What Price Winning?

What’s it worth to win?

Evidently, thousands.

The report speaks for itself, and if you haven’t already viewed it, I encourage you to watch it all the way through. Even the uncomfortable parts.

I wanted to turn away when the coach was confronted about his participation in this stuff. It’s hard to take, because I admire and enjoy the company of all youth football coaches that have fun with kids, and help them, and teach the game.

But inside, a big part of you wants to win. We all know that having the best players helps you win more games. So where do you draw the line?

I think it is pretty easy for most of us to say that we wouldn’t go there. But would we invite a kid, happily playing another sport, to give football a try instead? A lot of us would. Would we spend some of our hard-earned money on a book, or software, or a DVD to help us become better as coaches? Absolutely. Football is a great sport, and a fun hobby for us as youth coaches.

But just because you’d recruit a kid away from soccer, or spend your coffee money on a DVD, it doesn’t have to mean that you have put winning above everything else. And I think that’s the key difference.

To maintain that difference though, you CAN’T make winning the most important thing.

You just can’t. If you do, you’re sliding down a very slippery slope.

Here’s an example, that isn’t nearly as dramatic as the video above.  Let’s agree that my club is pretty successful at getting sponsors, at least compared to other groups in our league. Last year we raised about $3,500 to benefit 70 kids and their families. I spent about four hours total raising that money.

With three full days of effort, could I raise $21,000? That would probably cover every expense and then some, for every kid. My recruiting message might improve with “Free Tackle Football,” don’t you think? Could I take that message to competing leagues that border my area, and recruit other football athletes into our program?

My league will be happy to let those players come in. There are paid professionals administering our league, and they’re competing for recreational dollars, just like every other league.

Could I write a book about raising sponsorship money, and using that money to recruit athletes to your youth football team? Could the money I raise from selling that book be reinvested in my club and various money-making operations in support of more winning, and more recruiting?

And when I start winning my youth league with players that I recruited from neighboring cities, that didn’t have to pay a dime to play, how will the other coaches in my league react? Will I be banned? Will other leagues form that are more ‘open’ to out-of-area players?  Will poaching from other teams and leagues soon become the accepted norm?

Will parents team-shop for the best deal, or coach or team that wins the most? Will they look for the greatest likelihood of national recognition? Will they seek out a coach that promises them a better opportunity at a college scholarship? Will they only sign on with paid coaches?

I think we already know the answer. ALL of it happens – and more, including now drug money and gambling pressure.

The point it though, that NONE of this happens, if winning isn’t paramount. If winning is secondary at best, then as a coach, parent, and player you are free to focus on other things – like having fun, and getting better at football. You enjoy a hobby, your children, and a fun activity. You get great personal satisfaction from seeing the achievements of kids.

Youth coaches that try to win at all costs aren’t working for the kids. They’re working for themselves. The NCAA and NFL have jobs for guys that are that committed, but not many youth coaches get to that level.

Coach, if your price to win is ANY price, then you are paying too much. And sadly, so are your players and their parents.

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