If a player learns to live life responsibly and at a high level of performance, he can probably learn to play football. At our first team meeting in August, with all coaches, players, and parents present, we hand out a list of team responsibilities and opportunities. We give each player two copies, one to keep and one to sign and turn in, making a commitment to the team rules.
We tell players that if they really want to play, they need to look at three points. First, we play those who want to play. Second, we play those we can trust. If you can’t go by the rules, you can’t be trusted to play, and you will not stay eligible. Third, we play those who have the skills to play.
We go over the rules with the parents present, and they become part of the support and encouragement team. What does all this have to do with evaluation? Although a player may want to play, have an opportunity to play, and earn an evaluation that will permit him to play, he still must be able to be trusted. Consequently, team rules are important. Our team rules are academic, social, and commonsense:
- Academic—go to class; go to assigned study hall or tutoring; act like somebody in class; study and let others study outside of class.
- Social—abstain from drugs and alcohol; be honest (abstain from cheat-ing, gambling, stealing).
- Commonsense—never miss or be late to practice or meetings; stay away from any place where people are doing drugs or alcohol; abstain from fighting, sexual immorality, and profanity; observe curfews; use common sense to control how you dress; wear no earrings in any team function or facility.
Those are some of our rules. I wish that everyone functioned on such a mature level that rules were unnecessary, but, realistically speaking, kids need to know where they are going and how to get there. If you don’t know where you are, you can’t get where you want to go. We try to make this clear. I believe that kids want direction.
The problem is that they see so much specious authority in society today. What they want is authentic authority. Frequently, we misinterpret behavior as a lack of discipline when the real problem is they have not seen the real deal. This is where we as coaches can have a powerful positive effect.