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Cursing at players not appropriate, effective

Cursing at players not appropriate, effective

District right to take action over verbally abusive coaches

For many who grew up in earlier generations, having our sports coaches curse at us was as much a part of practice as wind-sprints and pushups.

Remember when the football coach would grab a player by the facemask, press his nose as close as he could get, and scream-spit insults directly into his face?

And they didn't stop at four-letter words. Your manhood, sexual preference, nationality and the identity of your true parents were not out of bounds for a coach seeking to “motivate.”

Ahh, the good old days.

So one might be tempted to think the Saratoga Springs school district has been overreacting by suspending three sports coaches in the past three years due to the use of inappropriate language directed at players.

But rather than condemn the district for caving in to the sensitive sensibilities of today's generation of soft teens, officials should be commended for understanding the role of coaches as instructors and the need for them to model respect and decorum.

Certainly, four-letter words and insults aren't going to deflower the tender ears of today's teenagers. Stand on any street corner next to a gaggle of teen boys and you'll hear more profanity in five minutes than your grandfather's generation heard in their entire lifetimes — and they fought in world wars.

But today's coaches and teachers understand that the old tried-and-true methods often don't fit what we've since learned about psychology, child development and the basic treatment of human beings — adults and kids.

In their book, "Coaching: A Realistic Perspective," Michael and Ralph Sabock say that coaching is teaching, and teaching doesn't require swearing.

"There is not one shred of evidence that proves that swearing at players helps them learn quicker, better or more. Nor is there any evidence to substantiate the belief that it makes any individual tougher or a better athlete."

Kids who grow up without parents swearing at them, the Sabocks say, grow up to disrespect people who do curse at them. They see these coaches as demonstrating "phony tough" and a poor grasp of the English language.

In the case of the three suspended Saratoga Springs coaches, two of them were also classroom teachers at the school.

Would a parent accept a science teacher or a social studies teacher waging a profanity war on their child for failing to grasp the physics behind magnetic resonance or not knowing who won the Mexican-American War?

Would any of these teacher/coaches use the same language in the classroom as they do on the playing field?

And what exactly are these coaches hoping to get out of their tirades anyway?

Kids who are humiliated by harsh language and insults aren’t going to develop the self-esteem needed to excel at anything, particularly the sport they’re playing.

While some kids can take more verbal abuse than others, all kids benefit from having to take none. It won’t prepare them for “the real world” and it won’t make them better people. It will just make their sports experience more miserable.

Is that the goal?

We're not raising a generation of power-puffs by casting aside the old ways that we grew up with.

We're taking advantage of gained knowledge and understanding into how to treat and motivate people — the same people who will soon grow up to become the next generation of teachers and coaches.

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