Dodgeball.

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Let me translate my tweet according, as read/heard through some men’s ears:

“You are all sexist pigs and your coaching pedigree isn’t worth a damn.”

During this Twitter exchange, many great ideas bounced back and forth, and some garbage takes, too. I think most of us ended up shaking virtual hands and walking away, except for one man who blocked me after he posted a gif of a comedian with a “stupid” look on his face. Not sure what his point was, but he’s a administrator of a Christian school, so perhaps he’s working on his faith but trolling teachers on Twitter. I am being snarky, but this illustrates how fragile and serious many of the men on this thread took my requests. Many educators spoke up, too, and I want to highlight their views.

All I was saying is coaching is not the only thing that makes a great administrator/leader. In fact, I would like us to put it as a far tenth on the list.

Let me be clear: a sports coach, dance coach, cheer, or anything to do with athleticism has my respect, with this caveat: some coaches are the worst bullies, pedophiles, creeps, abusers, and predators out there. And so are teachers. And principals and vice principals.

Leading me to my point: how often are sports/coaches held to idolatry and adulation? Can we Northern Americans name a day when some kind of sport isn’t in the forefront of many people’s minds? We go from season to season, marking the calendar off with football to basketball to baseball back to football. It’s so pervasive in our American culture, it is the ‘fish don’t know they’re wet’ analogy. They can’t know. For some, their time coaching defines their ability to make others move in one direction, and according to Dr. Johnson, it seemed a great place to start if one wants to move into administration.

And I say hogwash.

Whether or not coaching experience makes one a better leader or potential administrator is such a tired, cliche question. It’s unoriginal and unimaginative.

And Jess summed it up. The message in the thread repeatedly told me that given the choice between someone with coaching experience and someone without, they’d pick the one with every time.

This gentleman tweeted the same reply in different ways about three times.

And this gentleman tweeted reams of responses:

When I let him know he missed the point, he dodged and ducked.

Perhaps some examples are in order? We all have these stories and backgrounds. I am not unique.

  • Had a 12 lb. baby on Christmas day 25 years ago and went back to work after 4 weeks because I couldn’t save up anymore vacation time. He was 16 days overdue, and was in the hospital for a week after I gave birth. I had to go back and forth to the hospital experiencing a lot of physical pain, and still had to go back to work without getting a chance to heal. My husband was doing freelance at the time and not making much money, and I was the sole steady earner. Can that go on my resume as someone with grit and stamina?
  • When I was getting my teaching certificate I had two small children and an underemployed husband, and I worked at Starbucks part time over 20 hours a week, and took on a 35-credit load per semester. Does that count as ‘leadership?’
  • I volunteered as an art docent for my son’s first grade class and without any coaching or teaching experience help twenty-five little 7-year-olds make things.
  • The teachers running the GSA Clubs, Anime, Minecraft, Robotics, Board Games, etc. all get points, too.
  • The teachers who have 125-150 students, every year, five to six classes per day in secondary, make sure each and every one is noticed, stacks of feedback and preparation to ensure each one is getting the best education available.

One of the worst and most heartbreaking tweets was from a teacher who was passed over for a job because she wasn’t a coach, too. They hired inexperienced (male) teachers over her. Think about that: sports/coaching are so heavily entrenched in our society blatant evidence of athletics over academics cannot be overstated.

I repeat: coaching is not the issue. Of course being a good athlete, working on a team, etc. has value. But saying it has value is said constantly, in media, conversations, at schools, etc. To the victor go the spoils, and if you’re involved in any kind of athletic pursuit, that level of power becomes heady stuff.

Thank heavens for friends.

We are a long way from putting academics, activities, dance and art over sports.

Sports are embedded in American schools in a way they are not almost anywhere else. Yet this difference hardly ever comes up in domestic debates about America’s international mediocrity in education. (The U.S. ranks 31st on the same international math test.) The challenges we do talk about are real ones, from undertrained teachers to entrenched poverty. But what to make of this other glaring reality, and the signal it sends to children, parents, and teachers about the very purpose of school?

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2013/10/the-case-against-high-school-sports/309447/

And don’t get me started on the equity issues. Okay, too late. I’m started. Athletics are expensive. Parents of privilege have the means to travel with their sons and daughters, but it still puts a strain on most families’ finances. I have zero opinion or judgement about how parents spend their time with their children. That is not my thing. My only wish is that kids who want to play, can, without the stress of finances or time being taken away from their families. Years ago, at my previous school we didn’t have a soccer team and one of the fears was because many of the (suburban/White) kids had been playing since they were three and would create a disadvantage. Literally an unleveled playing field. (We didn’t have a good field for them to play on, either.)

Open Goal Project focuses on competitive soccer — a niche that executive director Amir Lowery said needed to be filled immediately in the D.C. area when the nonprofit formed in 2015.

Some groups are doing good work: kids need to play, have respectful coaches, and trying to mitigate the high cost of sports. https://www.espn.com/espn/story/_/id/27356477/kids-playing-enough-sports-culprit-cost

One of the talking points that irked me the most was “no one is saying other contributions aren’t important” and then saying “but given all things, being a coach and having coaching experience makes one better suited for the job.”

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That is the point. Being imaginative requires a certain amount of foolishness and courage. The men and women colleagues I’ve known who’ve gone into administration have not been coaches. They’ve been superlative colleagues: collaborative, informed, focused and intelligent. They seek answers and ideas. The makings of a true leader.

Featured image from: https://www.sookenewsmirror.com/sports/emcs-hosts-community-wide-dodgeball-tournament-in-sooke/

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