Do high school coaches have too much power?

I am shocked by all the power that high school coaches try to wield over the athletes that they work with.

As part of my church assignment, I am called to run a sports program in my area for men and young men.  We where finishing up our basketball season yesterday morning when one of the boys came in without his gear to play.  I asked if he was going to play to which he responded that he was not allowed.  I thought that extremely odd so I inquired why.  He explained that he had made the local high school soccer team and that he couldn’t play because of it. There are rules in place that prohibit players who play on their school team from playing church ball in the same sport.  I told him he could still play church ball according to the church rules because they are different sports.

Then he told me that he knew that, but that his high school coach made him sign a contract that he would not play any other sports while he was participating on the soccer team.

That got me to thinking about when I was in high school many moons ago.  We had to sign a similar contract.  The one that I had to sign just basically said that we weren’t allowed to ski because of the risk of injury.  I signed that contract and abided by it back then.

As I look back on it now, I don’t feel like it was something my coach should have been able to do.  I understand that he didn’t want anyone getting injured and missing games, but shouldn’t that have been something for me to decide and not be forced into?  I had no desire to hit the slopes because I was on the court 24/7, but I should have at least had the choice.

From the sound of it, this young man’s contract was much more strict than the one I had signed and something that I couldn’t have done.  I love sports and try to play as much as possible to this day.  There is no way I would’ve have been able to abide by such silly rules.

In my opinion these coaches are missing the point of what they are entrusted to do.  The purpose of high school sports is to help teach hard work, learn team concepts and help kids get scholarships.  It is not to limit them in what they can do.  If kids are not allowed to do anything else then there is a strong possibility that they will get burned out and start to hate the games they loved as children.  That is a very sad Thing when it does happen.

It is fine that coaches want their athletes to be focused on their specific sports, but they should be given the opportunity to do the other things they enjoy in their own free time.

When I see something like that it feels to me like coaches don’t trust their players to make the right decisions.  I don’t feel like that is the purpose of high school sports.  How is a player supposed to learn anything if he can’t make his own choices?

It’s time to put some of the responsibility on the kids to do what is right and not take those choices away from them.  They are never going to learn those necessary skills if someone else is always doing that for each kid!


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