It’s that time of year when fall sports are finishing their seasons, or will enter playoffs, or have completed enough of their season to see if the fair-weather fans are sticking around this year.
For coaching families of fall sports, October and November mark the beginning of the most difficult part of the calendar year. This is when the rumor mill is at its height and when the bleacher coaches express the most displeasure. It’s also when coaches’ wives need the most support from friends who understand that they don’t always have the freedom to contradict public perception even when the “squeaky wheel” misrepresents the truth about a situation.
Rumor mills often begin because an unhappy fan decides to inform others that they have more authority than they actually have to impact a coaching decision. They will announce they have “spoken with the decision makers and made clear the coaches have to go” listing numerous reasons that rarely make sense to anyone who actually understands that sport.
Nevertheless, once the rumor mill begins the dynamics surrounding this adds a new layer of stress to each week of preparation for the coaches and team. The rumors that the coach is on the way out the door also can give permission to fair-weather fans to loosen their lips and join in the bandwagon negativity. This groupthink creates a cyclical effect that builds until the tension is something that can no longer be ignored.
The rumor mill instigators lack actual knowledge of the sport, knowledge of what the coaches’ and teams’ day to day work looks like, and also lack an understanding of the impact of how their false words harm families.
Unsurprisingly, many rumor mills are started by bleacher coaches. Madden NFL experts who are frustrated that high school athletes don’t execute plays with the same precision that the video game players do and exercise their freedom of speech by berating the coaches and players for their lack of skill are something special.
The common thought amongst these coaches that always makes me chuckle the most is that coaches “only” work a few hours after school and during the game. Anyone who assumes that coaches aren’t spending hours of time preparing for each practice, team meeting, and game have no respect for the nuances occurring on the field.
Bleacher coaches refuse to see small success or consider off the field progress. Rather, they measure a team’s success by how many big plays occur and more often than not how much playing time their family member has even if they aren’t the best player at a particular position.
In the midst of the bleacher coaches delighting in their latest rumor mill theories are the families of the coaches. The coaches have headsets on and keep their focus on the game. Meanwhile, the bleacher chaos behind them can become unruly. The “fans” sharp words sink deep into the hearts and minds of each coach’s wife her kids who absorb the criticism on behalf of the coach they are present to support.
Protect Your Coach’s Wife
Do you know your local coaches’ wives? Do you consider one your friend? Now is the time to gear up and advocate. The truth is no one knows what will happen in weeks to come, but regardless of the results there are real people (some of them children) who are going to carry the weight of the words and decisions that others make.
Reminding people that rumors they start and the insults they hurl are landing on human beings doesn’t seem like something we should have to do these days, however, sadly, it’s necessary.