Rules are a way of life. We have rules (laws) to follow in every organized civilization, corporation, or organization. There has to be a form of structure that helps prevent chaos. Rules for athletes are sometimes the first steps that an individual has to adhere to in life.
Rules are a necessity. They have to fair to each individual. There also has to be consequences when they are not kept or are broken. I have often heard the phrase “Bend the Rules.” To me, bending the rules is breaking them. If you can’t maintain the consequences when someone breaks a rule, then why have a rule at all.
One of the biggest problems with our society today is that people try to find a way to circumvent the rules. You need to look no farther than our professional sports. The factor that steroids plays in our society today is amazing. It is a given fact, that people will cheat to get an unfair advantage. It is done in Pro sports, at work, at home, and even in schools.
Despite society, coaches at all levels of school have to have some form of organization, and structure for the purpose of control. If you are a coach or an athletic director, here are some important things to consider.
Whatever rules you may establish, be sure that they are published and handed out to everyone that they might affect. They go to athletes, parents, administrators, teachers, and the other coaches as well. In some cases, it is a good idea to review them one at a time with all involved and have them sign that they understand each rule and the consequences when one is broke. This way, you are protecting yourself and the integrity of the rules. Once you have done this, post them so that they can be viewed regularly.
It is important that the rules are consistent with the other programs and teams that you influence or control. There may be additional rules because of certain circumstances, however, the basic core rules should be the same as is the consequences. Here are a few rules to keep in consideration for young athletes. I list them in no particular order. I also don’t list the consequences because all organizations are different.
No smoking, alcohol, or drugs. Be on time every time. If you get injured, let the coach know immediately. Dress properly for participation. Keep yourself cleaned and groomed. No jewelry will be worn during practice or a game. If you must miss a practice, talk to the coach before hand not the day of practice or a game. No use of profanity or bullying will be tolerated. Never leave the practice area without permission (This goes for restroom use as well). Keep all valuables locked up and secure. If you can’t lock things up, take them with you where they can be viewed. Do not use another persons’ belongings. This was considered a form of stealing.
Establish a reasonable curfew. I had a list of all my players phone numbers. I would call their home the night before a game to see if they were there. I would talk to them personally. Yes, they can lie but, if the parents are there, then it falls on their shoulders for responsibility. Many times I would ask to speak to the parents briefly. I never told anyone when or who I would call. However, parents would communicate to other parents if I did call. This kept everybody on their toes. Many parents loved me for doing this. It sort of added to control over their children. But do keep the curfew reasonable and do make those calls.
When visiting another school, I never permitted my players to go anywhere alone. They always went in groups of three. No excuses on this rule. It would keep them out of trouble or the possibility of getting in an area that they shouldn’t.
If parents wanted to take a child home after a game, I made them sign a release paper. The last thing that I wanted was players riding home with their boy or girl friends. Notes weren’t good enough. I had to physically see the parent first. If we had a team bus, I would ride at the back of the bus so that I could view everything in front of me. When the bus arrived at home, we turned on the lights, and checked the bus for trash as well as damage. There are many schools that have rules about eating or drinking on a bus. Each school is different. Some coaches prefer seating charts.
As a male coach, I had captains that my players could communicate with if they felt uneasy with me. My captains then would relay only what they thought I should know. Needless to say , I had a lot of trust in my captains. My captains had an open line of communication with each player. If they asked that certain areas stayed private, it was the captains decision to make that call. However, it was understood that if it dealt with a players welfare, then confidentiality was out.
Then I had one final rule that would cover things that I might miss. “Do not do anything that would embarrass you, your school, coach, or team.” If a certain rule was in a gray area, this rule would usually cover it.
Rules are necessary. Without them, would be chaotic.