Off-season Coaching Proposal Penalizes Hard Work

SIDELINES

November 03, 1991|By Pat O'Malley

It bothers me that we live in a society that thrives on making rulesto protect the not so ambitious, while attempting to hold back goal-setters.

Take the recommendation made by the Executive Council of the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association. It's a proposal I think violates the rights of parents and coaches who are blessed with enthusiasm and good intentions.

The Executive Council is considering asking the Board of Control to recommend to the State Department of Education to interpret the "out-of-season practice" bylaw exactly as written.

The rule states that MPSSAA member schools and coaches shall confine practice for all students or teams to their season, and a coach may not coach his highschool team beyond the sport's season.

After receiving complaintsin recent years, the MPSSAA offered an official interpretation of the rule, and it currently says, "Any individual, group or team gathering that has assembled for the purpose of instruction and is under thedirection of any member of the school coaching staff would constitute a violation."

It further adds these restrictions: "a. the team may not use a name connected with the school; b. the team may not use school uniforms or equipment; c. no more than half of the team rostermay be composed of returning varsity and junior varsity players fromthe school team; d. the team is participating in an activity sponsored by an agency outside of the school system."

The MPSSAA feels that some coaches have bent the rules and its fall newsletter, Scout, said, "Many coaches and athletic directors know of these situations yet few were willing to speak against their colleagues.

"Now, some of the state's most successful coaches are saying, 'Enough is enough!'These are not sour-grapes people, but rather coaches who have won multiple state championships in their sports."

The newsletter went on to say that the coaches want the bylaw to be strictly enforced as written and "not watered down by the MPSSAA-suggested interpretations."

In other words, NO coaching outside your school sports season.

If this ridiculous proposal fueled by envious coaches who don't want to work as hard as some others goes through, then the next recommendation ought to be that MPSSAA change its name to the "Little NCAA."

I thought people had a right to spend their time they way they seefit. I also thought high school coaches who are worth their salt arein the business to help students.

There is no greater satisfaction and reward for a coach then to have an athlete come back to say thanks for what the coach did for him. All the money in the world can't beat that feeling.

What it comes down to is do we want to help youngsters and encourage the coaches who go the extra mile to do so, or do we want to help youngsters only up to a point by bogging them downwith restrictions?

The state needs to realize that young athletesforge positive relationships out of respect with certain coaches whobecome role models. Now what's more American or healthy than that?

This recommendation would limit the amount of time a coach could spend with his athletes and would create an ugly atmosphere. We would reduce our high school coaches to walking a tightrope just as the high-profile NCAA coaches do.

If the state thinks it has problems now with coaches' bending rules, just wait and see what happens if they pass this recommendation. Coaches will be afraid to say "good morning"to their athletes for fear of instructing them on what kind of day it is.

Do we want to get to the point where coaches have to sneak around to help students while living in fear of a violation?

No question the pompous NCAA that governs college sports is swamped with investigation on top of investigation, hearings on hearings. Is that what the MPSSAA wants?

The MPSSAA phones might ring off the hook with petty complaints such as, "I saw Coach So and So showing Johnny howto improve his jump shot on the kid's backyard hoop."

And if thisrule flies, then do we also eliminate athletic classes for baseball,lacrosse and basketball, etc. that some schools have? Does the physical education teacher tape his mouth and be careful not to instruct aplayer he might have in class?

For once parents ought to have a say when the MPSSAA sets rules that do more to hinder students than help them.

I'm convinced this whole thing came about out of jealousyfor the likes of Bernie Walter, Chuck Markiewicz, a few eager soccercoaches and those coaching Amateur Athletic Union basketball, such as Bruce Springer of Broadneck and Joe Gillespie of Severna Park, and other summer hoop coaches.

Walter led his Arundel Wildcats to an unprecedented fifth state championship in baseball last spring and that came on the heels of his summer team, Mayo Post No. 226, winning the national American Legion championship.

During the summer, Walterhas a number of his players, who play for his Mayo team, within the rules, but he also has players from Old Mill who profit from the experience.

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