Problems, Solutions and Results

Part of critical thinking is identifying problem areas and finding solutions.

Problem

Abusive behavior by some coaches does serious harm to their students' emotional well-being, motivation and love of sport.

Solutions

  • Provide a written curriculum developed internally to fit the particular needs of students, staff and school district.
  • Within that curriculum, teach and practice the axiom that people learn and achieve more in a positive, safe, supportive and encouraging environment for all students;
  • Evaluate coaches on how well they have modeled and taught this foundational skill and other life skills identified in the curriculum
  • Adjust the power imbalance within that curriculum that exists between all-powerful coaches and voiceless students that sets the table for abuse.

Results

  • Negative coaching, including physical and emotional abuse, will decrease significantly and eventually will be eliminated;
  • Coaches will become facilitators, not dictators;
  • Students will have significant voice in the operation of the team; They would:
    • Be encouraged to express their concerns about the team climate that has been created;
    • Share common values that all the participants agree to embrace so that it becomes their team, not the coaches, thereby increasing motivation and connectedness;
    • Promise to speak in respectful, encouraging tones to each other and be called on it when they do not;
    • Take part in planning for practices and upcoming contests;
    • Help in the administrative duties of the coach and other activities conducive to giving voice to students.
    • The coach’s job is to be in charge of the team and, therefore, they have the final say on all matters, especially game-time decisions. But the best coaches are constantly giving their players an opportunity to be heard and then listened to with respect. Both coach and athletes must be held accountable for their actions.

Problem

A negative sport culture exists on some teams where hate and bias are exhibited by students, coaches and fans.

Solutions

If the foundational goal is to explicitly teach how to create positive environments, districts should:

    • Communicate that goal to students/parents in emails, social media and on the walls of the school and the field or arena;
    • Staff volunteer students and staff as necessary to proctor during games; Public school staff speak before and during games about the educational goal of creating positive environments with a ban on negative chants and shouts from the stands;
    • Establish equitable system of enforcement to be set by each school;
    • Teach and practice anti-racist, misogyny and homophobic lessons with players so they become ambassadors of inclusion to the wider school population.

Results

Parents, fans, students and coaches will receive clear and unambiguous expectations; If enforced, those in attendance will change behavior.

Problem

Teams are entirely coach-dependent so that the Athletic Department is rudderless with as many messages as there are coaches; The Athletic Director cannot evaluate coaches effectively if there is no established curricula.

Solutions

  • Establish a collaboratively-written, district-wide curriculum which offers an opportunity to teach and practice transferable life lessons to achieve in all fields of endeavor;
  • These skills would include both sport psychology and social emotional learning (SEL) scientific findings; students would explicitly learn how to create positive climates, set goals, be task-oriented, build inclusive, long-lasting relationships, focus, manage emotions, give maximum effort and empathize with others.

Results

  • Students would learn skills that make them more employable;
  • Students would learn skills that address the importance of emotional wellness;
  • While allowing for the individual styles and methods of each coach, the Athletic Department will now have the same overall messaging on all teams;
  • Athletic Departments can then make the case for more funding because they are teaching an academic subject;
  • New hires and retention evaluations would be conducted with acceptance of the curriculum as a prerequisite while holding that position;
  • School districts will have evidence to present that they are supervising athletics to reduce the risk of liability.

Problem

The current model of a public school sports teams produces an inferior, out-of-date education for students; High school sports uses a 19th century model while ignoring the 21st century sciences of sport psychology and social-emotional learning (SEL).

Solutions

  • If there is are sciences that improve achievement, school districts should embrace them as they do in the academics side of public school without regard to a coach’s “style” if it is in opposition to science;
  • Sport psychology, an over 100 year-old science, and social emotional learning, a studied and proven common sense educational process, agree with each other’s established skills set as necessary for the best chance for success.

Results

  • Anyone attending a practice or game would see a coach and players with positive attitudes, energy and relationships;
  • Coaches are encouraging and enthusiastic;
  • Players are respectful and willingly take constructive criticism;
  • Patience, hard work and focus are apparent on the field;
  • Players and coaches are having fun trying to achieve their best.