Coach’s thoughts on sitting players

What happen last Friday night at Chaparral High School in the football game against Saguaro High School is wrong for a lengthy list of reasons.  I am going to begin and list them in the order that begins with the least grievous.

Many of us who answer to the title of ‘coach’, refer to the life lessons that football teaches.  Then what lesson is being taught when we choose to compete only when we feel it is most convenient for us?  What about when life deals us a tough card?  (Such as, the situation that Coach Scott Bemis and his family are facing right now).  An agreement had been reached between the two schools to rekindle this rivalry game, then Fox Sports decides to put this game on regional TV – and one team decides to tank it!  So, after I give my word – I can change it?  What life lesson is that?  If a professional team decides that they have already qualified for the playoffs and they want to rest starters, that makes sense.  However, a high school team, composed of amateur athletes, which the vast majority of them will never play football in college, let alone the professional ranks – rests eight starters – Really!  A lost opportunity to learn a life lesson.

Then the point that really bothers me is this: a high school team lost the opportunity to compete against their neighboring rivals and play for bragging rights.  For the seniors, they will never get this night back, it’s gone.  They may go on and win a State Championship, and that is a great thrill, but they will always wonder, could we have beaten Chaparral our senior year?  I think that they could have beaten Chaparral.

As a coach, how do I look a less talented player in the eye and tell him, “son, we can win the state championship if you get injured, but we can’t afford to lose so and so.”  That would be a difficult conversation for me.  How do I look a senior in the eye, who is a good high school football player, but isn’t going to play in college and tell him, “son listen, I have decided I am not going to let you play this game, I mean you have at least one more left and I decided that game will be more important than this one – at least to me.”  

The family that is spread out across the country and haven’t been able to see their relationship play high school football, now will have a chance, thanks to TV, to see them play live in a great environment for high school football, but that doesn’t happen because I figured out how to guarantee that we will win another State Championship!  Even if that means giving up the opportunity for my young men to learn a few more life lessons.

When John stated earlier in the week that he was going to bench his starters, I really thought that was John being John. I was wrong, that was John letting his ego get in the way of what was best for his kids, for Saguaro High School and for the game of ‘high school football’.  It is impossible to undo what happened and many will clamor for some type of action to be taken. 

I don’t know what will come of this, but I can, only hope that someone on his staff spoke up at the time and said, “Coach this isn’t a good idea.”  I hope that an entire staff didn’t agree with this flawed thinking, now I realize that this is just one old guys opinion, but…

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