By Nick Nunn, Citizen Sports Columnist
I can’t be entirely sure, but I’m pretty sure that, if you were to ask the average young sports fan which member of their favorite team they would like to be, their last impulse would be to tell you that they would like to be the team’s coach.
Let’s just take football, for example: to a young person’s mind, it would appear that the quarterback appears to make all of the decisions on the field and it is then up to one of the other “backs” to get the ball downfield.
Why would you choose to be a grumpy old coach on the sideline with a serious look on your face when you could be one of the athletes on the field that are actually making something happen?
The thrill and glory of being the one in the limelight must be quite alluring, but there is something else that, ultimately, lies in the hands of the coaching staff: control.
Ooh! The prospect of making the big decisions and of being able to outthink one’s opponent on a field of battle, thus securing victory for oneself. That sounds like the most fun to me. And I bet most people would agree with me that that’s where the real action is.
Don’t believe me? Think about it this way: your average football video game allows you to pick the play you are about to run and then gives you control of the characters. Would you rather give up the ability to call the play or the ability to control the athletes after the play has been called?
For me, at least, that’s a no contest: I’d rather call the plays. And in the video game universe, that would be fine. I wouldn’t hesitate in the least before taking control of a team. In the real world, however, that’s a different story.
To coach a team requires an amount of knowledge pertaining to tactics, strategies, plays, personalities, and histories – a veritable encyclopedia of information – that I simply cannot lay claim to. More than that, the coach has a burden on their shoulders like no one else in the sporting world.
It’s the coach that ultimately takes all of the responsibility for how well the team is able to do. If the team loses, more often than not, it is the calls of the coach that get questioned by each set of eyes that were affixed to the action.
And when the team wins, its best for the coach to appear magnanimous and give all of the credit to the athletes. Because, when it comes down to it, the coach simply could not do anything without his or her athletes.
There, we find the position of the armchair coach: without a team but retaining their voice and more than happy to share their opinion. As far as I’m concerned, I’m content with the buttons and the screen as an outlet for my desire to control. Or the occasional game of chess…