Joseph C. Phillips

And much is expected from these mostly untrained volunteers. Youth coaches are asked to be teachers, strategists, babysitters, nurses, and social workers.

Parents enroll their children in youth sports in hope that their children will learn physical skills that will allow them to stay active throughout their lives, that they will develop a sense of belonging, and that it will promote their moral development. In other words: Sports build character. But this vaunted character that comes from participation in organized sports does not happen by magic; picking up a ball does not automatically strengthen a child’s moral fiber. Character must be taught. And to whom does the duty fall? The youth coach.

And when there is dysfunction in a child’s home the problems tend to follow the players onto the field. When the parents are experiencing marital difficulties, when there is alcoholism or abuse, or when the family dog dies, these volunteers are still expected to persevere. With no professional training--and even less warning--youth coaches must navigate the emotional waters, continue to teach, and win on Saturday!

But, I do love it. I love seeing the eagerness in the boys’ eyes; I love hearing their young laughter; I enjoy watching the passion with which they play. I love witnessing their growth and maturation over the course of a season. And I love knowing that in some small way the work I do may contribute to their life-long love of the game of football.

So, I am going to put down my study for today. However, tomorrow I will begin watching a series of DVDs on how to teach the 44-Stack defense to 11-year old boys.

It may be selfish, but this Father’s Day I am also going to lift a glass of whatever-I-happen-to-be-drinking and salute the dads that volunteer, the fathers that take the time to learn a sport they have never played, or to re-educate themselves in a sport they have not played in years. We parents put our sons and daughters into their hands and ask that they teach our precious ones the value of hard work, the necessity of discipline, and most important, the joy of competitive sports.

God bless them, and cheers!

Joseph C. Phillips

Joseph C. Phillips is the author of “He Talk Like A White Boy” available wherever books are sold.