“Devastating Gaffe”

February 24, 2010

As we continue our series on failure, the above picture captures the sickening emotion Holland’s Sven Kramer experienced after his coach told him his was disqualified from a speed skating competition at the 2010 Olympics. Being the world-record holder in the 10,000 meters, Kramer was considered a favorite in this event.  But a gold medal was not to be.  Kramer was disqualified because he crossed over into another skating lane when he was not supposed to. How devastating to lose a gold medal because of a preventable mistake!

The interesting sidelight in this saga is that Kramer was ultimately not responsible for this mistake. His coach had gotten confused in the lap count and told Kramer to switch lanes at the improper time. The skaters alternate lanes at certain intervals to level the skating distance of an oval track with inner and outer lanes. Kramer’s coach, Gerard Kembers, told press corp members after the race that his “world collapsed” and that “this is the worst moment of my  career.” The decision and direction of this coach cost an athlete an ultimate prize.

As coaches, we shoulder the responsibility that our words/influence have on the athletes  with whom we work. In this instance we see where words have a negative effect. Trust between team members and the coach is imperative if the coach is to be effective, but that trust can be broken or “doubted.”  Sven Kramer has been slow to blame others for mistakes that have occurred during his racing career, but this Olympics has changed that. His coach is to blame for this critical mistake. We leave these last two images for you to dwell on as powerful reminders of a coach’s influence on today’s athlete–for good or for bad.


Jay Cutler Could Have Taken Another Route

March 17, 2009

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Parents Divorce For High School Athletic Program

January 19, 2009

I did an interview the other day with the outgoing executive director of the TSSAA, the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association, which is the governing body for all of high school athletics in the state of Tennessee.

Ronnie Carter is retiring after 23 years as the director and 42 years overall as a coach and administrator in the school system.  He told me that one of the most disturbing issues that he has to face is the growing number of parents who either move or actually get divorced in order for their son or daughter to be able to enroll and play at a high school of their choice that’s not in their district.

By divorcing, one parents stays in the original house and the other moves into the new district.  He went on to tell me that he got involved in a case where five sets of parents, who’s kids had played basketball together on AAU teams, all got together and decided that they wanted their sons to play on the same high school team.  So two of the parents moved and three got divorces so they all enrolled at the same school at the same time. The trouble, for me is that the new coach let them.

As Ronnie put it, the job of the TSSAA is to set minimal guidelines.  He said it was up to the coaches and principles to expand and enforce those standards.

The problem, Ronnie said, is that you can’t enforce morality.  If winnning is all that matters to a coach, then nothing else matters.

Spitting, Baseball, and Etiquette

October 31, 2008

Now that the professional baseball season is officially over I have to say something about this beloved game: what’s the deal with spitting? I recorded this a few weeks ago so here’s my take on it…

Don’t Forget Your Injured Players

August 15, 2008

I got an email the other day from a woman with a son who she said was very depressed because he’d injured his neck during practice with his high school football team. It wasn’t life threatening and there wasn’t any fear of his being paralyzed, but he was told by doctors that surgery, to fuse two discs, was required and that he would never play football again.

She told me the surgery went well and he couldn’t wait to go out to football practice just to see his teammates. As he was standing on the sidelines, wearing a neck collar, a number of his teammates came over on their way out just to wish him well, but only one of seven coaches stopped to ask him how he was doing and it wasn’t the head coach.

The mother told me it bothered her son a great deal and her as well. The coaching staff went straight out onto the field and got busy “coaching”. This young man was no longer any use on the field, so he was no longer important, or so it seemed.

I don’t want to be overly critical because I don’t know the coaches, but it’s a stark reminder that anyone in the the coaching business is “Coaching for Life” and to get so wrapped up in the game could mean that you’re leaving behind a trail of tears.

Is that worth it?

Way To Go Candace Parker!

July 28, 2008

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When Pride Gets in the Way

July 17, 2008

I’m troubled by what’s happening between Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers. Having grown up in Wisconsin, I’m an old die hard Packers fan and Brett is at the top of that list, but enough is enough.

Like a child crying wolf I’ve grown tired of him dragging out his retirement the last few years and changing his mind even though he says he was pressured into the decision by the Packers this time.

As in the case of Michael Jordan and Jerry Rice, the same pride and passion that made him great is now the force that refuses to let him face reality.

As a superstar he became accustomed to the football world, especially in Green Bay, circulating around him. As real and unaffected as he tried to be, it seeped in through all the royal treatment through the years. He became bigger than life, but it eventually got to the point that reality no longer existed and preferential treatment became an expected way of life.

It shattered his ego that the head coach of the Packers told him that they were moving on. How could they possibly think of being successful without him and didn’t he have every right to wait as long as he wanted to make a decision and then change his mind? Now his bruised ego has gotten to the point that he talks about walking on at the Packers training camp, forcing their hand in making a decision on his status.

I know he loves the game and hates to give it up, but pride has eaten him up.

Reality is that every single football player has to quit at some point. Others with the same prideful issues dragged it on too long and it became painful to watch, but that’s the reality of life not only sports. In life, corporations make the same decisions with long time, valued employees and it’s not easy to accept.

I know, I’ve been there and gone through that. Brett Favre will as well even though he won’t enjoy it.

Pride is a powerful motivator but can also be a devastating enemy.