Stay-at-Home Dad: Sure, I’ll Do it

Here, I share the tale of my brief but ongoing coaching career...

Before retailers caught on about  (and now Black Thursday evening), Thanksgiving Day was a time set aside for family gatherings. Although different people may observe the holiday in their own ways, it usually focuses on things that you and your loved ones are thankful for. You get to reflect over copious amounts of food, and then if you can get up from the table, you waddle your freshly-stuffed body over to the couch to watch some football.

Professional football has evolved into a sport of giants, with almost half of the players now tipping the scales at over 300 pounds -- and maybe a few more than that the day after their Thanksgiving meal. But football has great roots, and is truly a wonderful sport for young kids to learn from about teamwork and sportsmanship.

Unfortunately, Westchester football has taken a back seat to soccer in popularity, and a lot of it has to do with the fact that some parents think that soccer is a safer sport. Statistically it isn’t, no matter what the lady driving the minivan says, or thinks. I once was asked to be an assistant football coach, and I jumped at the opportunity. I even went out to buy a whistle and a pair of those really ugly coaching shorts that NO ONE looks good in -- especially me!

Granted, there are parents who are much better suited to coach youth sports than I am. However, when they don’t volunteer, I get the all-too-familiar shout out. “Hey Jack, do you want to coach some basketball?” At first, I may think that the New York Knicks are finally giving me the proverbial call, but then I remember that I pretty much know nothing about the sport.  

Come to think of it, everything that I learned about team sports came form my Atari 2600! This limited knowledge worked well when I was coaching Kindergarten tee-ball, but as the children get older, I am looking more and more like a buffoon.  

Ironically, I have coached football, baseball and basketball, whereas my range of expertise would have me far better suited for the country club activities that I grew up with. After years of countless lessons, I play an average game of golf and even worse, tennis. Heck, the only thing I learned from my childhood was which bourbon makes the best Manhattan.  

My “big” team sport experience came when I played junior varsity football. My mother had trouble spotting me on the field, so she got me a pair of bright yellow socks to wear. The only problem was that my team colors were red and black. Come game day, I looked like the stupid flag of Germany!

I believe the reason that I am continually called on is my laid-back attitude and the fact that I put sportsmanship before everything else. I expect my players to be good sports, and I even try to pass that philosophy along to the parents --  although around Westchester, something as simple as a soccer practice brings out one more overlooked violent, ornery group of hooligans…the grandparents.  

Man, what a wound-up group of crazies these septuagenarians can be. I remember having a heated argument with a foul-mouthed granny at one of her grandson’s practices. She was yelling and screaming like she was having flashbacks from an Ali title fight back in the day, and I walked over and informed her that it was just a practice. 

Well, she clearly wanted to hear nothing from me and “politely” asked me to move on. I know that some people live through their children, but I can’t yet comprehend how others really revel in the achievements of their grandchildren, no matter how mundane or average they may be. I guess that some people just take things, including Municipal Recreation League Division “C” kickball, too darn seriously.

I think sports, like everything else in life, has to be treated with a little perspective. If you are out to have a good time and try to include everybody, then everyone is a winner. 

Especially if they get a free T-shirt!


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