Why would anyone want to be a coach? I can't understand it for the life of me anymore.
All the positives that come with impacting the youth of America just aren't worth the headaches. By headaches I mean parents - not all, but some - and the entitled youth of this generation.
I always promised myself I'd never be one of those "when I was your age" types of people who looked back fondly on their past as if it was the golden age of infallible human beings. I know my generation had its problems. For heaven's sake, it was when I was in middle school and high school that the fascination with a Goth lifestyle came to be with the ever-infuriating words and guitar riffs from Marilyn Manson. Feel free to hold that one against my generation.
But I did come from a generation - and mind you, my diploma from Bloomsburg High School was printed in 2001 - where kids and parents didn't throw a hissy-fit every time something didn't go their way. There were plenty of players on my varsity baseball team who felt we should be playing more, me being one of them. To me, that was a message I needed to do something to get better.
Spend extra time in the hitting cage. Spend extra time taking ground balls. Utilize my time on the practice field as efficiently as possible. Did it work? No. I think I made 11 plate appearances on the varsity baseball team as a senior. Never once did my parents feel the need to approach Lanny Sheehan or Jim Dodge and complain that I wasn't being given my opportunity
This brings me to the situation Randy Boone is dealing with as head football coach at Montgomery. I couldn't help but shake my head the more and more I learned about why nearly half of his football team walked out of practice last week.
For something like that to happen, there had to be a complaint being levied against Boone that bordered on gross mistreatment. Imagine my surprise when I received a phone call and was told the worst of the problems players were having is that Boone was playing favorites and that players weren't being given the opportunity to try out for positions they wanted to, along with a player being forced to do extra running as a punishment at practice.
I had to stifle a bit of laughter when I heard that.
Breaking news: this isn't midget or pee wee football or Little League Baseball anymore, folks. There's no guaranteed playing time that comes with participating in interscholastic athletics. There is a goal to win once you get to high school. Winning should not be the be-all, end-all in high school sports, but it needs to be a focus.
You have coaches who are winning and losing jobs with every win and every loss. And it is every head coach's and assistant coach's responsibility to the school and the students to put the best possible team on the field that gives them the best possible chance to win. And that includes putting players in the position they feel best optimizes their chance to win.
Boone is going to do that tonight with or without the players who decided to walk off the team, and he should be commended for that. Because for all that is being said about him, and for as much as his character is being attacked, he's unable to defend himself publicly.
He clearly has the backing of the administration at Montgomery, or else he wouldn't be coaching when the Red Raiders open their football season tonight at Cowanesque Valley with just 21 players on their roster according to maxpreps.com.
In all honesty, I shouldn't be surprised an uprising like this has happened. In fact, the only surprise should be that an uprising like this hasn't happened sooner.
We've become a society where appeasing a child's supposedly fragile psyche has become more important than teaching life lessons. The lessons that should be taught are it's OK to not be a starter in sports as long as you're working your hardest to contribute in any way imaginable.
Instead we've become a society where winning, having fun and enjoying the game isn't nearly as important as whether or not little Johnny had his ego stroked and his fragile psyche sustained. It's all a part of this new-found policy in youth sports that everyone gets a trophy regardless of if you won or lost.
The lesson we should be teaching is that winning is great, but it is also OK to lose as long as you lose with class, you've tried your hardest, you hustled and you left everything you had on the field.
But guess what, you don't even have a chance to be a winner if you're not on the field. We've lost sight of that in this society as athletes and as parents. We've become a greedy society where getting an opportunity to play and contribute just isn't good enough, we all must be the superstar. We all must be the band's front man. Nobody wants to be the bass player who gets lost in the background but still helps create a memorable sound.
Look at the teams that have success in the area, heck, look at the two teams from Montgomery that reached the state finals in the last three years. Each and every player on those teams had a defined role on that team in order to give it the best possible opportunity to go as deep in the playoffs as possible. The players harnessed those roles, made them their own, and created teams that came just one out away from winning a state title.
But we've lost sight of what's important. We've lost sight that football isn't about who scores touchdowns, who throws passes, who makes tackles and who gets interviewed after the game. Football, and any other sport, is about learning who you are as a person, enjoying the bus rides to and from games, enjoying the camaraderie that comes with spending months on end with friends and teammates to obtain a common goal.
It's clear that certain players and parents in Montgomery have lost sight of just that. And why anybody would volunteer to be a coach and potentially have to deal with that, is beyond me.
Mitch Rupert is a Sun-Gazette sports writer. He can be reached at 326-1551, ext. 3129, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.