A little of my experience.
I was coaching football at an unnamed High School. ( I have coached at many, so this protects anyone offended by this sharing.) In the middle of hot August two-a-day practices, 90 plus degree heat, tempers are short, and nerves frazzled. Both the coaches, training staff, and players are all exhausted from dehydration, extremely hot weather, ridiculous football conditions, and the fight for positions and placement for the upcoming season. Mind you, the regular season had not started yet, just practices and scrimmages, so we were in the early phases of things.
I believe that this was the second practice of the day. We had just returned from lunch and recovery session, and were going through some individual drills in the days afternoon practice when among the whistles blowing and pads popping, I heard a voice scream out from the other side of the bleachers. It startled me. It was not a voice that I was familiar with among coaches barking, and players chanting. The voice was an adult male. “COACH SO AND SO!” “COACH SO AND SO! WHERE ARE YOU? COME FACE ME YOU SON OF A ……..!”
There was a pause, and then the voice bellowed out again from a different place, which let me know that he was on the move towards us. “COACH! YOU HEAR ME?!! COACH SO AND SO, COME FACE ME LIKE A MAN!” The voice had cut down the distance between where it was and where we were. I was at the far end of the field, which was closest to the early bellow rather than where he was now. I saw a shadow of him, and took off in a full sprint to the place where paths needed to cross before he would face players or coaches. I wanted to be there first. I needed to be there first.
Not one part of this is heroic. In the words of the local police, I should stay away, make the call, and let them handle it. I fully understood that. Who knows if they are armed or not. They are obviously angry and moved to the point of action. Even at school, it would take a while for them to get there. So I sprinted to where he was. I never looked back.
I got to the man behind the voice. He was the father of one of the players. We kind of knew one another, but were not friends. I asked him what was going on. He said that he had issue with the head coach and how his son was being treated and slotted for playing time. (Again, we are in summer practice, and slots were not assigned yet, and certainly, this was NOT the way to handle this. Approaching a coach about playing time is a big time no no. Approaching a coach during practice, with other players around, in public, another big no no.
I explained that this was not the way to handle this. But my inner dog barked that nothing was going on without going through me. Talk to me. Talk to me, so that it just remains talking. We do not want to do more than talk. Trust me. He barked a little more and then settled into an angry rage rather than an erupting volcano. Yes, being a big dude provided some buffer. I used it.
The head coach showed up after I did. At that point, things were in discussion mode, and they went off to talk about all of it. I looked around, and noticed something. Me and the head coach were the only ones that came running. Yes, my two buddies on the staff had their eyes on my back in case I needed them, but of the 10 or so coaches, only 2 were at the stand off point. I kind of chuckled. These were football coaches. Maybe they simply wanted no part of the confrontation. Maybe they chose to stay away. Or as my two buddies told me, “We heard him bark, and before we could react, you were already in full sprint. We knew it was going to be good. ” I also know and trust that if something popped off, they had my back. No doubt. The three of us chuckled about it. Insanity. Who shows up at practice and challenges a coach?!!”
Real talk. This could have gone horribly wrong. I am thankful that God has his hands on me. The head coach said he was impressed that I reacted and rallied as I did. He also noticed who did not. So did the players on the team. The KNEW.
This is not an uncommon occurrence. Adults misbehaving, parents flying off the handle, players being emotional. It happens often. Calm heads and big hearts can often solve the problems. Often, insanity ad chaos happens. There are mountains of videos of parents fighting, referees fighting, coaches fighting, players and fans fighting. To add to that with an expectation that teachers and coaches are in control of their emotions and faculties is a reach. It only takes one adult to cause havoc. It only takes one to set hundreds of angry reactions in place. And here is this, not everyone is there to thwart nonsense. It is not what they signed up for. Its not why they are there.
I am not a stand around guy. I get that. But, I am also not an escalator either. I made a horrible mistake. I was lucky and did not pay. I did not know why he was there, nor did I know his intentions. I simply reacted. Most did not. I don’t blame them. I just know that in every case where this happens, there are those mouthy folks who say they will react, and don’t. They cant. Actions are greater than words. They require more.
Lets not add weapons to the equation. Lets add love to it. Lets add common sense. Not everyone is built for it. Not everyone cares enough to react to it in love.