I’m always behind the times when it comes to watching movies. This weekend I caught a 2003 documentary called “Year of the Bull.” It followed a blue-chip recruit in his final season as high school football player.
Some of the footage was shocking, and this documentary could become a level-one coaching primer on
“how not to coach high school athletes.”
The coaches demonstrated virtually every negative coaching behavior you can imagine. Many of the behaviors would get them fired in a split second in many school districts—and would certainly never be tolerated by a physical educator.
These behaviors included physical abuse such as slapping players and an outright assault that left a coach and player wrestling on the ground…followed by a transparent manipulation of that player’s emotions by the coach, telling the fatherless youth that he loved him like a son and that the team needed him. This “reconciliation” was so self-serving and insincere that it was sickening. And such an assault by a father on his son would result in action by the Children’s Aid Society.
The coaches seemed to exhibit symptoms of permanent ‘roid rage, belittling players at the top of their lungs, getting in their face and screaming profanities and threats… adult bullies, using every trick in the book to shame their child-troops into compliance with their wishes.
The interesting thing is that these coaches permitted their behaviors to be recorded. So they must have believed that their coaching techniques to be not only acceptable but commendable. Did they view this documentary as a way to advertise their talents to a higher level of coaching? If so, they were terribly mistaken. Yes, football is a tough sport, but what university would risk the potential lawsuits and loss of reputation that the hiring such coaches might produce. Basketball legend, Bobby Knight was fired for behavior that was mild compared to this.
Near the end of the movie, in the state championship game, I found myself cheering against this team. Not because I disliked then the athletes, but because I deplored the methods their coaches had used to get them to get that championship.
This team was stacked with division one football talent. Five of the players would sign letters of intent at division one football programs. Yes the program was successful, in a football sense. But you don’t have to abuse children to get results on the field. And what could this team and these athletes have accomplished with coaches who understood that they were dealing with adolescents who needed guidance in life as well as football.
Dick Moss, Editor,
[tags]football,Year of the Bull,coaching,[/tags]