The Bottom Line
By Bill Nestor
The hottest topic of this summer was put out by the West Virginia State Board of Education last Thursday when it rejected a proposal that would’ve allowed year-round coaching for every sport in every high school in WV. The change would have allowed 50 weeks of participation per sport with two dead weeks coming the week of July 4th and the week prior to the official start of the actual sport being played.
At first glance it appears to be clear-cut – either you are for it or opposed to it.
However, upon further review the sub plots and additional factors make this less than a black and white decision.
Coaches and players will tell you the politically correct answer, which is that they unarguably want year-round practice. If they didn’t respond decisively in favor of it their peers would scrutinize them unmercifully. If they didn’t support it whole-heartedly their love for that sport and their loyalty to the team would be questioned. But what they say publically and how they truly feel might be two different stories.
The coaches have been around the block and they have learned the art of “coach speak”. They will give the acceptable answers to the questions asked about players and opposing teams that mask their honest assessments, avoiding bulletin board material and keeping irate parents off of their backs in the process. It’s one of the first lessons learned by coaches and over time most of them get pretty good at it.
The players on the other hand face the pressure of teammates and it is hard for them to express their true feelings because in many cases they would be shunned. Today’s athletes have in several cases, multiple interests that tug at their time, making year-round practice difficult. If you take a look at the top athletes in our area you will see that most of them play more than one sport. Those athletes would have to pick and choose where to spend their time. No matter where they go, someone isn’t going to be happy with their decision.
You might never get the true feelings of some players and coaches concerning this topic. Everyone has their own agenda and what matters to them is the most important thing. In this situation the best interest of the athlete is the most important factor.
The main reason that I think that year-round practice is the way to go is opportunity. Every athlete deserves the opportunity to excel in his or her sport of choice. Repetition is the key mastering and skill. The more that you do it the better you will become at it.
Some athletes are fortunate to have knowledgeable people around them that can help them achieve goals that they set for themselves. The ones that do not are my concern. They deserve a chance to reach their potential and if they are willing to put the time in and do the work they should be provided the opportunity. An underprivileged athlete deserves a chance. A chance to realize their maximum potential and they should not be impeded by a lack of practice time.
Over the years I’ve seen several players blossom a year or two after they graduate. If that process occurred earlier then some of them could have extended their playing careers. More scholarships could have been gained, and maybe some lives could have been changed for the better.
Also, I think the coaches should be compensated for their efforts. Year long practice should mean additional pay. What better investment do we have than our youth?
That will do it for now. Until next week…take care and God bless!