To this coach, kids' sports are a matter of life and Green Death
Get a load of
In Boston, you know, green is all-purpose. The Green Monster. The Celtics uniforms. The subway line that takes you to Boylston Street. Kinahan must have thought he was safe, masking "death" with "green."
This is what Kinahan wrote late last month in an
Forget for a moment that in the history of organized team sports for the Under-8 crowd (maybe the old way, disorganized pick-up sports, was better) there has never been a little athlete who has ever confused his or her team for his or her family. It couldn't happen. The 7-and-under group knows better. The real question is: Why would a coach possibly want to use the word
Coach K has an answer for that. (He has an answer for everything, in his e-mails to his team, at least -- on the advice of his lawyer he declined to comment to SI.com this week.) He wants his girls to "kick ass and take names on the field, off the field and throughout their lives." You know, the old sport-as-battle metaphor. You may view this message as unfortunate, owing to the fact that in the history of the world men have started a disproportionate number of heinous wars. Women, god bless 'em, are our best chance for world peace.
What's also unfortunate is that, in his welcoming e-mail to the Team 7 parents, Kinahan shows that he has game and passion. The text of his e-mail is well-written and, once you can weed out the nonsense, he makes some valid and interesting points. His mocking tone is spot-on. He writes, "After listening to the head of the referees drone on for about 30 minutes on the dangers of jewelry (time which I will never get back), no player will be allowed to play with pierced ears, hairclips, etc." Anybody who has ever been held hostage in that kind of setting -- and that's pretty much everybody -- knows how insufferable some people can be when given just a taste of authority.
But the shame of Coach K is that he can't control his own preachiness. He writes, "America's youth is becoming fat, lazy and non-competitive because competition is viewed as 'bad.'" American kids are becoming fat and lazy because American kids eat too much and play too much PlayStation. Overbearing coaches and parents have sapped the fun out of kids' sports so that, by the age of seven, about the only kids who want to play team sports are kids who are very good at them or kids being pushed into them by overeager parents. Other kids are shunted aside. Lazy? At what pool of kids is Coach K looking? The process for an American kid to get into an American college has never been more ruthless than it is today. The lazy Sunday afternoon is a vague memory, like grandmother's pot roast.
Kinahan's e-mail took on a life of its own in greater Scituate, and certainly part of the reason why is that the subject of kids' sports seems to rob people of their sense of humor. At times Kinahan is clearly trying to be funny. He writes, "I expect that the ladies be put on a diet of fish, undercooked red meat and lots of veggies. No junk food. Protein shakes are encouraged, and while blood doping and HGH use is frowned upon, there is no testing policy." If you find that kind of humor offensive, you're probably the over-protective parent of a U-8 soccer player.
But the satirist should never take himself too seriously, and Coach K does. He writes, "We do not cater to superstars, but prefer the gritty determination of journeymen who bring their lunch pail to work every week, chase every ball and dig in corners like a
Predictably, in an age when people file suits after spilling hot coffee on themselves, the coach's little missive turned into a firestorm. Parents read it, passed it on to other parents. It got in the local paper,
Last week, in his
The final line of his letter is, "Go Green Death!"
A funnier kicker to that letter might have been, "Go Team 7!" But the guess here is that humor, in the end, wasn't what Coach K was looking for. He was looking for W's. The more the better. As if winning is what a 6- and 7-year-old soccer players should worry about most. And, really, it's not -- is it?