow...
Under the heading of discussing the tip about practicing empathy, the article goes on to describe coaches at the high school level expecting high results for the purposes of pleasing their superiors...perhaps I'm grossly over-stating it, but the idea is that results are demanded and the difference between success and failure could mean the difference between having a job and getting fired.
I might expect this as the professional level, but at the high school level? Did I just read that right?
In my travels as an umpire, I've experienced many things, and unfortunately, this is something I've seen from time to time. In any scenario where the athletes are amateurs, student-athletes, or simply kids having recreational fun (even when they have to try out and make the team), the idea of having to produce results so that job security is optimal for coaches shows a real problem with society. This is even a problem at the collegiate level, but the issue with collegiate athletics goes so much farther beyond the scope of this argument that we would be here for a while.
Let's stick just with what was specifically referenced in this article. According to this post, high school sports should be classified under the heading of the level that demands results from its athletes, specifically for the validation of the coaches and the future of their jobs. Frankly, my response is this simple: if any high school program is using game/championship results to specifically determine whether or not a coach/employee is worthy of keeping his/her job, that program should be removed from the face of this Earth.
High school coaches should be judged not on the win/loss record of a team, but rather on the general experiences of the members of the team. Now, that might be easier said than done these days, especially in this litigious society where you simply cannot please everyone, and those who are not pleased may try to find some legal loophole that might be the catalyst to a ridiculous law suit, but the idea is still true. If a team goes 3-20 on the season, but the kids have a good time, the coach shouldn't just be outright fired! Maybe the kids were just terrible in that school! And that is supposed to cost the coach his job?
I know it's a lot easier said than done based on the variables that come with each specific case. But perhaps even a few administrators can consider this argument and realize that the success and failure of a team may not rely on wins and losses, but on the experience of the student-athletes.
Baseball player, umpire, coach, fan; professional musician; founder, President & CEO of The OSIP Foundation, Inc.