Watch how they play, not how they act…

As I sit here and watch the NFL Divisional Playoffs, it honestly amazes me the amount of trash talking and jawing that goes on between the white lines.  The extra shoves and pushes, the blatant facemask to facemask verbal spouting towards one another and heck even a fist flies every now and then.
I completely understand the brutality of the sport and have no problem with the hard hits and great physicality that these players exhibit.  Some of the things that go on in the piles on that field are better left unsaid.  I was always one of the smallest players on the field, so I received my fair share of punishments while playing this great game, but it is all the crap, for lack of a better term, that goes on out there that really bothers me.
I am not writing this blog to say how things should change in the NFL, they are paid athletes performing at a high level for entertainment purposes.  That is all the NFL is right, entertainment?  These athletic specimens are out there to put on the best possible show that they can for the millions of people that are watching.  Professional sports are in existence to display the talents of these athletes.  Don’t tell the athletes that, they are obviously there to win championships, but they better look good doing it!
The actual reason I bring up the topic of how these players are behaving is because I am currently trying to develop the character of my high school athletes.  These are the exact type of actions that I am trying to eliminate in our players on the field.  Ninety-eight percent of the time our players act like that on the field during our games, it cost our team fifteen yards and sometimes more.  So how do you explain to your athletes that their actions are inappropriate when they see it every Sunday and sometimes even on Saturdays.
Watch how they play, not how they act… One of my favorite things about watching higher level football players perform is learning from them.  How they make cuts, keep their eyes up, see the gaps, spin, juke and play tough play after play.  I often times am watching a game and I will text some of my players and tell them to turn on the game and watch a particular player run the ball.  To have the ability to watch these superior athletes on the field each weekend is a learning opportunity for young players.  Watch how they play between the whistles not after.  I am not saying that there are not men of character out on those fields every weekend, because there are, but often times we see the negative behaviors over the positive ones.
It is important to remember that your young athletes are seeing these behaviors on these broadcasts every weekend. Remind them that while they are watching, pay close attention to how those athletes are playing football but pay no regards to how they are acting.  Not every big play deserves a celebration.  Not every tough run should be capped off by trash talking.  Just because you made a catch over the middle, does not give you reason to taunt the defensive back who was guarding you.  Your big hit was great, but standing over the man you just put on his back does not add to athleticism you just displayed.
How do you handle players that taunt or trash talk?  What are fair repercussions to athlete’s behaviors on the field or in practice?  Is it competitiveness or just plain bad attitudes? Email me your thoughts…
Sherman Taunting
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3 responses to “Watch how they play, not how they act…

  1. Great post, Daniel!

    I had similar feelings watching the 49ers game this past weekend. As a Bay Area native, I was ecstatic to see my team come out on top, but I couldn’t help but feel a little ashamed of some of my favorite players’ behavior on the field. At first I thought I was being overly sensitive, with my “Midwest values” and, now notorious, Cardinal Nation politeness, but then I thought about the Niner teams of the past. The Montana/Young era dynasty was always heralded as a cut above the rest in regards to character and class, especially when compared to their rival Cowboys, with their seemingly ever-present sex and drug scandals. The team I watched this weekend seemed like a bunch of young kids with more talent than brains who still have to learn how to deal with their own success. – J. Moore

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