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Why Loyalty Is Bad For Youth Sports And Society

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Everybody uses the word loyalty and some seem to embrace the phrase as if it had some parallel to ethics and I believe the word should be given some reconsideration by all. After being involved with many different youth athletic programs for the past several years, I have had the opportunity to observe youth leagues that are on opposite poles of the economic and social spectrum. I have coached in the wealthiest of suburban youth leagues and I've coached in inner city leagues that were in the most plighted areas where driving to and from practices made me very nervous.

The point that I'm getting at, first, is the one constant that I did observe is that loyalty was the biggest concern, and yet the biggest detriment to all of these organizations. My belief is that there really is no place for loyalty as it relates to coaching or running a  youth sports program. I will go one step further and say loyalty has no place in any athletic program, even college sports. If for instance, an assistant coach is loyal to his head coach and witnesses a criminal act done to a child and reports it only to the head coach but no one else, is that loyalty?  It might be considered loyalty to your superior, but it's not loyalty to the child, the child's parents, or the program. If  the head coach in turn reports it only to his Board but no one else, is that loyalty? Same answer.  If the Board doesn't report this same act to the authorities to try to spare the integrity of the program, is that loyalty ? You know my answer. 

I know this is an extreme example that I have laid out but we all know it's a very real situation. When coaches, youth league board members, athletic directors, principals, and school board members don't ask themselves, "Who am I loyal to?", and "Why am I loyal to them?", they will probably be crossing the line on what is ethical and will be viewed by anybody looking in from the outside as being unethical for their own self interest. 

One of the few acts of loyalty I view as proper is one spouse's loyalty to the other as it relates to fidelity. Or maybe one's loyalty to their favorite restaurant because the service is always good and they're going to get a consistent product. Or it might be the act of loyalty itself by never talking behind someones back. Whatever the case may be, loyalty should always be attached to some form of strong ethical standard and doing the right thing. Once again. I have seen too much disregard to the well-being of young athletes because of misguided loyalty that plays out in youth athletic programs.

You should never be afraid to speak your mind to anyone that's involved with youth sports if you see any wrongdoing involving a child. I have seen bad behavior from coaches directed toward young athletes, nothing that would be considered criminal, and I will tell a coach I don't approve of it. I know most coaches won't say anything to another coach when they see bad behavior because of their twisted loyalty to that coach. Would someone humor me, and just think for one minute about who your loyal to, why your loyal to them, and drop me a reply. My heart goes out to those of you who are loyal to kids.