Tag Archives: Sports Perspective

Sports Jaded

I feel like going full-out Charlie-Brown-getting-the-football-pulled-out-from-under-him screaming rage right now.

AAARRRGGGHHHH!!!!!!!!

I am so disappointed in myself.

I can’t believe I’ve come to this point with sports.

I can’t believe I’ve become so jaded.

What happened?

Today, my son sent a text message informing me Bob Stoops was stepping down as the head football coach at Oklahoma.

My immediate reaction is what worried me. My first, second, third, fourth, and probably fifth thoughts all revolved around some form of the question. “What did he do?”

You see? Jaded.

When did I start looking at the dark side first? Have I just seen so many wrongs in the sports business that I cannot, or will not, even look for the positive first?

Apologies to Coach Stoops. 18 years at the University of Oklahoma after digging the Sooner Schooner out of the muck pit it was in for almost a decade. After a national title, three more appearances in the title game, consistently performing at ridiculously high expectations from the fan base each and every season, you deserve to go out on your own terms. Even if there are some sinister reasons for the retirement, I should not immediately go to that dark place.

You don’t deserve a schmuck like me automatically think the worst of you.

I’m going to make a concerted effort to start thinking sports-positive again. Life is too short, as are the seasons of sport. That way, if something like a negative reason for Coach Stoop’s sudden retirement eventually comes to light, I am forced by the facts to lean toward a  jaded way of thought.

Think positive, Hays.

  • Sports are awesome.
  • More good than bad.
  • More right than wrong.
  • No reason to be grumpy, old man out of the gate.
  • No need to be sports jaded. 

Positive first. Always.

By U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class Damon J. Moritz. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Eyes On One Another

Everybody knows the basics of what a good sports coach does. Organization, planning, strategy, motivation, and discipline are just a few traits of a solid coach. There’s also one very important factor of a successful team that a coach can only sow the seed of. 

It’s the peer to peer drive to get better.

The standard the players hold each other to in getting better every day.

The accountability to do the job you are supposed to do, to be where you should be, and to make the team better by your presence.

It’s the individual push in a player’s mind to not let his teammates down.

But unless the players accept this seed the coach has planted and grow it, they will never reach their full potential.

The really great teams I’ve been around had this trait within their ranks. They got on each other’s case about missed assignments, missed workouts or missed efforts, and did it in a positive (well, as positive as high school boys can be) way. In short, the players needed to keep an eye on each other and realize others were keeping an eye on them.

Peer to peer drive is what makes great teams. They don’t allow each other to fail. They don’t allow each other to slide. They keep the standard high and they keep the train on the track.

It’s a thing of beauty when it is chugging down the rails, believe me. An ugly, chocolate-mess-that-never-even-gets-close-to-fulfilling-their-team-potential when it struggles down the track.

How does a coach sow the seeds?

Number one, almost everything you do needs to be done in an environment where the players can actually get their eyeballs on one another.

A single session for off-season workouts and conditioning sessions. Everybody needs to be there and everybody needs to see who is there doing the work, who is there slacking off, and who did not even show up. Players learn from these sessions who they can count on as teammates. All the frigging movie nights, dinners, campfire sing-alongs, are wasted time if the players don’t find out who they can count on when the caca hits the fan. When the going gets tough, who can I count on to get going with me?

Two. You have to set up an organization that allows the players to work out their issues while within a safe environment for everybody. This means feelings will get hurt, egos will get stomped into the ground, and kids may even argue or fight. The players need to work these things out without going overboard. They need to learn to develop trust with the people they will stand side-by-side with during competition.

Three. Give the players a sense of ownership. As a coach, you are the person in charge. No questions should ever be asked about who is the king of the castle. This should be established from day one, hour one, minute one. But the goal is to be the leader, not the dictator. Have a plan, have a philosophy but be willing to listen and incorporate input from the players who are actually out playing the game. If you’ve done your job right teaching them the game, they will be able to analyze problems and help with solutions. A sense of ownership goes a long way in team-building.

