A video periodically surfaces on social media of a little league baseball coach heading to the pitching mound to talk to his player, who has presumably not been pitching well. Viewers can’t hear the actual audio of the coach, but a voiceover has been dubbed into the video from an onlooking dad guessing what the coach is saying.
The dad’s guesses are offensive and completely inappropriate—and funny.
“If you don’t start throwing strikes, there’s gonna be an Amber Alert out for you before the end of this game.”
“Well…you win some, and you lose some. Unless you’re on the mound, then we lose them all.”
“Do you always suck this bad, or is it just this special occasion today?”
“You better figure out when soccer tryouts are.”
“No pressure, but if you don’t strike this kid out, I’m gonna fill your pockets with meatballs and throw you in a piranha pond.”
“I know you’re only twelve, but the high school coach just texted me and you’re already cut.”
The video is meant to be satirical. It has over 11 million views and 74k reactions, the overwhelming majority of which are laughing tears emojis. I admit the video made me laugh. But it also made me cringe a little bit, because I know buried within the satire is an element of reality.
What player hasn’t experienced a coach’s sarcastic wrath? Some clichés exist because they are true. The sarcastic coach is one of them. While the coach’s words may be funny to those on the periphery, they are rarely enjoyable to their target.
I’m not trying to take anything away from the comedic nature of the video. I get that it is satire. But I think the video is so over-the-top that it makes for a good opportunity to remind coaches of the significance of the words they choose.
A coach’s words are like tattoos on a player’s soul. Be careful because even removed tattoos leave scars.
Sometimes apologies, subsequent praise, and the passing of time are not enough to erase the damage caused by hurtful words. This is a reminder that applies to not only coaches, but also to parents, teachers, bosses, or anyone in a position of authority.
One of the great ironies in sports is that coaches at the lowest levels receive the least amount of training yet possess the greatest amount of influence over their players’ lives. The lower the level, the more cautious the coach must be. Innocent sarcasm can result in unintended, lasting harm to the emotionally undeveloped.
The aforementioned video ends with the coach telling his dejected player, “Well, at least your mom still loves you.” Although it’s the final clip in the video, it’s my favorite.
Knowing that despite your shortcomings someone still loves you is comforting. This is the advantage of having good teammates on your side. No matter how poorly you play or how badly you mess up, they still love you. The unwavering support of a good teammate can inspire you to bounce back and strive to be a better version of yourself.
If you are a teammate in a position of influence, consider bypassing the sarcasm in favor of encouragement. No varsity coach will ever cut you for making that choice.
As always…Good teammates care. Good teammates share. Good teammates listen. Go be a good teammate.