For those of us coaching (and sports parenting) on sidelines of youth and high school games this fall, the controversy swirling around the NFL may feel distant from our day-to-day sports experience.
We at Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) encourage you to think about how the present situation can be used as a "teachable moment." In your specific role, why and how might you talk to youth about what they're seeing?
If you're an athletic director...
- Have you talked with your coaches about whether they have addressed the protests with their athletes? These issues are deep, complex and emotionally charged, and your coaches will appreciate having you as a sounding board.
Have you talked with your coaches about how they might respond if their athletes want to show some form of protest during one of their competitions? Again, coaches will appreciate having thought this through ahead of time, so they are not caught off guard in the moment.
If you're a coach...
- Have you heard your players talking about what they're seeing on TV at the NFL games? How have you chosen to weigh in (or not weigh in) on these conversations? How might not weighing in be interpreted by your team?
- What would you do if your players (or a single athlete) told you they wanted to have a form of peaceful protest at one of your competitions? Being ready for this sort of discussion will serve you well.
- How will you react if one of your athletes surprises you with a form of peaceful protest at one of your competitions?
If you're a sports parent...
- Don't assume your child is too young to be aware of what is taking place at NFL games. We've heard from parents who asked their kids if they were aware and were surprised by the detailed answers they received.
- Start by asking your child questions - rather than giving a lengthy explanation of where you personally stand on the issue. If you go first, you may never hear what your child thinks, and you'll learn a lot by letting him or her speak first.
- It's OK to model not having all of the answers: "This is a really tough topic. Let's talk about what's happening and figure out how we feel about it together."
Based on our experiences talking with athletic directors, coaches, parents, and athletes about these current events, we know these conversations can be powerful learning experiences for all involved. Together, let's make the most of them.
Please let PCA know how your conversations around this topic are going by commenting below, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.