Whether you are a coach or a player, you can do the little things to help your squad live up to its potential.

Be reliable and demand reliability.

Be accountable and demand accountability.

Work hard and demand the same from your peers.

Do your job and demand others to do theirs.

Enjoy the game and enjoy playing with your peers.

Keep your eyes on the prize.

Keep your eyes on one another.

Unruh from scoreboard

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Going Pro

I’ve had a lot of my athletes go pro. Seriously, look it up. It’s absolutely true.

It’s just that none of them have gone pro playing sports.

They are professionals, nonetheless.

  • Farmers
  • Ranchers
  • Teachers
  • Soldiers
  • Engineers
  • Park rangers
  • Firemen
  • Pilots
  • EMT’s
  • Doctors
  • Coaches
  • Landscapers
  • Linemen
  • Mechanics
  • Recreation specialists
  • Nurses
  • Construction workers
  • Fence builders
  • Bankers
  • Salesmen
  • Laborers
  • Entrepreneurs

And the list goes on and on.

They are successes in their own stories.  They make me proud to have been their coach. No win, no matter how big it seemed at the time, matches the joy of observing these young men as husbands, fathers, and fine adult citizens.

I’ve coached kids who were (are) borderline brilliant. I’ve coached kids who had many adults in their teenage lives who thought they were borderline criminals. Except for a few rare outliers, I liked them all. Except for a few outliers, I believed in them and believed ALL of them would grow up (eventually) to become fine adults. They have.

Sports are great. Enjoy them while you still have the opportunity to participate. Compete within yourself to be the best you that you can be. But, please, please, please, never forget sports are a first step in your developing life, not the last step.

It gets better from here. I know this may be hard to believe, but it’s true.

Trust me on this one, kids.

800px-NFL_Draft_2010_stage_at_Radio_City_Music_Hall
mockdraft

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Football is NOT Life: Reprise 2014

I  wrote the blog post, Football is NOT Life, in 2010. I was two years out of my bad breakup with football coaching. The obsession with coaching the sport was waning and life, my real, actual life was beginning to seep back into its position of dominance in my psyche. It’s hard to explain if you’ve never experienced it. Football coaching, coaching in general, has a tendency to take over the way one thinks.

How would I block this play against this front? If they shift into this formation, how will our defense adjust?

Everything football all the time. Every day, all year long, probably 50% on average of all my thought processes circled back to football. That percentage probably jumped to 80% during the season. Analysis of every, single detail to find a way to be better. Every day.

Devising not only a Plan A and a Plan B, but a Plan C through Z also, just in case.

I wrote this mostly for me. I was the guilty party. I needed to put this on paper and post it to always remind me, Football is not life, life is life.

I am also re-posting the original blog piece for you.  You know, you folks out there who have let things slip out of focus. The ones who are half crazed with the emotion and the frustration and the disappointment associated with sports, especially when things are heading south in a hurry.

Everybody wants to win, it is written in the marrow of our bones. However, not everybody can win and we need to remind ourselves there are worse things in life than losing a game of football, no matter how much it hurts.

Respect the kids and respect the coaches. Respect the work and effort everyone invests, no matter how disappointing the outcome is. Use games and sports to build character in our young people, not to expose poor character.

Please read this post and think about it.  If it helps, then pass it on to the next person before we adults take all the fun out of this great game.

 

(originally posted on September 21, 2010)

FOOTBALL IS NOT LIFE 

I know this may sound highly irrational and maybe even a bit hypocritical coming from me, but contrary to what the t-shirts say, FOOTBALL IS NOT LIFE!.

Football is the greatest damn game ever invented, but it is not life.  Football is intensity, competitiveness, sportsmanship and violence, but it is not life.  Football requires immense strategy and teamwork, but it is not life.  Football provides education, drama, entertainment, and a solidarity which binds communities, campuses and fan bases throughout the nation, but it is not life.  Football is universal, it is played by presidents and paupers, genius and idiot, big and small, aggressive and passive, rich and poor, but it is not life.  Football should not be all consuming.  Football should not be the top priority.  I know this for a fact, I have tripped and fallen down this hole before (see my story).

