I read with much interest a letter to the editor in last Friday's edition of the Daily Sun News, entitled "Put all football players on the field," by Monica Sanchez of Cheney. There are parts of this letter that I agree with and parts that I do not.
First of all, I would like to tell Ms. Sanchez that she should get her information first-hand. It is obvious that she was not in attendance at the Sierra Vista football games that she speaks about where "young players were left on the sideline for the majority of the game while a small portion of the team dominated the playing time on the field." Before talking about the coaching style displayed by the Sierra Vista football staff, one should actually have witnessed the game they are talking about.
I do agree with Ms. Sanchez, though, that all youth should be allowed to play in sports. This is why there is the parks and recreation department. The parks and recreation department is designed to encourage participation of all young athletes in every program.
Athletic programs at school and other community programs such as Grid Kids, which I coach on one of the teams, and other youth programs outside of the parks and recreation setting are designed to teach children how to be competitive. These programs are the foundation for teaching children they have to work for what they want in life.
My oldest son joined Grid Kids at 9, playing on the A squad. He was only able to play his first year because of a lack of players. The next two years my son saw sporadic action. This year, my oldest is one of the mainstays on both the Grid Kid A squad and 7th grade football at Sierra Vista. My son didn't reach where he is at right now by his mom and dad yelling at the coaches on the sideline, talking about how we were wasting our money because our son didn't get to play that much.
I will tell you I was upset at the time. I naturally thought my son was the best football player in the world at the age of 9-10-11. Even though we were upset we never said anything. I am glad we didn't. I realized when our oldest son was 11 that he wasn't playing because of his attitude, the effort he gave at practice and when he was in the games.
Grid Kid A squad coach Max Saldana did one of the best things he could ever done for my son by not letting him play just because we had paid a fee. Max taught my son he has to work for what he wants in life, whether it is on or away from the football field. My son is not the perfect pre-teen by any stretch, but he is a better person for being made to stand on that sideline and having to earn his spot.
Standing on that sideline taught my son the meaning of team, how to support those who work alongside him and to appreciate what sports can do for a person.
Youth are allowed to drop out of such activities as sports because their parents allow them to. Many of these parents are the ones who complain their children are not receiving enough playing time, so they encourage their child to take their ball and go home.
Parents should be fostering the positive aspects of being in athletics, such as teamwork, working hard to get better at something and being part of a group.
I can tell you from personal experience there are reasons players stand on the sideline. They stand on the sideline or see limited action because they are not ready to play a complete game, regardless of the activity. Football, especially, is a very dangerous sport. Putting a young man on the field who is not ready to play will not only expose him to possible injury, but others as well. Coaches don't make players sit out to be mean or to pick on a kid.
Coaching is not easy. Believe me, as a coach you want all the kids to have a positive experience. As a coach, you want them to know first-hand the experience of being part of something such as a football team, succeeding in what they do and being better people for their efforts while thinking about what is best for the team. The two often get lost in one another.
Winning is important. Many people forget that fact. Teaching a young man or woman how to win and lose with class are two of the most important things a youngster can learn. The youth in our community need to realize they are earning something on their own merits, instead of having it handed to them because mom and dad screamed the loudest to the coaches.
And to parents, if you are relying on athletics to keep your child away from gangs, drugs or in school you better focus your efforts somewhere else. I suggest becoming involved with your child's life in a positive, productive manner that teaches them hard work, and not whining and complaining, is what pays off in the end. Those lessons are the ones that will provide a long, lasting impact on our youth.
Remember, sometimes you can learn something positive from standing on the sidelines.
/s/ Michael Kantman, Sunnyside