THE AD'S CORNER
Welcome to the AD's Corner where I hope to answer some of the frequently asked questions about high school athletics. This section is designed to provide a broad picture of the athletic process and help parents more fully enjoy their role in the athletic experiences of their children.
1. What are the pros and cons of “equal playing time” and at what age is it no longer an issue?
Children at the introductory level of sports programs get equal opportunity and approximate equal playing time. By the time they reach the middle school age, the equal-playing time debate should end. Some children have more natural ability and some practice more intently to develop athletic abilities. Those students with superior skills are rewarded with more playing time. There is a reason for keeping score. In the process of assessing capabilities, all students will not receive the same academic grades; all students will not receive the same amount of stage time in plays; and all athletes will not receive an equal amount of playing time in sports.
2. Most schools have try-outs resulting in students being cut from the team. Do educators realize how traumatic this experience can be for youngsters?
Prior to each sport season, I meet with our coaches to discuss a range of issues pertaining to the upcoming season. One of those issues relates to “the selection of teams”. Our coaches are reminded to structure the try-out experience to minimize the disappointment the students feel. During this meeting we discuss a “team selection procedure” that minimizes the negative impact for the student who fails to make the team. Our “squad-cut policy” includes, but is not limited to (1) an honest and open discussion of the skills needed to compete in the sport, (2) an explanation of the approximate size of the squad, (3) the number and dates of try-out sessions, and (4) a personal conversation with each youngster not making the team in lieu of a publicly posted “cut list”. Parents and students should understand that team composition must be considered. For example, a football coach cannot keep fifteen (15) 150 pound running backs, or a basketball team ten (10) 5’8” point guards, regardless of how good they may be. There are other factors to be considered in assessing the talents for the other positions. Not everyone makes the team and coaches sometimes make mistakes in their evaluations. However, it is my opinion that every coach makes an honest effort to select the best players available to create the right climate for a successful “team”.
3. What are the benefits of sport participation as claimed by sport advocates?
We have all heard of the benefits of participating in sports. Any activity that creates a situation for children to interact with others, help build character and prepare participants to meet life challenges should be encouraged. Athletics provides the opportunity for many good things to take place, but these things are not automatic. The rewards occur when the individual sees the gap closing between present abilities and her potential. She then recognizes the benefits of commitment, of following instructions, practicing skill development, working hard to achieve a goal, playing by the rules, self discipline and role-playing as it relates to the needs of the group. The greatest outcome from participating in athletics is the blueprint it leaves on the individual to follow in living experiences beyond the athletic arenas. The athletic experience will encourage an individual to become a more involved citizen and a more well-rounded adult who seeks the answer to the larger questions: “How can I help others, and what can I do for my family, my church and my community?”
4. Should I be concerned with the increase in violence in sports?
You bet! We should all be concerned about the increase in violence, both in society and athletics. In the sports arena there seems to be two (2) major areas of concern: violence by players and violence by fans. Both can be addressed at the same time. The East Penn School District, the Lehigh Valley Interscholastic Athletic Conference and the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association have established proactive measures that specify acceptable rules of sportsmanship, acceptable athletic behaviors and ultimate consequences for their violation. Coaches, players and officials attend mandatory preseason meetings to review the concepts of good sportsmanship and fair-play. In addition, parents are encouraged to attend a preseason meeting hosted by the athletic office, read and sign an “Athletic Code of Conduct/Cautionary Statement” and become familiar with the “Parent/Coach Communication Plan” which is distributed to athletes at the start of each season. Finally, prior to the start of each athletic contest, every member of the Lehigh Valley Conference reads a prepared statement that offers a clear warning and subsequent consequences for violators of the standard of good sportsmanship. Then, we hire police and teachers to serve as security and give them the authority to enforce these standards. It is not an easy task, but one the East Penn School District takes very seriously.
5. Will participation in sports help my child’s self-esteem?
There is no definite answer to this question. Self-esteem is defined as “pride in oneself…self respect”. When an athlete works hard to develop a skill and can successfully apply it, she develops self-esteem. She feels good about herself and her accomplishment. In another situation, if an athlete does little to develop his skills, makes constant errors, and is embarrassed with his play, it will be unlikely for him to develop self-esteem. Self-esteem comes at a steep price. There’s no easy or magical way to acquire it. It’s ultimately up to each athlete to determine for himself how, or even if he is to attain his personal self-esteem.
6. Does playing multiple sports help an athlete during recruiting?
“The first questions I’ll ask about a kid are, “What other sports does he play? What does he do? What are his positions? Is he a big hitter in baseball? Is he a pitcher? Does he play hoops?” All of these things are important to me. I hate that kids don’t play three sports in high school. I think that they should play year-round and get every bit of it that they can through that experience. I really, really don’t favor kids having to specialize in one sport. Even here, I want to be the biggest proponent of two-sport athletes on the college level. I want guys that are so special athletically, and so competitive, that they can compete in more than one sport." Former University of Southern California Head Football Coach , Pete Carroll
“My trick question to young campers is always, ”How do you learn the concepts of team offense in lacrosse or team defense in lacrosse in the off-season, when you’re not playing with your team? The answer is by playing basketball, by playing hockey and by playing soccer and those other team games, because many of those principles are exactly the same. Probably 95 percent of the [time], our [players] are multi-sport athletes. It’s always a bit strange to me if somebody is not playing other sports in high school. I’m always telling [young players] to play other sports, because there’s nothing in our sport that you’re doing in the off-season that’s of greater value than going to football practice every day or going to soccer practice every day. For young guys – especially those seventh, eighth, ninth, 10th graders – it’s a little early to decide that you’re not going to be a football player. I don’t think they need to be doing that yet.” University of Virginia Men’s Lacrosse Coach, Dom Starsia
“I think it’s important for an athlete to have more than one skill. If somebody is a great pole vaulter, that’s great. But somebody that’s a great triple jumper is much more versatile for us. A sprinter is more than likely going to be able to do two events, whether it’s a short sprinter or a long sprinter. A distance runner is going to do indoor track, outdoor track and cross country. Versatility becomes important when, on the men’s side, [I’m] looking at 12 scholarships and [I’m] trying to divide them up between those areas. If somebody’s a one-event athlete, then he needs to be really uniquely talented.”
University of Florida Track & Field Coach, Bob Braman
If you have any questions that you would like addressed, please email them to Dennis Ramella at firstname.lastname@example.org
Note: The questions and answers in this section have been taken from 99 Answers For The Sport Parent by Mel Roustino and adapted to fit our individual situations in the East Penn School District. Its intent is to offer answers to some of the frequently asked questions in athletics in order to enable parents to enjoy their role and have the opportunity to provide their children with the experiences they all anticipate.