Category Archives: Football

They’re Still Kids

Last night while I worked the booth at our football game and we played against an inferior team, a parent said to me “how can they be playing so badly?”

I replied, “They’re kids.”

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Yes, our team is more athletic, better coached (I’d argue), and more practiced, but a high school football team is made up of 14-18 year-old kids. If you’ve ever worked with teens, you know that even the most intelligent students can be emotional, rash, and mistake-prone. They are not perfect. They err. If they were perfect, they wouldn’t need to be in school.

If you’ve ever coached high school football, you also know that anything can happen in a high school game, especially the first game of the season when the kids get their first taste of hitting an opponent instead of their teammates. The kids can be overly driven by emotion, feel overconfident, revert to bad habits that you’ve worked on in practice, and more.

This is just like the classroom. I have taught my students how to use advanced skills when writing their essays, provided feedback, sat one-on-one with kids, and given multiple practices and then watched my students ignore all of that teaching, coaching, and practicing when writing the very next essay. We then have to go back to those previous skills–the ones they already showed me they could perform–and remind, re-teach, and review.

Sometimes kids are just kids.

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Proof of High School Success

Often I hear my college-teaching friends bemoan the amount of information students lose between high school graduation and the first day of college. This is certainly a problem.

However, one student at Oregon State University definitely remembered how to position himself in a proper 3-point football stance which resulted in a tazing. No memory loss there. Maybe a blackout though.

Still, there will be plenty of articles to remind him of his 3-point success.

Quick Wit and Confidence

I was told a story one time by a fellow basketball coach while at a camp who spoke about motivation and self-confidence. If this story is true, it’s a great tale.

Bobby Bowden, after losing a few critical games due to poor field goal kicking, brought three high school field-goal-kicking recruits to a home game to watch Bowden’s Florida State Seminoles play a game.

Bowden walked over to the first hopeful kicker and said, “if I pull the other ten players off the field as you are about to kick off, would you be able to kick the ball through the end zone?”

The young recruit looked at Coach Bowden and said, “Yes, sir!”

Coach Bowden nodded and then sauntered over to the second excited recruit and asked the same question. Once again the response was “Yes, sir!”

Lastly, Coach Bowden slowly walked to the third aspiring recruit and once again asked if the young man before him could kick the ball through the end zone. The young man looked right at Coach Bowden and said, “I think so, Coach, but if I don’t, I’ll damn sure make that tackle.”

The third recruit became Coach Bowden’s kicker.

I Guess Academics Don’t Always Matter

Charlie Weis was fired from his head coaching job at Notre Dame. I’d have to say that it was a justifiable firing although I also think Notre Dame has too high expectations, but that’s a post of a different color.

What interests me about Weis’ dismissal is that the Notre Dame Athletic Director, Jack Swarbrick, stated that Charlie Weis “did win a national championship at Notre Dame because the Irish finished first in graduation success rate this year.” However, Swarbrick also noted that the Weis firing was justifiable because “it is critical to this program and to its place in this University and college football that we compete at the highest level, that we compete for National Championships.”

Academic successes, however, could not save Weis’ job. Academic success is not the goal. In fact, most college football experts will say that winning football championships and having the highest of graduation rates do not go together (as they have been discussing this week on ESPN Radio and on ESPN’s TV shows). The best athletes in football rarely have the best grades.

Still, I like the bitter and revealing irony of Swarbrick’s comments. Collegiate athletic programs are more concerned with victories than they are with graduates. Perhaps this is a statement which is overly obvious, but it still resonates with me.

A part of me feels like this situation is somewhat analogous to the pressure applied to teachers in the classroom. Having high standards for students is ultimately important, but we’re asked to focus on passage or graduation rates. I have posted previously that I have been pressured to pass kids or make deals with kids rather than holding them to the requested high standards. This, to me, again shows that academics and learning are not the priority but numbers are. It sometimes comes down to a win/loss record first and foremost.

Or maybe I’m just feeling a bit cynical today. 🙂