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Wayne Post
  • Coaching Kamp: Rutgers saga has impact at youth level

  • Rutgers University has fired its basketball coach fired. His actions — verbal and physical — were nothing short of abuse. He gives coaches at all levels a bad name, with far-reaching effects on fields and sandlots across the country and maybe here in our community. We’ve heard about those legendary coache...
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  • Rutgers University has fired its basketball coach fired. His actions — verbal and physical — were nothing short of abuse. He gives coaches at all levels a bad name, with far-reaching effects on fields and sandlots across the country and maybe here in our community. We’ve heard about those legendary coaches rumored to be guilty of the same abuses without the camera on them. Camera or no camera, these actions are never right.
    The job of coach at the highest college level is no doubt pressure filled. Pressure to recruit the best players, pressure to win and pressure to raise funds has become more important than actually “coaching” athletes. Clearly the priorities are upside down in a youth and collegiate system that is often criticized.
    Coaches, whether on the arena floor or the clay of a Little League field always have people watching them — sports administrators, other coaches and parents. The concern is about that one overly competitive coach, and more importantly, the young athletes themselves.
    Sadly, somewhere in America there is a coach of a youth sports team who has seen the Rutgers video and is saying, “Discipline. That’s what athletes need.” We can hope that no one is saying this but after 23 years of coaching and youth sports administration, I know better.
    Then there are the kids who are watching. The highly sought-after high school athletes desiring a college scholarship may push it aside. They assume it would never happen to them. The same caliber of athlete with a bit of a temper might strike back. But what of the young athletes who love basketball and wear the jersey of their favorite college team while playing on their driveway courts? Recent studies from Little League to Pop Warner and youth sports councils show that 70 percent of young athletes quit sports programs at age 13. What’s the primary reason? It’s poor treatment by a coach. Now it might be fear of poor treatment.
    In monitoring social media about the incident, professional athletes from all corners of major league sports are speaking out against the actions of this one coach, who out of respect for the players, I refuse to name. And not surprisingly, most of the college basketball coaches at the Division 1 level, when asked, defer to “no comment.”
    As a youth sports coach, it is frustrating to see an already battered coaching profession (thank you, Penn State) get even more negative publicity.
    As a youth sports administrator, the athletic director, while he resigned, should have done it sooner. He allegedly knew about this in November. What would we do if this happened in the classroom? We wouldn’t accept this behavior if it were reported about a teacher and that’s without the benefit of video cameras.
    This event has stirred up emotions nationwide. Some support tough love with athletes but most are repulsed at the actions. The good news: it’s making us think about where youth sports are in life’s priorities and to ask the question, “Why?” The youth sports environment is often riddled with fear: Fear about losing the competitive advantage, fear about not getting potential scholarships, fear about not making elite teams, and fear our kids will not get every opportunity to be “stars.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Winning should be defined by doing the right thing, not the score. As coaches, what we do and say has a tremendous impact on young athletes whether they are 12 or 22. We have the responsibility of protecting them, keeping them safe and speaking up for them. As coaches we can learn a lesson from the legends of the Great Plains Native Americans who every morning, say to their children, “It’s a good day to do great things.”
    Greg Kamp is a 23-year veteran of youth sports as a coach and administrator and is currently the President of Penfield Little League and sits on the board at the District level. He is the host of Youth Sports Now, a weekly radio show on WYSL-AM/FM and also runs Strategy First,  his own public relations and marketing business.
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