Winning isn’t everything.
Winning is fun. Winning is the goal every time a game is played. Winning is important.
But winning isn’t everything.
I don’t think I have ever known a coach who didn’t care about winning. I wouldn’t want to. Sometimes, victory isn’t revealed by a scoreboard. There are moral victories even though a coach once reminded a sports editor of mine that moral victories are, in fact, still losses.
Equally, I would argue that some wins aren’t really wins.
This week, I covered a baseball game where a team took on one of our local squads. I always pull for our hometown teams, but never as much as I did Tuesday.
There was no way I wanted the opposing team’s coach to think that his methods were acceptable simply because his team pulled off a major upset.
I spoke to this coach and his assistant before the game. They were jovial, kind and courteous. I was actually impressed. Then the game started.
The assistant coach was still a true gentleman throughout, but the head coach allowed Mr. Hyde to escape his Dr. Jekyl persona.
In a matter of eight innings of baseball, I heard this man call his team losers, gutless wonders and mentally weak. He told them they couldn’t play at this level, they didn’t deserve any scholarship offers and that he couldn’t believe they won a state title. He even told them that players like them were a dime a dozen and even made a point of leaving his coach’s box for a few pitches to come across the field to berate a player publicly and loudly while the game continued.
This was while his team was taking the No. 1 team in the nation into extra innings on the road. Any of the other 27 teams in the same situation this year would have been proud.
After the game, he forced his team to stay on Shawnee’s field to run for far too long. It wasn’t conditioning. It was humiliation.
What I just described isn’t coaching. It is bullying. When you are already in a position of authority, bullying is just twisted entertainment. You’re already in charge. You don’t have to prove anything now.
I don’t want any coach to be satisfied with a loss. However, I have coached kids between 6 and 16 years old for more than 25 years and I have managed hundreds of employees in the same time period and I never felt the need to insult anyone to motivate them.
I know this guy thinks he is the spitting image of Bobby Knight. I wish Knight would have never won a game. There is a place in coaching for toughness. Learning to succeed in the face adversity is one of the most important lessons taught by athletics.
A player who is embarrassed and publicly insulted may in fact play harder to try to prove his coach is wrong about him. But they will do it in spite of their coach, not for him or because of him.
The sad thing is, this man is obviously a talented coach who can teach baseball.
At one point Tuesday, he told his team they were “the biggest bunch of losers he had ever been around.” He’s doing pretty well for himself, because that is a fine baseball team and they have won championships before and they very well could win another one in about three weeks. They deserve better than to be berated by a coach whose job it is to teach them how to compete.
Fans of both teams heard most of his outbursts. Some from here were making fun of his antics. Some of his team’s fans were there to hear it too. It was disappointing that they seemed resigned to it and no one even bothered to speak up for the players who have to take it or quit the game they have loved their entire lives.
Sportsmanship starts in your own dugout. If you wouldn’t say it to your opponent, you certainly shouldn’t say it to your own team.
The coach wins a lot of games even though they didn’t win Tuesday. But winning isn’t everything. I know he is probably parroting a coach he played for when he was young enough to misinterpret bullying for strength and insults for motivation.
That’s why nothing will happen. The false bravado gang will defend him because he’s just like their old coach and it is just part of the game.