People don’t like to be pushed
If you ask someone in the older generation to describe their best teacher or coach you will often get a response something like this …
“He pushed me farther than I thought I could go and never let me take the easy road. He demanded 100% effort at all times and never accepted any excuses. Honestly, I couldn’t stand him at the time but I now realize why he did what he did and I am forever grateful.”
Unfortunately, the culture we live in today does not give a lot of respect or benefit of the doubt to these kinds of teachers/coaches. Too often, pushing a student or player is interpreted as “bullying” or “harassment.” You may find it disturbing (I certainly do) but the new term in academia for bullying and harassment is “internal terrorism.” I’ll avoid expanding on that term because my head just might explode.
We can all point to a previous coach we’ve had or seen that crossed the line when it came to pushing players. Verbal and/or physical abuse of players were often techniques that administrators pretended not to see or justified it as “just part of the sports culture.” Thankfully, that is no longer the case.
However, I personally think we’ve swung too far to the opposite side of the spectrum. Good coaches, both volunteer and paid, are being driven out of the industry because their actions are criticized by players, parents, and administrators as “bullying.” As a result, teachers and coaches change their methods out of fear of potential consequences. On the surface that may seem like a good thing and in some cases it is. However, when good people stop doing the things that make them “good,” both sports and society suffer the consequences. It is very easy for teachers and coaches to become afraid or just hesitant to challenge and/or discipline students/players for fear of how their actions are interpreted. I tell my students that when a teacher or coach stops disciplining you is when you have to be truly afraid.
Pushing people to be better than they are will always ruffle some feathers. It’s human nature. We like our comfort zones. Ask any adult who has worked with a private trainer to lose weight how they felt about the trainer during the workouts. They probably hated them but when the goal is met they undoubtedly felt a new respect for the trainer.
As all of us in coaching know, sometimes all it takes is one anonymous letter to be sent to a principal, athletic director, or newspaper criticizing us to get the ball rolling against us. It doesn’t have to even be substantiated. Just the accusation is enough for some administrators to jump.
It’s a bad trend in sports and our culture as a whole. I wish I had the answer but I don’t. I also don’t think it’s going to get better any time soon.
Next post: You shouldn’t be getting thrown out of games