I'm being blackmailed
This is instructional football, to give the boys a leg up when it comes time to try out for a team in junior and senior high. I signed Kevin up, believing that he would be taught to play and understand the game, and that he would be given equal opportunity to play during games. I never expected him to play the whole game, and I do understand that coaches have a "WIN!!" attitude that influences their roster more so that giving all of the kids the chance to play and make a difference during games. Unfortunately, youth sports have gotten so competitive that teaching has taken a backseat; only winning matters. Keep in mind my son is only EIGHT years old. He's a CHILD, a fact that is apparently overlooked by youth football.
Here's the deal:
Last year was Kevin's first year on the team. It was a learning year, to be sure. He was one of the youngest on the team, had no experience other than watching the Bungles on tv or playing pass in the backyard, and kept getting flipped all over the field, between offense and defense. He was so confused about what his job was (blocking vs. tackling), he just never "got it". The team was also made up of 7 and 8 year olds.
This year, things were supposed to be different. They separated the team- one 7 and one 8 team, which should have resulted in more playing time in and of itself. Coach M said he could have a dedicated defense and offense this year, and that the coaches were all excited about the year and the changes they were going to put in place. I was very excited as well, because it seemed like things were really taking a positive turn. I'm no longer excited, if you can't tell.
Kevin hasn't been playing much. He was put on starting offense, but was taken out of the game after just a play or two for the first two games. He wasn't doing anything wrong (more so than any of the other boys), but he was being taken out. I asked Coach M about the dedicated offense and defense, and he said "No, I just said we would have a dedicated STARTING offense and defense." Apparently "starting offense" means that you START the game, but don't FINISH the game. Since this was an email conversation, I rolled my virtual eyes, and let it go. Next game, Kevin only played a few plays the entire game. This trend has continued now for three weeks.
There are probably 6 kids (out of 20) that sit out the majority of the games, about 6 kids that never come OUT of the game, and the rest funnel in and out throughout the whole game. It's heartbreaking to see him so syked up about PLAYING football, only to NOT play football, so I asked Coach M why Kevin hasn't been playing much, and what he needs to do to change that. I pointed out that I paid a lot of money for him to PLAY football; not WATCH football, and that this is instructional ball for eight year old kids. When we're down 20-nothing in the 4th, there's no reason the benchwarmers can't play- they're certainly not going to cause us to lose the game. I also told him that we have kids that are playing the whole game who are faking injuries just to be able to sit out. I was blunt, but not rude.
The reply ranged from "He does not understand or want to follow instructions" to "Yes, I do care about winning. I am not going to teach boys to accept losing", both of which have some truth to them. Kevin is a true blonde. If you've read any of my "Kevinisms" posts, you'll know that I recognize his "duh" factor. But that does not mean he is not listening, and is openly defiant about not following instructions. He just takes a lot of reinforcement of the same set of instructions which he hasn't been getting. Each coach has a different idea of what he should be doing and they each tell them what they want him to do, then the next coach comes along and changes it again. How confusing, eh?? It's no wonder he "doesn't understand" if each coach has a different set of instructions!
Coach M also said "I have told all the boys esp after the last game that I will play anyone that is ready to play and wants to be in there." That is simply not true, because if it was true, Kevin wouldn't be sitting out the majority of the games.
We also have one assistant coach, whose wife is a Board member, who is completely disrespectful to the boys. Last week he wasn't happy with their aggressiveness at the end of Thursday's practice. He yelled out to his Board member wife, 'HEY BONNIE! Do you have any skirts in the truck? I need some skirts for these GIRLS out here!'. Nice. This is only the most recent example of his negative, degrading, insulting, and humiliating behaviors. But Coach M hasn't done anything about it, so he apparently supports negative reinforcement. What a great message. Has anyone ever really been motivated to do better after receiving nothing but NEGATIVE reinforcement? uh. no.
Here's the part that REALLY got my hackles up though:
We have a number of boys that practice very hard and understand winning.... It is also not fair to the boys that work hard to have the game lost by other boys that do not understand or play with same aggressions.
So what you're saying is that not all the boys practice hard and understand winning. I'm throwing the bullshit card on that one, Coach. EVERY kid on our team works their ass off at practice, and they all understand winning. How can you say they don't all work hard, when you drive them into the ground for two hours, three nights a week? Hell, how can they NOT understand winning when they get their asses chewed out for LOSING? And considering that we've lost the last three games, with the same core group of kids on the field, are you in turn saying that those boys didn't work hard enough, or understand winning? I don't think so. How insulting.
After reading his reply, I was FURIOUS. I replied, and he said that he didn't want to continue the conversation 'electronically' and to let him know when I was ready to talk about it in person. That means he doesn't want it in writing, and wants to talk to me about it after practice. I don't stick around after practice for ANYTHING on a school night. Practice doesn't end until 8 or 8:15, and then I have to get dinner, homework, and baths done before the kids can go to bed. It's LATE- sticking around after practice only makes it later, so why not use email as a communication tool? I'd show up early, except that I have a hard time making it to practice by 6:30 as it is. Besides, email lets me put my thoughts on paper, in logical order, as opposed to a heated verbal conversation like this one was gearing up to be.
Then the organization sent out a parent satisfaction survey today, so I replied honestly, and printed off our email conversation. I knew no one on the board, or the parents on the team, would believe what I said Coach M told me. I have talked to, and emailed, other parents, who have all agreed that things are messed up and need to be fixed. Those same parents asked to read our email exchange (I brought a copy to attach to my parent survey to back up some of the things I said in the survey). I obliged, and they were as outraged as I was.
But after practice I got a call from Coach M who told me that if I continue to be "disruptive", Kevin will be taken off the roster. He said that several parents told him that I was showing the email around. I told him I was, at their request, and that I only discussed it with parents who asked to read it.
Which brings me back to the title of the post.
I'm being blackmailed. Keep your mouth shut, or your son will suffer the consequences.
How fucked up is that?
So, because my son wants to play, I will keep my mouth shut, and I'll keep my opinions to myself, because I want to protect my son's right to play. I have no voice, but I do have a blog, and I will write when I have to get things out. I just can't talk about it. What a fucked up situation.