Tomorrow Beyond The Pitch podcast will release an episode that features me as a guest. First off, it was an honor to do the appearance, and I hope I get the chance to do many more with BTP and others. Many coaches have an important message to share about youth sports, and I will happily be the messenger. Let’s fight the good fight together.
Now about this podcast. During the episode you will hear me say many controversial things regarding youth sports in America (and beyond). We talk about specialization, the Jockacrocy, Pros as coaches, the words we use, and much more. I don’t have a problem speaking my mind. I don’t have a problem holding up the mirror and make no apologies about what I say because it needs to be said. If you are not making a few enemies along the path of your cause, you are not standing up for your cause.
I do want to explain the most controversial comment I made…and apologize to a fantastic player and role model. If it doesn’t end up on the cutting room floor, at one point we got to talking about the 1% versus the 99% (if we are splitting hairs it is much closer the .00003 percent) and I brought up a local player who is making a splash with the National Team and in Collegiate soccer. At that moment I said “I don’t care about [the player]”.
It sounds harsh. It seems antithesis to what I preach. It was making a point. I read the newspapers, the digital mags, the twitter streams, and much more every day and all I see is the bragging about how many players are on the National Team from this club, how many State Championships this club won, how many collegiate signees this team had, and so on. Everyone wants to take credit for these 1% and tout that as the penultimate of coaching. That is flat out rubbish.
1. We didn’t make these players. They were endowed with a gift and all we may have done was enhance. To be so arrogant as to say you played a major role? Most of the time we just hope to not screw them up on their way to greatness. The chances of that are far more likely. Besides, a “village” of people guided them on their path to stardom. To take credit is to commit the ERR (Ego, Resume, or Revenue means more than the players).
2. And this is the BIG ONE, it should not be about the 1%. I love the fact this area has produced some great 1% players. In fact, at one point in time I was one of those possible 1% kids (way back when the ball was made out of stone and we played barefoot using Mammoth tusks as goal posts). As youth sport coaches, though, the focus needs to be on the other 99% as well. In Ohio South there are over 55,000 children registered to play youth soccer. Even more playing rec and other levels. If we focus just on this one player, apply all our best resources toward her, and care only about our accomplishment with her, we have failed our mission. over 54,999 other players will not get our best and will go on to do something else without having been empowered to succeed.
We need to focus on all players. We need to fulfill that obligation to create men and women prepared to succeed in life after the game ends. Our goal as youth coaches needs to change. We are not there to create the best soccer players. We are there to help empower great young men and women who just so happen to be pretty good at soccer.
If we meet a 1% along the way, that is awesome. Give that player every chance to continue on in his or her career, but don’t lose focus on the next generation of humans who will have our influence echo for the rest of their lives. Those players who will leave the sport. 70% of them do by High School, so don’t miss your chance to have a positive influence on them.
Sadly, I picture that all too famous scene of a child trying to get his parent’s attention, but the parent is too busy focusing on the other kid to notice. That child will quit the sport and missed having been empowered by you if you focus just on the 1%.
So I should not have said “I don’t care…” Really poor choice of words for someone who makes a big deal out of words!
I meant to say “I cannot just care about [that athlete], I have to care about the full 100%”.