Taking a knee:
                I have been working with some youth football coaches over the past couple of years and this question keeps coming up When, why, and if you should take a knee at the end of the game with a lopsided score?
                My answers are always the same and always straight forward. No one gains anything by running up the score. That answers all three questions if you have an open mind. Take a knee.
                I was asked by a coach after a game if he thought I thought he was running up the score. He had stopped throwing the football and was trying to keep the score down. With a minute to go he was on the other team’s 5 yard line. He had put in his second string players and wanted to know why they shouldn’t be rewarded with a score at the end of their drive. I explained very carefully that the children would learn a much bigger life lesson if they did not score than if they did.
                Let’s analyze EXACTLY what was going to take place and the fall out in the aftermath of a decision to go for it and score. Let’s say he went ahead and called a play that resulted in a touchdown. Here is the scenario that will unfold as I see it.
                First, what was really accomplished? His team was up by 30 points and it was quite obvious that the other team could not stop them from scoring. So by scoring, the message is being sent to his team that you do not have to care for the other teams well being.
                Go ahead and score. Don’t worry about payback. Remember though, when some team does it to you, can’t complain. If you do, then you have embraced the new youth sports mantra that the rules apply to everyone but me. No real true compassion is needed. It’s a game play till the end. My needs and wants to vent frustration take the place of long term development.
                 But that begs the question of sportsmanship and fair play. Two things I believe have been devalued in youth sports and are reflected in society at large. True competition happens ONLY when the score is close, that’s when ALL sports are the most FUN! And remember, it Is always about having fun!
                Whether it be corporate decisions to overcharge consumers by putting less product in a package, but still selling it at the same price, or politicians making statements they know are not true, just trying to win, or simply the total lack of manners in a social interaction. Driving decisions, including the non use of turn signals as an example of how we are starting to value singular selfish benefits at the expense of others in our community.
                Now back to the story about the game at hand. I told the coach what a tremendous opportunity he had after the game to address his team. Wouldn’t it be much easier and much more beneficial if you talked about what it is that you did at the end of the game and how you would like to be treated?                  Instead of having to explain what you did, making excuses which your players are probably going to model in their everyday lives, after they have left the team. You will probably incur the wrath of the other team and parents.
                Simply taking a knee shows you respect the integrity of the game. It demonstrates to the kids on the team and the parents in the stands that one more score is not going to prove anything except that you are better by 36 points that day instead of thirty. Modeling that kind of behavior sends so many positive messages to children that it can never be underrated.
                 I told him you also have the chance, after the game is over, and your talk is finished with the kids, to pass along a subtle message to all the parents and fans in attendance that day. It’s just a game. We are all part of a community, and taking advantage of another person’s weakness only gives you a false sense of worth and accomplishment.
                If you do not think the refs notice this and file it away in their memory banks, you haven’t talked too many of them as I have. Watch the calls. Watch the refs’ body language. They get it.
                 I am sure you have seen coaches talk to their teams after a game your child has played. Some of these talks last twenty minutes and during these talks the children can be seen looking around and wondering how much longer they must endure this. Multiple coaches speak, thus confusing the situation, or just going over old ground presented in a different way.
                I asked the coaches if you they at work, and after their eight hour day was over, would they want the boss to come lecture them about the day? Would they want sit at their desk and be reminded if what mistakes they made that day? Oh, and now that you have been told what you did wrong that day, go home and think about it.
Take a knee
            V.J. Stanley has a website Frozenshorts.com. You can follow him on twitter @VJJStanley, or on facebook at frozenshorts. His email address is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. He is available for speaking engagements, coaching clinics and workshops, and one on one consultations.