Parents: It’s not about you

I wrote this piece about Landon Collins six years ago. It bears a striking resemblance to what Jacob Copeland went through with his mom on Wednesday. It appears Collins made the right decision. He’s now a safety for the New York Giants and is doing well. Hopefully, the same thing happens for Jacob Copeland.

Geismar (La.) Dutchtown High School safety Landon Collins announced his college choice last week during the Under Armor High School Football All America Game. The New Orleans native had narrowed his decision to two schools – Louisiana State University (LSU) and the University of Alabama. In the video below, Collins discusses the process he went through and ultimately announces his decision.

It’s not about us as adults. This young man has done well enough on and off the field to have his choice of the two schools playing for college football’s national championship. He chose Alabama. So, what? Collins will get an education. His games will be on national television and I’m sure pro scouts already have him on their radar. However, his mother is acting as if someone just stole her bike. She even starts cheering for the school he didn’t choose.

When Dari Nowkhah of ESPN asked Collins about the LSU fan reaction back home, did you catch what he said? “…I guess she’ll still supports me.” While Nowkhah asked about fans in general, Collins’ answer was specific. He only cares that his mom supports him and it’s clear she does not. Other family members come in toward the end to hug him, but the hurt on the young man’s face is evident. Parents, it’s about what’s best for the kids. Whether they’re playing Division I football or they’re the back-up linebacker on their middle school team, we are the support system.

Never should a kid feel alone when sitting next to his mother. Our kids should always feel like they are the greatest gift we were ever given.  I’ve heard parents say they’d run through a brick wall for their son or daughter. Well, sometimes they don’t need that. Sometimes, they just need a hug.


Do coaches have too much power?

If the John Jay (San Antonio) High School story is true from the kids’ perspective, then coaches have way too much power. In case you’re not up-to-speed, here’s the latest from CBS Sports in the video below (email subscribers click here to view media).

I’m having a really hard time believing the kids in this case. Why? Because kids these days don’t listen to their parents, teachers, police officers, or any other adult authority figure. And that’s when we’re telling them to do the right thing.

Seriously, replace the coach in this situation with the kids’ dads. What if their fathers had told them to attack the referee? Would they have done it without complaint or protest? They probably would have talked about not wanting to get kicked off the team, out of school or disappoint mom.

Please don’t forget that the coach in question was an assistant as well. It’s hard to believe the kids would risk the wrath of the head coach by listening to the clearly wrong and likely illegal orders of the easily replaceable assistant.

This story involves a lot of people shirking personal responsibility. High school kids know it’s wrong to attack people — especially adults in authority. Coaches know it’s wrong to order kids to attack people — especially adults in authority. Knowing your role applies when assuming the position of coach, athlete, fan or official. It’s also about knowing the role all of us play, everyday: Human being.

Florida coach shows poor leadership in sideline tirade

Florida running back Kelvin Taylor made the infamous throat slash gesture after scoring a touchdown against East Carolina University on Saturday. Of course, the gesture was selfish and cost his team. Taylor should have been reprimanded by his coach. However, Florida head coach Jim McElwain should not have reprimanded him the way he did. Have a look at the video below (email subscribers click here to view media).

In an interview on The Dan Le Batard Show Monday morning, Kelvin’s dad and former NFL running back, Fred Taylor said that McElwain’s tirade was “a bit much.” The elder Taylor, after listening to the audio, objected to McElwain challenging his son’s manhood. The audio will not be provided here as it contains several profanities.

What McElwain did is not coaching. It’s not teaching. The throat slash gesture is meant to taunt and embarrass an opponent. The gesture is meant to make them feel worse about a situation they already feel bad about.

McElwain’s tirade did the same thing. When the referee threw the flag for unsportsmanlike conduct, Kelvin Taylor knew he had messed up. Questioning his manhood and belittling him in front of his teammates is exactly what he did to East Carolina. Instead of correcting selfish, classless behavior, McElwain reinforced it.

He should have pulled Taylor to the side and reminded him of the consequences of the behavior and discussed why it shouldn’t be done. He could have done so without a crowd of teammates and TV cameras.

Pulling Taylor to the side diffuses the situation. He probably would have listened to his coach and learned not to repeat the mistake. Instead, McElwain’s enraged performance ensured everyone was listening to him except Taylor.

Attitude reflects leadership. Coaches have to model the behavior they expect from their players. Yelling and cursing doesn’t work and only serves as evidence that you have nothing productive or intelligent to say.

HS football players attack referee during game

This is one of the worst things I’ve ever seen in sports (email subscribers click here to view media).

The video speaks for itself. It was a heinous and cowardly act by these kids and they honestly should never play football again.

Some will wonder what the referee did to them. Maybe he said something. Maybe there was a bad call. Who cares? Everyone has a role in sports and a place in life. Kids should know theirs.

The kids shown here never even tried to engage in the play. It’s awful and if the legal system needs to be involved, then, oh well. Referees are an indispensable part of sports. Although the behavior of some indicates otherwise, referees are not court jesters. They are not here for our entertainment.

Reports have confirmed the players are from John Jay (San Antonio) High School. Where they’re from doesn’t matter except for context. What should concern everyone is that leagues across the country are experiencing referee shortages due to athlete, coach and parent behavior.

Referees love sports, but they’re not going to sign up to get double-teamed by the kids. This behavior toward officials has to stop or don’t be surprised when the games do.

HS football team sparks controversy after mass baptism

Sports and religion have had an up-and-down relationship over time. Up in that prominent athletes and coaches of strong faith are often great role models for our kids and tremendous servant-leaders for our communities. Down in that public expressions of faith are primarily one-sided and come off as dismissive of other faiths and points of view.

Additionally, someone’s faith is personal. Sports, however, are a very public part of American society. They’re played in taxpayer-funded schools, parks, and arenas. To that end, the Villa Rica (Ga.) High School football team is in some hot water after the coach and a local pastor led a mass baptism on school grounds before a team practice in mid-August. 
Here’s a report on the controversy from CBS News (email subscribers click here to view media).

You can’t do this. It’s inappropriate and out-of-order on multiple levels. First, coaches have the same rights and responsibilities as teachers in a school setting. Your child’s math teacher can’t conduct a mass baptism during third hour. His football coach can’t conduct one during practice, either. People of every belief system fund school activities through their taxes. It’s disrespectful and probably illegal to conduct a religious ceremony that represents one sect of one faith on what’s essentially their property.

No, I’m not an atheist. I’m a Christian. More to the point, I’m Baptist, much like the Villa Rica coach and the local pastor. I also understand that kids are impressionable and easily led. At our church, children who want to get baptized have to first talk with church leaders. Parents are there as well to make sure the kids know what they’re getting into.

I don’t know any kid who doesn’t like to get dunked in the water — especially if 20 of their friends are doing it too. You have to make sure the kids know baptism is not a group cannonball. If the coach and pastor were so sure they were doing the right thing, they should have notified the parents and the school of what they were going to do.

Again, things have to be done decently and in order. Besides, when was the last time you went to church and participated in a football practice before services? Yeah, me neither.