Do Your Job

by Ryan Krzykowski

Living in Kansas City, I’m no fan of the New England Patriots.  At the same time it’s really difficult not to admire (and be kind of jealous of) all those wins and championships.  Aside from having outstanding coaching and a quarterback who somehow doesn’t age, the Patriots have become known for the mantra “Do Your Job”.  The idea is a fairly simple one — if everyone does his job, the team will win.  And they have.  A lot.  It’s sickening.

When our children play sports that same phrase applies.  If everyone does his/her job: players play, coaches coach, spectators spectate, officials call the game, it’s a much better experience for all.  This is not a new idea; I’ve heard a whole lot of people say something like this over the years.  But it’s one worth remembering, and as coaches, we have an opportunity and an obligation to effectively communicate this idea about knowing your role and doing your job to our players and their families.

In a couple weeks I’ll be having a parent meeting for the youth football team I’m coaching, and you can believe I’ll spend most of the time on parent/spectator behavior at games.  I get that officials make bad calls.  I understand that coaches make errors in judgment.  So what?  I’ll be sharing with those parents a Changing the Game post from over the summer, you can find it here.  John O’Sullivan’s post, called When You Attend a Youth Sports Event, Know Your Role! is a good reminder to consider what we’re trying to accomplish by allowing our kids to play.  I just reread the post, and was a little disheartened by one of the comments at the bottom.  A well-meaning (I’m assuming) parent posted this:

Most of the issues between parents stem from poor, inconsistent officiating. We’ve had so many examples of crazy, inappropriate calls that I couldn’t blame parents for getting upset. I’m not talking about whether something was a ball or a strike. One ump often didn’t watch the plays at all (we have the pictures) and made the call purely on what he heard people yell. Another ump who was in the infield called a kid hit by a pitch when the batter himself insisted he wasn’t hit. Once we even had a kid attempt to slide into second but stopped 2 feet in from the base. The second baseman tagged the runner. The runner himself started walking to the dugout and then the ump yelled safe! He never was close to the base. Twice we have had umpires show up to ump inebriated making completely inconsistent and out right wrong calls. Baseball would be more pleasant all around if those with the power were actually competent.

I don’t know if it would help, but I’d love to have a chance to talk with this parent.  Are they really telling me that because officials made horrible calls, that the best reaction from these parents (who have the pictures) is to lose their minds?  I don’t care if you have the pictures.  I don’t need to see the pictures.  I believe the umpires in your story made really bad calls, although I can’t defend the ones that showed up inebriated.  That needs to be handled by the supervisor of the league or tournament, but not directly by the parents.  Do your job.  Coaches, let’s kindly help these people see what they’re doing to our kids.  And by the way, a large part of the reason that the officiating is so poor in many cases is because very few people want that job and are willing to put up with the abuse from spectators and coaches.  You have likely heard there is a real shortage of officials, pretty much across the board.  We coaches can be part of the solution to that issue as well.

Bottom line, we can make this experience better for everyone involved, most notably the children and young people we are coaching.

Let’s Coach With Purpose.