Opinion: Schoolwork, team size complicate coach-athlete relationships

High school sports are a great way to meet people and vamp up a college resume, all while getting fit and having fun with teammates. However, a student athlete’s sports experience can be affected by a negative relationship with a coach. Not having a close or good relationship with coaches has the potential to become a large reason to discontinue a familiar sport or to try a new sport. High school sports should be a stress reliever and a way to distract a student from the enormous school workload. If the coach and athlete have a bad relationship it could end up becoming a source of stress instead.

It’s harder to build a good relationship and be close with a coach for various reasons. Especially on big teams like the 175 member track team or the combined swim and dive team, the coaches usually won’t notice or learn your name for a while unless you stand out in a bad or good way.

If a coach is not familiar with all of the athletes on a team, it is harder for the participants to get the proper amount of attention and to expand on their skills in order to improve in their chosen sport.

Another reason a coach might not pay enough attention to certain student athletes is because coaches focus more on starting players or varsity teams. From a coaches point of view, it makes sense to focus on the athletes with most potential, but from a athletes point of view it feels like a lost opportunity to improve on skills and become a higher level athlete.

Another common conflict between coaches and athletes is about academic priorities versus team commitments. Most high schoolers have extensive lists of extra curricular activities in addition to loads of schoolwork. This causes a significant time crunch, and at some points priority about what needs to be done at what time needs to be made.

It should be that schoolwork gets priority over sports; no questions asked, but some coaches don’t think along those same lines. In most cases with varsity players, full participation for every practice is a requirement. This is an unrealistic expectation for IB students who have hours of homework waiting for them after hours of practice. Leaving practice early or missing it all together every once and a while to do schoolwork may be a sore point for some coaches, and consequences could fall upon the student athletes. Not starting in a game or not participating in a meet are common punishments for athletes if they skip practice for academic reasons. These absences are usually unavoidable and necessary, but could eventually lead to tension between a student athlete and a coach and effecting the sport experience.

These conflicts, even if minor, are reason enough to turn athletes away from doing a sport affiliated with their high school. If there is a sport in the off-season of a particular student, they might not consider doing it because of these team and coaching issues. Even if the chosen sport is the most important one to them, athletes are not getting the most out of their time if the coaches and athletes have issues with each other. The coach and athlete relationship is underrated in importance and can make or break opinions about certain sports and if they are worth doing.