Football can be like a package of Oreos, both need to be consumed in moderation.  You’ve been there, you opened the package of Oreos and left it out on the counter.  Sooner, rather than later, the whole package is gone and you don’t feel so good.  But if you open that package and only take a couple of Oreos and place the package in the cupboard for a later date, they not only taste spectacular, but last and satisfy for days upon days.  Football is not life.  It should be taken in moderation and/or with a tall glass of milk, (1% or skim preferably).

Football has it’s proper place, it has it’s proper perspective. Football is not the primary reason for the existence of high schools, colleges and universities.

Yes, football is important.  It is important to compete.  It is important to work hard to be the best coach or player you can be.  It is important to compete with purpose, pride and passion.  But I think Coach Paul Lane said it best with his prioritization of the sport, “Faith, Family, Football, in that order”.

Football is important to me.  But football is not life.  Let’s work to keep football in it’s proper perspective and place. I would hate for you to get a football belly-ache.

WilsonFootball

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Why Free?

Not too long ago, someone asked me why I don’t charge for the baseball skills and hitting camps I offer. It’s because I’m a saint…okay, okay, quit giggling, I apologize for that “little” lie.

Honestly, I’ve thought about it. As a civil servant working at a state university, with twins in college, and a teacher wife taking graduate course work, heaven knows a few extra dollars wouldn’t hurt.

But, I don’t charge a dime.
Why?
Because, nobody ever charged me.

My father, Joe Hays, never charged me for his help.

My brothers, Pat, Tim, Dan, and Tom never charged me for their time or help.

The kids in the neighborhood and my friends never charged a solid quarter for the pick-up games, the whiffle ball games and the home run derby contests.

Coaching influences Bernie Hansel, Bill Patch, Ray Kistler, Don Dumovich, “Easy” Ed Hernandez, Forest Miles, Bruce Gibb, Steve Burleson, Ron Koster, Rex Carlson, Barrett Long, and Dennis “Harpo” Hurla never charged Mike Hays anything to help him get a leg up in the game of baseball.

So, what gives me the right to charge? Nothing.

If I charge kids, who pays? Their parents, right? Now, those parents who emptied the wallet to pay for these lessons will naturally have high expectations. And, as sure as 2+2=4, these high expectations directly transfer to the kid.

Here’s a little sports secret: Stressed out, high anxiety athletes at every level do not perform well. The pressure and the expectation put on a kid after their parent’s monetary investment is something I do not want to make the kids have to deal with.

In a nutshell, here’s what we focus on in our camps:

  • Teach fundamental sports skills.
  • Teach them to be done with a relaxed and efficient body.
  • Practice, practice and practice these skills until they are second nature.
  • Now, the most important step, teach them to have fun playing. Teach them if they work at the skills and they learn to relax and perform, then success will follow. Success = Fun.

There is a lot of discussion in our community about money and extracurricular sports activities. Sports are important to me, always have been, always will be. But, I know sports are not life.
Sports are not at the core mission of what we do as communities. That is why they throw the “extra-” in front of the “curricular”.

Please, support your extracurricular activities with a positive mindset. Support them by providing the coaches and the programs with the budgets and salaries they need and deserve. But, never, ever forget to keep them in perspective.

Perspective. That’s what makes the difference.

Do sports because you enjoy doing sports. As a parent, fan, administrator, coach, or player, put sports in the proper context and savor every second you are fortunate to be involved in them.

Coach and teach sports without trying make a fast dime. I calculated my pay rate one year when I coach both football and baseball at Clay Center Community High School and it came out to be just over $5.00/hour (AND that did not include summer football conditioning hours or baseball field work time that year. It was too depressing to even calculate all that.).

Don’t do it for the money. Do it because you love the sport and love passing it along to future generations just as those in the last generation passed them along to you.

Finally, a little sports disclaimer:

Sports are not life.
Life is life.
Sport are for enjoyment purposes only.
Enjoy them!

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