Off the field

Coaches: Keeping complaining parents in line could keep high school teachers on the sideline.

February 16, 2000

WANT to be a high school athletics coach? Unfortunately, here's your chance. Schools near and far are having a tough time finding coaches for varsity and junior varsity teams. Increasingly, teachers are shunning these jobs, and it's no wonder.

The positions pay stipends amounting to less than minimum wage. Head coaches and assistant coaches are routinely second-guessed and pelted with whiny rants from parents. That's too bad, because everyone loses when teachers don't want to coach.

All coaching applicants from outside the system go through a screening process, but there are reasons that athletic directors prefer to hire from within. Teachers have gone through staff development training that better equips them to deal with groups of children, communication is easier and those who coach where they teach can push student-athletes on the field and in the classroom.

Many earn enduring respect from students and parents when they teach sportsmanship and instill character. Schools must do everything they can to recruit and retain teachers as coaches.

They should require student-athletes and their parents to meet with coaches before the season begins to set ground rules.

Parents usually are required to sign written agreements, but the message doesn't always get through. Schools have to make sure it does. Parents deserve to have input, but schools must persuade them to voice their concerns in a respectful manner.

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