Athletes and parents in the Pine River-Backus School District breathed a sigh of relief when the school board recently voted 6-1 to hire all fall coaches.
Fall practices were scheduled to begin Monday and unless an earlier 4-3 vote to delay hiring the coaches was reversed the athletes would be without coaches.
Some board members had cited inconsistencies in coaches' conduct and the need to evaluate coaches on an individual basis. These two complaints were among those raised by one of the board members who voted to delay the contracts:
-- Coaches create unnecessary tension by bringing younger athletes up to varsity and forcing athletes to quit by not giving them enough playing time.
-- Coaches give A's to their players in order to keep them eligible.
Of these allegations, the latter one is the most serious. All students should be graded on their academic performance. No evidence or specific information about improper grading was offered by the school board member. If any evidence exists that this charge is true it should immediately be brought to the attention of school administrators.
The complaint about playing younger athletes and limiting the playing time of older athletes is one that should be addressed by a coaching staff and not the school board. Once eligibility requirements for a team are established any decision on playing time and personnel should be made by the coaches. Those decisions won't always be popular but that's all part of a coach's job. Many parents seem to have lost sight of that fact.
Coaches aren't perfect. Coaches aren't always right. But, as long as they treat all athletes fairly their personnel decisions shouldn't be overruled by administrators or school boards.
Even with a less than stellar coach young people will learn how to work as part of a team toward mutual goals. Certainly, when they're in the working world no one can promise them their superiors will always make the right choices. Learning to work with imperfect people is all part of any student's education.
Let coaches coach. Let kids play to the best of their abilities. The won-loss records will fall into place and will only measure a fraction of what the athletes learned in their athletic endeavors.
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