A Sport of Love Pt I: Wise Words
Eddie Robinson (1919-2007)
Grambling State University Head Coach, 1941-1997
There are many aspects of football that seem odd to those who have never existed within the walls of its inner-sanctum. None seems odder than the position of love in such a violent and aggressive sport. Yet, at least on the high school level, the sport’s violence and aggression is a manifestation of something else, something much more complex. Think about it for a second. What is it that every coach across the nation preaches in one form or another? Sacrifice for team. Allegiance to a concept greater than oneself. This is a leap that cannot happen without a complete understanding of the fact that this allegiance, this willingness to sacrifice, is simply another way to term love. The false machismo surrounding American sport forbids us (or at least conditions us) from deeming love as a concept worth including in a football program, let alone making it a cornerstone. It is unfortunate that those coaches who blindly subscribe to this conditioning miss two enormous aspects of coaching football. Firstly, as Coach Robinson’s words highlight for us, they have entirely missed the point of coaching as a profession. Our mission as coaches is to improve those around us, to make anyone involved in the game better at their task and to help facilitate their transition into rational, capable, passionate, and empowered adults. Secondly, and more pragmatically, they have missed what is perhaps the most powerful weapon within a sport that, in its constant comparison to warfare, requires multiple weapons. Love is the A Bomb of weapons. Forget that, it’s the H Bomb of weapons. Establish it and opponents will fall.
Coach Q, a.k.a Yann Kumin, is President of Operations for the Boston Institute of Football and Assistant Head Coach for the D1 Malden Catholic Lancers.
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