Blog- Do it with Class
Coaches beware! If you haven’t experienced it you will. If you haven’t felt the stabbing pain of loss and disappointment it is just around the corner. It is not a matter of IF but only WHEN you will have your heart ripped from your chest, thrown on the floor, and kicked to the curb.
I am referring to the inevitable loss of an athlete. Some quit the sport for the long list of reasons that we all could write. Some are forced into retirement due to their bodies not cooperating with this unforgiving sport. Some move away due to their families relocating. Some decide that the grass is greener at the club down the street (the focus of this blog). Loosing an athlete is often a heart wrenching experience, yet we must all learn to deal with this in a professional manner.
Regardless of the reasons, no matter how well thought out the decision process, the exit strategy used will serve as a life lesson etched in stone. Far too often the exit is dealt with in a way that sends the message that relationships are disposable, loyalty is a matter of convenience, and emotional attachments are insignificant. The trend towards “running from conflict” or “convenience relationships” will haunt the users of this train of thought throughout life.
Now I am a big proponent of being happy where ever you train. If the program you are at fails to meet your expectations or falters in delivering the product that you as the paying customer deserve, by all means search out alternatives. This of course is after you have explored all options at your current club using the proper channels and methods of communicating your concerns.. No I am not an advocate of “club hopping” and feel that this is the overused “cop out” solution to problems, but again if all avenues have been explored and you (more specifically your athlete) are not happy, exercise your American freedom of choice. Simply put … if you are not happy and happiness is not in the foreseeable future, shop elsewhere.
Back to the “regardless of the reason”. If indeed you come to the conclusion that moving on, retiring from the sport, quitting is in your best interest at least have the maturity to handle the situation with class. We all know that children have problems when is comes to listening to adults, but one thing is for certain … they never fail to mimic our actions. If you depart in a way that disrespects the efforts put forth (sometimes for years) or the emotional investment made, you send the message to your child that THIS is proper behavior for adults. Likewise, coaches or managements must painfully accept the decision of the family in a way that shows they athlete that they are the priority in the decision (not your team score, enrollment, chances for state titles etc.).
1- Communicate your concerns- In some cases this may be a difficult situation (head strong owners/coaches), but in the worse case scenario, communicating your concerns serves a much more valuable purpose than bottling them up inside. It not only puts ownership/coaching staff on notice that their are issues, but teaches your child a valuable lesson on the importance of expressing their concerns so as to come up with a better approach.
2- Timing- Departures should be timed so as to teach the important lesson of fulfilling an obligation. Walking out in the middle of a competitive season teaches a very ugly commitment lesson and one that is sure to send the wrong message about loyalty, teamwork, and respect. I firmly believe that insisting that a child fulfills their commitment to their club, coaches, and teammates is a great lesson and one that will serve them well later in life (finishing school, toughing out the hard times, completing difficult projects etc).
3- Face to Face Meeting- If the decision to leave the sport or gym is final, then show respect for the organization and people who have invested time, effort, resources and emotion into your child. In most cases there is a significant emotional attachment to the child, respect this and exit with class. This meeting is not to rehash your reasons or validate your decision. It is simply a display of respect and appreciation for the efforts of others. It is the right thing to do. An email, a text, or a phone call is an impersonal slap in the face. Do a face to face meeting, give a hug and a thank you can walk out the door knowing you have shown your child what class is all about.
4- Don’t burn bridges- If things do not work out, I advise using the “if you don’t have anything good to say … say nothing at all approach. Speaking poorly of former programs or coaching staffs serves little purpose other than to alienate and again teach poor lessons. The reality is that not every program is for every customer (that is why there are Walmarts, Kohls, Meijers, Sams, Cosco) and knowing this the classy approach to dealing with exits is to respect the differences rather than ridicule them.
5- Settle your financial obligations- This is an issue that often times causes hard feelings. The bottom line is: IF you owe for services rendered, close your account prior to moving on. Clubs accepting new athletes should make it a professional responsibility and insist that all past financial obligations are settled (or acceptable payment arrangements made) prior to allowing club transfers into your program. This is ethically the right thing to do.
I have to admit, that I have been guilty a time or two and taken the gloves off when it comes to dealing with parents and or clubs that I feel have violated the silent and unwritten code of ethics surrounding the issue of loosing athletes, accepting athletes etc. In all cases however, my disillusionment centers around outstanding unpaid bills, or allowing (even encouraging) negative propaganda. I do have a breaking point but in all cases my intension is to remain professional and mindful of the lessons being taught.