Friday, June 18, 2021

Great coaches are, first, great teachers


An op-ed in the print edition of today’s Baltimore Sun quotes Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh as saying, “Being a great coach is about being a great teacher.”

FOXBORO, Mass. (Jan 10) — Coach John Harbaugh of the Baltimore Ravens looks on from the sideline during the AFC Divisional Championship game against the New England Patriots. (Jared Wickerham / Getty Images Sport)

David C Faus, headmaster at St Paul’s School in Brooklandville and a teacher and coach for about 35 years, reminds us that student-athletes in high school will spend more time with their coaches this fall than they will with any one teacher all year.

That’s not a bad thing, he says, since he has seen “firsthand that students, particularly adolescents, can often learn lessons more effectively on the athletic field than in a classroom: discipline, responsibility, and sportsmanship among them.”

Unfortunately, some coaches put winning games above all else, including the teaching of those important lessons. This is the fault, in part, he suggests, of the growing trend students have of specializing in one sport, which leads schools to hire outside personnel to come in and coach the teams, non-teachers who have no vested interest in the development of student-athletes but only in producing winning teams.

It is wrong for the teacher-coach model to decline, we believe, because coaches have been like music teachers, the most important people in the high school careers of many a student. Furthermore, Voxitatis reported that the partial driving force behind this trend, specializing in one sport, is neither effective in getting more college scholarship opportunities for student-athletes nor responsible in terms of preventing possibly career-ending injuries.

We keep this in mind as we open our Illinois high school football coverage today, where we will report the scores and the winning, the championships and the defeats. We leave it, as we have for 15 years, to our teachers and coaches to impart the more important lessons, and we thank Mr Faus for an excellent article.

Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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