I crossed my legs, the smooth black leather sofa on which I was perched rubbing against the back of my left calf. He was actually brilliant in many ways. Captivating in certain distinct areas.
His level of dediated towards his athletes was mesmirizing; he took them seriously, he treated them with the respect that many deny to high school athletes. He would high jump a building made of razor blades and broken light bulbs in order to give his softball team what they needed to succeed.
That much was very, very obvious.
Then…then he told us that he does it. The thing.
The thing that so many coaches do. So many high school coaches especially. Right at the pivotal developmental peaks for athletes.
He began to describe his technique for instituting discipline: for tackling practice tardies, disrespect to officials, litering in the fields…anything really regarding punishment. His tactic?
Make ‘em run.
He’s not alone: running as a punishment is common. Common because it’s effective, right? You make ‘em run, you better believe they’ll be early for the next practice. They’ll buy the Ump’ flowers. They’ll scrap the gum off the bleachers.
Anything to not have to run.
Football…volleyball…tennis…swimming…bowling…hell, debate. You screw up, kid, you’re going to sweat for it.
Do you want to venture a guess, then, on why it is that so many people abhor running?
I got incredibly lucky. I had coaches growing up who didn’t hate running. Who actually enjoyed runnng! Who didn’t use it as a form of punishment, who didn’t reinforce it’s “awfulness” but actually reinforcing the benefits.
This influence has lead me to where I am right now. At this moment in life one of my top three greatest passions is running. It brings me exuberant amounts of happiness and joy. It has given me opportunties to face internal demons, to practice delayed gratification, to work for something that I want, to be humbled over and over again.
If, during my peak of development, I had instead had role models who reinforced the suckiness of running for me, who knows where I would be now?
My critique is not intense.
I’m not asking for any kind of action. Any kind of attempts to reinforce the joy in running.
I’m just asking coaches everywhere–and parents and grandmothers and cousins and accountants and grocery store cashiers–just don’t reinforce running as a punishment. Don’t tell someone running sucks.
Let them figure out their own opinion on the matter.
Peace and Blessings,