Next week I start coaching my daughter's eighth-grade basketball team. I've been coaching kids' sports for years, and I have one rule for all my teams: Don't hurt the coach.
I'm a volunteer. I don't want to get clonked on the head with a ball or smacked across the back with a bat.
This year, maybe I should have a second rule: Don't sue the coach. You see, more and more parents and kids are suing coaches, even volunteer coaches. Folks are trying to get judges and courts to order things that their kids could not get on the baseball field or the basketball court or on the ice.
My girls and their parents are really nice, so I don't think they would sue me. But take a look at these cases:
* A California father sued a high school basketball coach for $1.5 million because the coach demoted his son from the school's varsity team to its junior varsity team.
* A Quebec mother sued her 14-year old son's hockey coach because the coach benched her son during an important game.
* A father sued a Canadian youth hockey organization because his 16-year-old son wasn't named league MVP.
* An Ohio parent sued a volunteer coach because his son's baseball team had a 0-15 record.
Sometimes people even go to court to try to get the scores of games changed. Just last week in Florida, people from Miami Edison High School went to court to try to turn around the school's 11-10 loss to a Palm Beach high school. Edison claimed that the referee had no reason to call the timeout with two seconds left that gave Palm Beach a chance to kick the winning field goal.
I think the people who sue coaches or who go to court to change games have everything exactly wrong about sports. They seem to think that nothing should ever go wrong when their kids play a game. Their kid should always make the team, or the game-winning catch. I guess they think that sports is supposed to be one long winning streak.
The truth is that sports isn't about winning. It's mostly about losing. Oh sure, we pay attention to the winners -- the Olympic gold medalists, the World Series hero or the Super Bowl quarterback shouting to the cameras, "I'm going to Disney World." But most teams lose. Most seasons end in disappointment or someplace short of everyone's dreams.
Think of it. In a tournament such as the NCAA men's basketball championships, 64 teams have to end their season with a loss so that one team can claim the title of being the big winner.
And that's okay. One of the biggest lessons that sports teaches kids is how to lose. In fact, I think that the biggest lesson you can learn from sports is that you have to work hard and practice hard if you want a chance to win. The toughest lesson you learn from sports is that sometimes even if you work and practice your hardest you still might not win.
Sometimes during a game or a season, things don't turn out the way you thought or dreamed they would.
But, hey, don't sue the coach.