Pugh’s Views: Thanks Coach.

Got a variety of things swirling around in my pea-sized cranium this morning. Most of them positive, which is a break from the norm for me. Guess I must be getting soft in my old age. (Can you just feel the sarcasm  of that last statement?!) In all seriousness, May is rapidly approaching and our thirst for football is once again quenched as we head for the Summer 7v7 and workouts. Life is good. For most anyway.

Imagine this world without a coach. Then ask yourself why they get paid so little to be so influential at this level. Something has to change.

The attrition rate in Hillsborough and Pinellas with regards to coaching positions might as well be similar to the skyrocketing oil prices. It should come as no surprise however when we pay them below minimum wage for a job that requires (in most cases) a college degree. We ask them to be parents, teachers, mentors, older brothers, and uncles. We ask, no demand that they become full-time psychologists and teenage behavioral therapists in an attempt to get maximum effort.  The demands are usually met with adequacy and in some cases overwhelming success. All of this comes with sacrifice that transcends the human spirit to me. It’s giving what is most precious to those with wives and families of their own and that’s time. Something we don’t have much anymore and something that is undervalued from an actual monetary standpoint.

I’m starting to think that the Catholic Church (of which I am a member of) should classify coaching as the perfect Lenten activity. Why? Talk about sacrificing the things you love. How about sacrificing your sanity, wife and children (if applicable), health (physical and mental), and your dignity in some cases when Johnny Superstar’s Dad confronts you over his playing time even though Johnny Superstar is about as effective as Stephen Hawking on Zoloft. All of that for $3,500 if you’re the Head Coach, and $1,500 to assist. Let’s not forget that many of these folks are teachers as well so you already KNOW what that means; that they’re getting twice the dysfunctionality for a third of what they’re worth. What’s the old adage again? ‘You get what you pay for?’

At what point do we allow for the capitalistic foundations and entrepreneural spirit of this country to take shape within this segment of sports (coaching) and create accounts dedicated to taking care of the ones that take care of our kids? Well, there’s one simple answer to that. You can’t regulate the intrinsic nature of some to be criminally greedy and that’s a problem. We’ve seen the issues at Countryside and Sickles and heard the rumors at Tampa Bay Tech. These are not isolated nor are they going away. Anytime there’s a chance of “savings da money” people will do it. Usually at the expense of those that trusted them the most which you see starts a pretty vicious cycle. Doubt we’ll get the State Legislature on board either too. So what do we do about it?

There is no substitution for the human element of caring for something that isn't your own. Coaches are shining examples of this.

We have to remember that the amount of trust, compared to the money that is dedicated to the profession is not proportionate in any way shape or form and it’s time to change that. Although we see shining examples of sacrifice and service everyday from our coaches we cannot in good faith expect someone to give 1,000% of their lives to complete strangers and expect them to effectively go about their work like it’s always going to be this way. It’s just not in our nature. After a while, unless you’re winning rings (and even that’s not enough for most) it’s just not WORTH the investment. It’s like sinking your 401K into Southwest Airlines. Yeah, they run a pretty good show, but look at the industry. You might as well light your money on fire. Same way with coaching. There’s unbelievable talent in the coaching ranks, but the industry’s fundamentals are lagging.

The coaches that seem to be the most successful at their jobs are the ones that are happy. Winning helps, but it’s the communal aspect of the program and its people, as well as the program’s willingness to show its appreciation. In other words, they’re comfortable. They feel wanted. Imagine if they could say that the job they perform could provide that same comfort level financially. Wonder what you would see then?