This winter has been long, cold and interesting in many ways. I have spent a lot of time doing local high school games for boys and girls basketball on the radio. The thing I enjoy the most, aside from watching high school players work hard at a game they love to play, is reuniting with officials, coaches and administrators I have not seen for years.
I have spent the last 10 years doing NCAA Division II games and have really missed the world of high school athletics. A nice aspect of retirement is that people no longer listen to what you have to say and as a result you become a good listener. I wish I would have learned the importance of being a good listener 30 years ago.
This winter I have asked people currently involved in high school sports the same question – how is it different to be a coach, teacher, official or administrator today compared to in the past? The answer is the same in every case. The kids are still great but outside sources surrounding them have made the job more difficult.
They point particularly to social media as a daily dilemma. Three separate long-term head coaches have told me their players leave the floor immediately after a game and go right to their phones to see what people are saying about their performance in the game.
A veteran coach shared with me that someone not affiliated with the school videos every game and adds it to public media immediately. The individual offers their own opinion of the player or team performance.
Public opinion by a source uninformed of a team and/or player’s daily routine can create problems. People can believe themselves to be an authority based upon watching just a few games.
A crackpot in the local barber shop last week pontificated about how the Chiefs should run Alex Smith out of town on a rail, fire Andy Reid and sell the franchise. I am sure this is an individual who could not explain the difference between a 4-3 defense from a 3-4 defense. This guy may not even know who lines up under center.
With this type of mindset, it is easy to see the difficulty of the job of teachers, coaches and administrators in developing young athletes. Outside threats have become a daily obstacle. Statistics bear out that 99 percent of all coaches, teachers and administrators became involved in high school athletics because they really care about kids. They accept their position as key in the development of positive young lives. Many of these individuals are former students and players of mine. They are committed, dedicated and care about each athlete they coach.
The crazy notion created by some of the outside sources surrounding young athletes that teachers, coaches and administrators are is crazy, uncalled for and wrong.
Another group of individuals who get little to no respect are high school officials. As a result, young people are not going into officiating. Soon there will not be enough officials in some sports. If that happens, game over.
Teachers, coaches, administrators and high school officials are not in it for the money. They do it for two reasons – they love the kids and they love for them to become a success. A coach knows his/her team best. A classroom teacher knows and understands their students. A school administrator knows the needs of the teachers, students and coaches of a school. These individuals are involved daily with each student.
Many people remember their past as a lot tougher. The fact is, for current educators, now is a lot tougher. For all those outside sources around young students who feel compelled to offer negative opinions, perhaps retirement is in order. Perhaps they can become good listeners and learn a thing or two.
• The Chiefs put themselves in a good position by trading Alex Smith for a cornerback excellent at defending the inside receiver. They also got this year’s third-round pick from the Washington Redskins and a $15 million savings on the salary cap. However, Alex Smith was one of the key factors in returning the Chiefs franchise back to a playoff team. Before he became the starting quarterback five years ago the Kansas City Chiefs were terrible. That is not false news – it is a fact.
• My quote of the week comes from Pro Football Hall of Fame coach John Madden: “If there is a time when you’re going to be angry, then you’re going to be angry. And if you feel that way and let it go by, then you’re a phony. If I get angry, it’s for a good reason, either for action or as a reaction. The same applies when I’m happy.”
– Tim Crone, a William Chrisman High School graduate, is a former activities director and coach for Blue Springs High School and is a host of a weekly radio show, “Off the Wall with Tim Crone,” on KCWJ (1030 AM) 6 p.m. every Monday. He writes a weekly column for The Examiner. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.