In my journal today, I wrote,
“Eff booster clubs.”
Not really, but I hope a wide audience will read this
And be offended,
Which might suggest
That I should have spelled out the offensive word…
Oh, I’m sorry, I did, booster…

Sports has become a money grab.
Sports has become an image authenticator.
Sports has become so out of balance
That I’m writing this agave style
And I still believe what I’m saying.

Sports is not about the gear.
Sports is about playing a game.

Fashion is for the runway,
Community chests are for the needy
And it’s gross the EXTRA amount of money the athletic fashionistas
Want to outfit a team.
Wouldn’t it be better to donate the money to charity
Rather than some new UnderNikeAddidas whatever wear.

When did sports lose any semblance
Of being something that teaches life lessons?
I suppose when the money grabbers,
Masking as protectors of the realm of sports insanity
Decided to put a fee on this or that
So their little son or daughter might look good
Playing an effing game.

You know what looks good? Skill. Sportsmanship. Competition.

And when did volunteer coaches start getting paid?
Do I not know what volunteer means?

Please know, I coach three sports.
I played three sports in high school.
I burned out on college sports about three weeks into it.
I was an average player in all my sports,
But I love what sports can do for a person.
I don’t love what sports are doing to people.
I loathe the fundraising, especially for the trivial
Or for the few.
Special jackets, special shooting shirts, special bullshit to me.
Volunteer coaches should know the deal coming in,
There aren’t getting paid out of the school’s coffers,
So why mine?
Again, I ask, what does volunteer mean?
Shouldn’t volunteers appreciate the thank you?
Isn’t that why they volunteered?

Or are they cashing in on the money pit that sports have become?

The harsh reality is that sports only pay off for a limited few.
Great, they earned it and whatever comes their way is kudos to them,
But for the rest of the families who are living in denial or
Sort of footing the bill for the other kids, I say,
Eff that.

I’d rather have a bunch of kids in awful uniforms
Learning to play together because they understood adversity,
Commitment, and hard work, rather than getting a spot on the team
Because they got to wear the most fly gear.

So my journal was right,
At least as how I see things,
One more time, quit asking me for money.
I paid already.

Time has a way of distorting perceptions.
An athletic career is probably never
As good or bad as a retired athlete remembers,
So making comparisons to the present in the past’s context
Are sketchy at best.

I’ve been coaching for awhile now,
Really a millisecond in the life of my career
As a physical education teacher,
But it’s interesting
Thinking back to how I was as I watch my players now.

The demands on today’s players are too much.
Year round, open gyms, specialty coaches
It’s ridiculous
Because all the special stuff
Doesn’t help kids know how to play better.

I couldn’t survive in this environment.
I liked the seasons,
Winter basketball, spring and summer baseball, and
Fall was mine to piss way,
To just be a kid.

Yet, somehow I got as far as I could
With an understanding of how the games are played,
A sports IQ if you will, and yet,
As I coach today, I know there is still more to learn,
Mostly how to understand what I don’t…arrogance, egoism, delusion…

Then I think, maybe I’m carrying that baggage
Thinking I know the best way
Wanting the kids to be something they cannot be,
Wishing this wasn’t a recreational stop in their careers,
But something that brought some pride to the school.

I think about wanting to play Bruton.
I think about warring against Denbigh or
Sweating it out against Hampton and how
We tried to do right by our school coaches
So our school would be respected.

We knew when to pick and how to roll.
We understood that baseball is dynamic and
Standing around only creates an attitude of passiveness.
Whether it was coaches or players
We were together.

Then I remember some players
Who rode the drama train when they didn’t get what they wanted
And they turned on the coaches or teammates
Robbing us of whatever unity
We worked so hard to build.

Now I see
Then was not so different than now
I understand how time smooths the rough edges
Yet I can’t shake the idea that I can coach “as we should be,”
Not allowing the existing culture that so many are willing to accept.

The turnaround starts when kids carry equipment.
The attitude changes when kids drop the comebacks after being coached.
Hustling, making the correct play, dropping the stat line,
All of these things matter.
Helping the kids understand that is the hard part of coaching.

Looking back,
I think my coaches made those priorities.
They all had their way, but togetherness, team pride, and accountability
All rose from the standards that they set out.
Those lessons mattered more than my launch angle at the plate or a three on the court.

The time has come for some Coach Jones confrontation.
The controversial one once took a cocky white boy to the side and said,
“Son, you look disrespectable.”
Maybe this was the wrong word, a malapropism, but the message was clear,
“Get your shit together and represent your team correctly.”

It took me “being me” to learn the lesson the hard way,
But I got the message because my coach helped me to understand.
My talent level didn’t change, but my attitude about what it meant to be an athlete did.
Perhaps we need a little of that Melvin mental chiropractic adjusting
To align some of our pasts with the curvature disorders of the present.

I sure hope my coaches remember me as a team player.
I hope they remember me listening to them.
I want my teammates to have thought me a good teammate,
Better yet, a friend, someone they could count on
To be in the right place at the right time.

Ah, that what then…