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Sectional Avoidance

Sectional Avoidance


Over the last decade I have heard this expression repeated by coaches, players, parents, and administrators. “If things work out we can avoid playing “X” in the Sectionals until we or they get to the finals. This is modeling behavior that is simply another form of entitlement that puts winning at all cots above  the journey.


Now I freely admit that I am old school. I’d rather play the best team we could play 10 times in a season, than the worse team once. You don’t learn anything beating up on teams and you certainly don’t get pressure, stressed filled situations to learn from.


 I believe in life skills, humility, sacrifice, and teamwork as in integral part of a team, and a player’s journey through youth and high school sports. As a coach and a player I always tried to make sure that everyone on my team was included in everything that we did. I played wherever the coach needed me and I offered to play with anyone on our team.


I was very fortunate to receive the very first sportsmanship award at my high school.  I volunteered to play defense the year after I won the league scoring title. We only had two returning defensemen, and our team was in a bind. I ended up playing the whole game, every game, while the other 2 defensemen rotated.


 My late great father and wonderful mother had instilled in me the philosophy of caring for others, sacrifice, leadership, and sharing. They also encouraged me to play with older children and better competition. Those older children in our neighborhood mentored me, pushed me, but not once ever excluded me form the countless pickup games we played in multiple sports. I never forgot those lessons learned.


 V.J. Sr. said to me on many occasions: “If you want to be the best, you have to play the best.”


Now, with winning, no matter what level, what time of year, and always with background noise of “I’m a winner”, so I must play and coach to win, no matter what the cost” reverberates throughout youth and high school sports. Schools will drop down a division, avoid certain teams, play a lighter schedule all the while never understanding the incredibly poor modeling example they are presenting to our children. Then they are surprised when the kids act up. I say I’m surprised that you’re surprised.


It’s ironic to me when I hear adults talk about DI athletic scholarships and teaching kids how to win and lose. (Something they don’t know how to do) But in college, for the most part, we try to play the very best competition we can find. Oh sure there are some games played at the very elite DI level for $$, but most college coaches want the best competition they can play. It’s how you find out who can play, and it’s also the best way for your team to improve.

So when I hear coaches, parents, players, and administrators talking about missing a team in sectionals, I just can’t figure out how they can justify setting that example to the children. Winning over competition without understanding the long term ramifications is so foreign to me it sure sounds a lot like another form of entitlement to me.

Written by : VJS