A recent article in the Examiner (examiner.net), titled 'Just Say Know' takes an unexpected turn, was originally expected to be a series focusing on "the pressures your child faces to use drugs and alcohol and how those pressures relate to their roles as athletes." An interesting play on words, this title, as the inference "Just Say Know" has direct reference to the phrase "Just Say No," an expression most commonly associated with saying no to drugs.
However, expectation and reality don't always coincide as Steve Curd (the author of the piece) found a much deeper issue at the heart of this topic. In regard to the series he states, "its ended up being a more comprehensive look at the world of high school sports and actually has very little to do with drugs and alcohol."
So what did Steve, and the Examiner discover?
They found that neither school officials, nor the parents, were willing to discuss, on record, the use of these substances by kids in the community. Not a big surprise to me as I am inside the school system and am aware of this type of silence, and the reasons behind it. It is a behavior indicative of why it continues to be an issue in every single community with high school age students. It is a large part of the problem. (For further thoughts on this, and a possible solution, see High School Athletes And Alcohol In The News Again: How To Make A Difference)
And Mr. Curd's take on all that he found: "We do not have a school or administration problem. We have a parenting problem."
The rest of the article goes on to support its quoted claim above as Steve places the responsibility for making a difference right at the feet of one group who needs to address it, the parents.
However, there is something else in the piece that struck me as odd; something that didn't quite fit with my way of thinking, or any coach's way of thinking, that I know of. It is the part where Steve asks:
"Why is it our schools' business to discipline our high school kids if they sneak a beer from the fridge at home on the weekend? Isn't that supposed to be our job? When exactly did we grant this excessive power to public schools and the Missouri State High School Activities Association (that we own and pay for) and why?"
And later answers his own questions with:
"... support your schools, teachers and coaches. Leave them alone and let them do their jobs. I guarantee they know a lot more about teaching and coaching than you do. In return, let's ask the schools to stick to coaching and teaching and let us raise our kids."
Hmm, interesting. On the one hand, Steve certainly supports the idea of leaving the "experts" alone to "do their jobs," but on the other, he wants to "ask the schools to stick to coaching and teaching and let us raise our kids."
I would certainly agree that parents need to raise their kids, that is, of course, part of what it means to be a parent. However, a big part of coaching, a part Steve misses completely, does center on teaching kids (in this case, athletes) that their behavior, both on and off the field, has a direct impact on others; namely their teammates and the programs of which they are a part. Athletes are not singletons where their decision to "use" impacts only them. They are a member, by choice I might add, of a group whose collective work ethic, dedication, and sacrifice should bring back to them something more than just another "W" in the win column.
So Steve, I do agree that the experts (coaches and athletic departments) should be left alone to do their jobs; however, part of that job, that responsibility, is to teach student athletes that positive choices don't end once they leave the school gym.