A letter to my child’s coach

Elizabeth Hersh is Senior Rabbi at Temple Emanuel (TE), and a blogger on the Jewish Light’s website (stljewishlight.com/chaplain).

By Rabbi Elizabeth Hersh

An open letter to my child’s ______ coach. You fill in the blank. Must you use your words and tone to degrade my child and other teammates? Do you think they will perform better, stronger, quicker on the field by using them as examples of how not to perform a drill in a derogatory manner. Don’t you know that shame is the least effective motivator for an eleven year old (or dare I say any age?) Shame is an overused and unproductive emotion for boys. 

And when my son came to practice wearing a wool cap on his head, did you have to pull him aside even before saying hello and announce a little too loudly that this wasn’t the place for a fashion statement? Was it harmful to you or the team that he was wearing a hat because he was cold? Or if you thought it was disrespectful or inappropriate, didn’t your parents tell you there are ways, and there are ways of expressing yourself of your not-so-humble opinion? 

At the precious age of pre-adolescence, I don’t mind that he wears a hat or plastic wrist bands with the name of a cause. I am glad he hasn’t asked for a piercing or that his hair is still his natural color. Kids express themselves in a variety of safe ways. Why did you make him feel vulnerable and defensive? 

In my eyes, you are a bully. You exercise tremendous power and authority over these kids. Some may even look to you as a role model. When you were in the hospital, my son wrote you a get well note even though he enjoyed your absence from practice. Perhaps you are achieving your goal. My son no longer wants to play this sport. Are you happy? I think it’s time you stepped aside. You no longer respect sportsmanship or the spirit of the game. You are not worthy of the title coach, in my humble opinion.

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