“C’mon, get up you’re going… Just give it one shot” said the boy’s parents. “No. I really don’t want to” replied the boy.
“Well, you’re not just going to come home and sit around doing nothing” replied his parents.
“Whatever. I’m not going” was the boy’s response.
Eventually the boy’s parents coaxed him into going to his first football practice. And to his surprise the boy “loved” it and continued to go back to practice three times a week. Thus, beginning a lifelong love of football.
That boy was me, and the love affair might be over.
Let me explain.
I decided last year it would be my last coaching football. My decision was both personal and professional. I need to be home more during the fall because I am gone many nights during basketball season. I also have several personal and professional dreams and goals I want to accomplish. And now is the time to execute on those goals. So it’s “no for now, but necessarily forever” in regards to coaching football.
State of Football as I see it
I’ll always love the game of football and be eternally grateful for what it has given me over the years. I’ve been blessed to play for, work with, and coach many outstanding coaches and young athletes.
I believe too many high school coaches have the wrong approach these days. It’s pushing kids away. I have heard from reliable coaches two programs in St. Louis and eight in Missouri have been suspended due to lack of interest this fall. Now this could be for a variety of reasons but I think there are correlations across the board. There is school near me that has over 2,000 kids in their high school, but only 40 kids out in the entire program. How can that be?
It’s All About The Players
If kids aren’t playing because it’s not fun that’s one thing, but far too many kids are not playing football because they don’t think it’s worth the time they’re required to put in.
Too many high school coaches today treat their programs as a college or professional program. And the kids don’t want to be a part of it. They don’t want to practice three hours a day, play a game Friday night, and then be at school early Saturday morning until noon.
Now, I do understand why coaches have their kids do this, I really do. But I just think it’s asking too much of them when in the end, it doesn’t make enough difference between winning and losing. Talent still wins out.
The time commitment is even more demanding on coaches. I heard the following story of a local coach in the STL area:
This coach would have his assistants come in early every Saturday morning to break down film before meeting with the players. Well, one week the assistants wanted to get out early so they could go be with their wives, as the ladies had planned something. So rather than complain to the coach, they thought they’d show up early, impress the coach, get their work done, and could be with their wives. Not so fast my friend. The coach had to do things his way, and on his time. He literally sat there until the clock reached the time they normally started, and then said, “Ok, now we can start.” Talk about something that will push you away from the game.
Too many coaches are leaving the sport due to burnout. It’s so preventable.
During my senior year of football, we went 12-1 and lost in the state semifinals. Over our three-year varsity run we went 30-5. We had two weeks of camp in the summer, would lift three days a week, and attended one team camp. Our practices went from 3-5pm every day. We never came in on Saturdays. I guarantee you we’d still win today. Why? Because we had talent, we worked hard, had pride, believed in each other, and had true team camaraderie.
I’m not saying this to brag. I’m saying it as proof you don’t have to put in ridiculous hours to be successful. My high school coach still runs the same program. He’s considered one of the best in the area. When he has talent, his teams win a lot of games. When the talent’s down, they don’t. It’s all about the players.
There’s too much male bravado in football. Too many guys think they need to spend their weekends in the office. It’s like some weird badge of honor. They’ll do this for a decade or so, then realize they’re about to lose their family, and will step away from coaching. More coaches need to be like Bruce Arians and Tony Dungy. They won’t hire, and will fire, guys if they don’t get out of the office and spend time with their family.
This past December I told my wife, “I need to get gas.” Really I needed to be alone. It was down to the wire and the lying, crooked, power hungry Roger Goodell had just announced my team, The St. Louis Rams (and their scumbag owner, Stan Kroenke) were approved for relocation.
I won’t go into the he said, she said here, but I can’t wait for the 30for30 to come out on this scandal. You can call it sour grapes or whatever you want, but it’s kind of like when Dorothy sees the Wizard for the first time from behind the curtain. My love and fascination with the NFL is gone.
*Losing a football team is one thing, but it’s nothing compared to what that scumbag Kroenke is doing here–check this out!
I had blinders on. I spend too much money, and most importantly, my time on the (blood sucking vultures), I mean owners of the NFL. It’s not about the players. It’s about greed and corruption.
It’s like when in Rocky V, Rocky Balboa tells Tommy Gun, “They don’t care about you Tommy, and they don’t care about me neither.”
Take if from the NFL fans in St. Louis. The NFL doesn’t really care about fans, they don’t really care about player safety, they just care about turning millions into billions.
I used to think I couldn’t have life without football. But I’m kind of excited that now I’m liberated from it. I’m sure I’ll catch a game or two this fall. I’ll probably watch more college football than anything. But the appeal just isn’t there like it was in the past. I will always be forever grateful to the game, what it gave me, and who it shaped me to be. What hurts the most, is seeing so many kids around my state, and I’m sure around the country who are not getting the same opportunity.
If I were an athletic director or charge of my State High School Athletic Association, here would be my guidelines:
- Practices are no longer than two and a half hours, ideally only 2 hours in length.
- No weekends when you don’t have a game.
- Make it fun every day, it’s not a collegiate or professional team
- Teach the young men leadership and character. I highly recommend Lead Em Up for any high school sports program.
As always, thanks for reading, have a great week, and be an RGP today!
Coach Elmendorf is available to speak to your team, group, or organization. Message him for details.