This scenario is alive and well all over the United States, this article should call attention to people who are being discriminated against and bullied as allowed by Public Officials who are burying their head in the sand allowing improper actions to take place.
Administrators Empowered and Allowed To Create Discriminative Culture
Public officials, (Superintendents, Athletic Directors, and Coaches) all over the United States are knowingly creating environments which discriminate against the students they serve for the benefit of a “pre-selected few”.
Let the Bullying Begin
This process has been in place since “Travel Ball” was introduced and dads with time and money have been allowed to “Stack the Deck” with their kids and their pre-selected friends securing a spot on a High School roster at the age 10 or 11 years old. Travel Ball allows for a dad who is a good money manager and recruiter, no baseball credentials needed, to create a solicit the best athletes in that area with an opportunity to be on the “Futures” team.
Often encouraged and openly endorsed programs collaborate with the public officials to begin the “development” of future year’s teams. It is no secret! Frequently, one of the public official’s son’s is a participant in the program and a beneficiary of this collaboration. It is publicly assumed and known, the kids on this “pre-selected” 10 or 11-year-old travel program will be the one-day players in the High School program.
Stacking The Deck
The table is just beginning to get set for the next four or five years of “The Bullying”. All the talented kids in the area that live within that school district are solicited by this daddy coach who is tied into the High School Program. He begins to tell the families, many acting as an assumed authority of the school, his team is the future High School team.
Many High School coaches in the past have wrongfully profited from this same approach by coaching outside teams where he requires the High School students to pay and play for. Many coaches in good faith are trying to build a program and feel they are doing the right thing. However, they are not considering how they are stacking the deck and creating an environment that is unfair and illegal as a public official.
Superintendents, Athletic Directors, and Coaches are public officials who have a fiduciary responsibility to serve. They are receiving compensation in return for providing their employer, the school district, services that are equal and fair to all. They are required by law as a public official, to follow policies and procedures that are set for the betterment of the school district so that fair and equal opportunity can be presented to all they serve. How does this get compromised so easily? If you want to become a Public Official so be it, however, you cannot profit off of your position as a Public Official who governs private lessons, teams, etc.
Bullying is the reason the policies and procedures are overlooked, ignored and dismissed. A double set of standards can take place. The coach is given the power to run his/her program as they wish without the proper accountability. The Superintendent and Athletic Director allow for this to happen with no accountability. When a coach, athlete or parent questions the administration about any situation with the program that lacks accountability, the public officials take the offense and clearly bully them into going away.
Tom Cruise to Craig T. Nelson in (1983) All the Right Moves… “You just sit there in your office. A scholarship here, no scholarship there. He goes. He stays. Who in the hell gave you that power? You’re just a coach. You’re just a high school football coach. I mean you are not God! Huh? You’re just a typing teacher!
The above segment from the movie All the Right Moves is an accurate account of players who have been bullied or blackballed by a coach who does not get his way or when he is questioned. Not saying all coaches are like that, but I have seen them, they exist, and they are bad for business. When you question a well-respected coach, everyone runs to the defense of that coach and the person doing the questioning is automatically ridiculed and socially destroyed.
Tryouts? Why host tryouts? The team is already set to remember, we set that up four or five years ago with Daddy Big Bucks who just purchased us that nice new pitching machine and who paid for our Spring Break trip to Florida. Oh, ok, we are a public entity funded by public dollars and we follow this stupid process to appear fair. We will set up tryouts and have a two-day; three-hour “tryout” for 40 or more players and then we will post our final rosters. Let’s make sure to create the paper trail of subjective information that will protect us from the better players getting cut due to the politics of the program.
Believe it or not, this is what happens in schools across America. Due process, right? We offered a tryout; the player was not good enough? Here is our subjective evaluation of the player. They did not hit well enough, throw hard enough, run fast enough so they did not make the team. By the Way, let’s get Daddy Big Bucks and his best friends kids who stacked the deck years ago to “Coach” the team. I mean, they are qualified right, they have coached the futures High School Team for years and they are now qualified to coach their B Team or JV Team. Plus, we are going to be needing a new field tarp soon.
Note there are many occasions where coaches are bullied into placing a player onto a team due to various politics. If the coach allows this to happen, he/she is being bullied and has no control of their program.
The public officials without accountability who are discriminating against athletes in the school districts across America do not understand this is a scenario of discrimination against all. This is not a racial or gender topic, it is discrimination against a group of people. The group of unknowing people who had the deck stacked against them when they were not selected or invited to play on the 10-year-old High School futures travel team.
So, all the athletes that were left out and who developed in other organizations and or moved in later, what are they to do? Everyone knows the name of the organization that funnels up to the High School program. When the student-athletes realize they are not in that futures organization, they do not receive a fair opportunity. They are being discriminated against with the process of the token tryouts that take place and the baseless subjective evaluations that are given.
