More thoughts on fair play

Sorry to get on the ol’ high horse again but this week I learned of an incident that really illustrates the importance of teaching the right values to our teams (and our children). In this case it wasn’t the coach who failed but the player, which put the coach in the position of having to make a tough decision.

It wasn’t softball either, but wrestling at the high school level. The team’s best wrestler decided he didn’t want to go to practice one day, so he said he had a doctor’s appointment, likely left school early, and went to the Shedd Aquarium in downtown Chicago. As usually happens, the coach found out about it and brought the young man into his office to ask about it. Unfortunately, the kid decided to stick to the lie and the coach bounced him from the team — the week of the conference meet, and the week before Regionals. It could not have been an easy decision. Losing this boy will cost the team points for sure. They’re forfeiting his weight this week. Yet lying to the coach, even when you’re given an opportunity to make things right, is against the team rules.

So what does this have to do with softball? Here’s the point. You teach your players it’s ok to leave the base early because the umpires probably won’t catch you. You teach them to stand in the basepath to force baserunners to go around because you might get them out and the umpires probably won’t catch them. You teach them to intentionally interfere with the catcher making a throw because the umpire probably won’t catch them. Then one day you find out a player lied about her whereabouts for practice or a tournament because she wanted to go to a concert, or on a date with her boyfriend, and you get all mad that she was dishonest with you. But what message have you been giving her all season? That it’s ok to break the rules to gain an advantage — because you probably won’t get caught.

In the case of the wrestling coach he has taught his guys to play by the rules, which is likely what angered him at being lied to. But if you’re a softball coach who subscribes to the “if you ain’t cheatin’ you ain’t tryin'” school, don’t be surprised if one day it comes back around to bite you.

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