|6/20/2012 10:10:28 AM -
I had an exchange with my friend The Thinker yesterday that got me, no pun intended, thinking about some things yesterday. For anyone who doesn't know, James has relocated to England to take a position there (I saw he announced this on the site in one Q/A post, so I'm assuming it's okay to reference it). Having played a small (a messenger kind of thing) role in helping him secure the position, I pleased to hear that he's thrilled with his new arrangement and that everything is going well.
I'm definitely not trying to criticize James for pointing something out about him here, but typically, what you hear and read from him is stuff that's critical -- of the coaching process in the United States, of how everything works, etc, etc. It's not very often that you'd read a piece of his writing and say to yourself, "Damn, The Thinker just made me feel f-ing great about life!"
And no, I'm not being a hypocrite. I do the same shit. Probably worse, because James doesn't typically delve into other areas of the world besides the American coaching model. So, with that said, it was great to hear that he's moved into an arrangement that's giving him some professional and personal satisfaction.
Hearing that, however, made me think about some shit with regard to why I'm in this business, too. As coaches -- especially if you're involved with a team where you can't pick and choose the athletes you work with -- I think we fall too easily into the negativity trap, and once you're there, it's hard to come out of it. You go play your games, the kids make mistakes the way kids do, and then you, as a staff, head to the bar and talk about what a bunch of assholes they are as you're drinking yourself into your 30+ year old oblivion and choking down wings. It happens with high school (and likely college) coaching staffs all over America.
I'm not immune to it. Obviously. In fact, I think I invented the practice. There have been entire seasons where I've had nothing good to say about the kids after either a practice or a game.
They suck. They're assholes. They're pussies. They're retards. They're all f-ing stupid. They're not tough. They don't listen. We never did that shit when I played. I never would have made that mistake. That kid is going to prison in five years. Etc, etc, etc.
I've said all this shit and more. So has just about every coach who's been in the game long enough. No group of kids is every going to go through an entire season without pissing you off, and I've heard some coaches I seriously respect do this exact same shit.
Is it good or bad? I don't know. I really don't. One of my coaching IDOLS, who used to work with The Thinker (I think all the football guys who read this site will know who I'm taking about), has NEVER said anything positive about one of his players, at least that I know about. Now, I know this guy's coaching style and I know he'd take a bullet for one of his players, but I think ever kid he's ever coached has been called a "pussy" at least once -- or some such variation. Does this style work? Yeah, it works for him, because he gets better results than anyone in the business.
Same thing with Bill Parcells, another one of my coaching idols. You literally have to play for this guy for like a decade before you can get him to say anything nice about you in public. During games? Practices? Yeah, he encourages guys, but he's not exactly known as Mr. Positivity.
What's the point here? I don't know, because I just started kind of rambling, but in talking to James yesterday, I was reminded that we all occasionally need to look at the bigger picture of why we're coaching in the first place, and to keep that in mind while we're doing it. Too many times, in my coaching career, I've concentrated on the beer and the wings and the pissing and moaning, and it takes something like traveling to one of my kid's D-1 college games or another one of my kid's NFL debuts (and there have been some) to understand why I'm involved with this shit. That's what makes it worthwhile, and not all the pissing and moaning that happens when a sophomore QB f---s up a snap and you lose a playoff game.