Coaching & COVID-19

I think we may be heading toward a different place in sports.

Hear me out for a sec.

In this new normal we’re in, I remember how it was playing the sports I loved growing up.

If I was injured, got a knock, got a stinger, or anything like that, I was always told, “Shake it off,” “Put some dirt on it,” or the ever-popular, “Ah, you’ll be okay,” followed by a wave of the hand by the coach – experienced or otherwise.

These days, I talk to coaches who are fathers and husbands who are looking at their games through a different prism. They want to know when a student-athlete isn’t feeling well, not just for the one but for everyone who could be affected by the sickness of another. They want to know, ahead of time, if a student-athlete isn’t coming to work out. They want to know, ahead of time, so they can prepare otherwise. They want to know, ahead of time, so they can tell you to stay home.

They want those phone calls.

It’s no longer a situation where a student-athlete, if they’re not feeling well, still shows up and guts it out. It’s no longer a situation where a student-athlete isn’t a “real man” if he doesn’t show up to something. You’re more of a man by not being a part of your team and taking care of everyone around you with an absence.

I talk to coaches who are also fathers of young children, some very young.

They shower first thing when they get home because they want to be as safe in front of their wives and children and have as normal of a life as possible. Some look into the great unknown every day and get teaching lessons about those things I talked about above.

Coaches have become avid readers these days trying to find and digest as much information as they can, and a lot of times conversations with fellow coaches can yield as much information as what they learn in their day-to-day. They have become each other’s best set of resource materials and sounding boards. As a part of their new dossiers, some of the best advice has been about focus, listening, and taking what we all grew up with as norms and putting them to the side.

When these coaches drive a sick kid home because they have no other means, that act takes on a whole new level of meaning, not just to a family, but a community.

I think we’re all learning as we go these days, to be honest.

At the same time, I think we can be just as effective a teacher by paying those lessons forward.

Play it safe, everyone! I’ll talk to you soon!

Written by: Jon Nelson