For those of you who don’t watch or enjoy football stay with it. This isn’t about football. This is about the way coaches treat our boys.
Dear Mr. Kelly
This weekend I watched as your boys dressed proudly in the Notre Dame blue and gold and marched onto the field. I can’t even imagine the nerves, the pounding hearts, the inability to catch their breath, the excitement and the overwhelming sense of a dream coming true. How very few feel that.
I watched those boys march down the field with conviction towards the end zone in the opening drive. What a moment for them. They were so fired up. There it was. The end zone. The first touchdown of the year was surely theirs.
And then? The unspeakable. A fumble that the other team returned for a touchdown. Can you just imagine the air being taken out of their lungs? The sadness, the overwhelming feeling of horror and disappointment. The idea that they had just let down millions of Irish fans and most of all you. They had worked so hard. For themselves. For you. Their coach who they want to please and make proud. They had dreamed of this. And just like that, the other side of reality. A crushing blow.
They ran to the sidelines, dejected, seeking comfort and a pep talk, their leader to fire them back up. “No worries kids, this sucks but you learned something valuable. Let’s show them that was our only mistake.” Instead? What I saw from you was so horrifying, I almost had to turn the channel. Both because I couldn’t believe the way you treated those boys and also because I thought you might die of a heart attack right there on live television. I haven’t seen a fit like that since 1997 when my then two year old son was told (by me) that Chuck E. Cheese had been shut down. Permanently. A lie, yes. See? I too can be harsh.
I am not one of those women who doesn’t understand football. (You might have noticed that above when I referenced the end zone. Or maybe not. That one is pretty easy.) I was raised on football. I breathe football. I live for it. I run two fantasy leagues. I know a lot about football. Hell, I know more than most of my male counterparts. I get it. It’s a tough and macho game and these kids are MEN dammit.
I also know a hell of a lot about boys. I have three. I have raised them to be men. To be tough. Crying is for girls, new fangled therapy crap be damned. Men need to be men and women need to be women. Or something like that. I like my men to be cowboys and I raise my boys to be the same. Open the damn door, pull out the chair and for the love of all that is manly in this world do not EVER put fruit in your beer.
Boys can be boys and men can be men without having their spirits crushed like an empty beer can. Get with the times man. Screaming is so Bobby Knight.
Have you ever heard of the old adage, “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar?” My dad taught me that one. Or how about, “There’s no use cryin’ over spilt milk?” (Can’t you just see a cowboy saying that?) You could use a little of both in your life.
Take for example this. Over the 16 years I have been raising my boys I have seen some serious amounts of spilled milk. I mean SERIOUS AMOUNTS.
I don’t scream, “What in the f*&k was that? Why did you spill that milk? We have practiced this. Are you not capable of pouring milk? Sit your ass down on that chair. You aren’t worthy of pouring milk.” (I have no idea what you really said, but assume it was something similar.)
Instead, I have chosen to make it a lesson. To realize that they were already horrified by their mistake. They don’t want to be the jackass that spills the milk or fumbles the ball. They strive to not screw up. It’s human nature. I took note of the positioning of their hands as they poured it and suggested a different technique. Or that their eyes were looking too far down the room at Sponge Bob Square Pants and not on the cup in front of them. I might have said, “You know what, that is just too heavy for you. You aren’t ready to pour the milk, so for now I’ve gotta let someone else do it for you.”
When you scream at them and belittle them when they make a mistake, when you make them feel like a complete asshole for screwing up, guess what they are doing the next time they touch the football (or milk)? They are THINKING. They are petrified. They see your red screaming face in their head saying, “DON’T F&*K THIS UP.”
I’m sure you realize that is a bad thing. Well, if you didn’t before the game you certainly should have after. I mean holy shaky hands Batman. Those kids played a horrible game and if you ask me, it’s your fault. Not because you didn’t have them ready for the game as some in the sports “know” have suggested. You had them ready. But at the first sign of trouble, you scared the athlete right out of them.