The collaborators are arrogant enough and have bullied so long, they do not think anyone will ever change the way things are done. The arrogance or ignorance is not an excuse for deliberate discrimination that is taking place by public officials all over the United States.
The first step in creating a solution is to a National Standard of policies and procedures that guard against conflict of interests and allow all parties to have equal access to participating in a High School athletic program. Once established, and High Schools from across the United States are challenged on their shortcomings, all schools can learn from court rulings and issues that have risen in other areas.
Every student-athlete must have benchmark sports testing completed by a third party not employed by the school district. This process creates the accountability for student-athletes, parents, administrators, and coaches to have a baseline of non-subjective information which will allow support for the best decisions that are made.
The affordable technology exists to administrate sports testing within a school district and to provide a basis that can allow for more advanced athletic development. Coaches would be judged more on how good they are at developing talent opposed to being awarded better athletes who beat inferior athletes. This process can create a basis of how well the coaches are doing their job in developing their athletes. Academic standards can be incorporated to ensure programs are weighing the importance of education in with being a good athlete.
Many coaches are “Bullied” by administration and politics that make them make decisions that they would not normally make. I think most all today’s coaches are hindered from making a difference and winning State Championships because of the pressure of who they have to put on the team due to politics. They are hindered because the deck is stacked against them. They need a job and have lessened their standards to make a higher up happy. Truth is, they are screaming for accountability but do not know what to do.
Admitting The Problems
Public Officials who are being bullied and pressured into unethical or improper behavior or who recognize a potential conflict of interest in something they have done should come forward. They should come forward and openly recognize the discrimination that has and is taking place. They should own up to involvement into something that may not be right and work towards a solution. The coaches who openly address the situation and seek proper counseling to comply with what is right should not lose their jobs. We could all learn from their experience and it would be a chance for us to grow in many ways.
Is it possible everyone will begin to confess their participation? No, however, if one does, then more will follow. If they do, they will benefit in the long run because (Please consider the state of College Basketball at this time) there is a long list of coaches who gave their hearts and souls to a school for many years who was showed no compassion or respect when it is time for them to go. They all end up getting the short end of the stick feeling no appreciation for all they gave.
Infractions that need to be addressed and if exist in your area must be stopped for equal opportunity for all.
- Daddy Coaches- If your High School program has one or multiple coaches who have a son/daughter or sons/daughters on the team there is no chance for fair and equal treatment for the program. The schools are required to budget and pay for third-party coaches who can follow policies and procedures as the school district sets. Parents cannot be allowed to coach for the sake of coaching their child. School Teachers, Administrators or Coaches who are employees of the school and who are paid by the school district and who have credentials to coach should be able to coach a team with their son/daughter on it. There is no way around this and it is another reason why sports testing should be required so there is no favoritism. The sports testing would validate decisions and would allow for better decisions to be made causing less friction.
- Coordinated Travel Programs that “Funnel” upwards to a program where any administrator, teacher or coach of the program is a participant
- The High School Coach dictates that a player cannot receive professional instruction from an outside professional or academy and must only use a specific professional or academy
- The High School Coach dictates which Summer Program you must play for and restricts you from playing for another academy team
- Does your program allow for field rental to all programs in your community? What is the policy set by the School District? Is there a program or team in your school district that can use the facilities at no expense or a lesser expense because a booster club member, administrator, coach’s son/daughter is in the program?
- Coaches cannot be allowed to coach travel teams or summer programs that have their students involved. They must commit to being a travel team coach and or a High School Coach. Travel team coaches should not be allowed to Coach in a High School program as the same discrimination takes place as stated above.
- Coaches should be required to participate in continuing education specific to the sport they coach, learning as much as possible about instructional techniques, technology, and program development.
- Do not allow a culture to be created where pre-determined teams and or processes must be followed as a condition to participate in a school funded program
- Parents, Boosters, etc. should never be allowed in the dugout or on the field
- Parents should not be allowed to come to tryouts nor to practices
The High School problem with pitching epidemics of overusing pitchers was addressed and successfully administrated throughout the United States. Coaches were forced into complying with new pitching regulations and accountability was created. This is a huge benefit for the sport and for the players who the more talented they were the less chance they were to have at pitching in college without injury.
We can fix the current problems as they have done with the National Standards for pitching. Years of abuse took place until the accountability and rules were put in place to protect the student-athletes. Many people have good intentions and there are many great coaches and families out there that want to compete and earn their spot on a team. Accountability must be standardized and put in place immediately.
Kelly Ahrens is the founder of Stars and Stripes Sports, a national sports eco-system that specializes in the athletic development and sports technology. www.starsandstripessports.com