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Athletic competition among teenagers and pre adolescent individuals is more popular than ever. Millions of young men and women will anxiously join organized sports for a wide array of reasons this year. And to an alarming degree, the actions of the professional athletes are copied to a larger degree than ever before by an adoring, almost god-like worship by these teenage athletes. When I was playing organized sports growing up, the actions of professional athletes did not incite repetition within my own personal actions.  The Baseball strike of 1994 discussed me and I vowed that I would not patronize any baseball facility for at least a decade. However, even though I was not in danger of copying the selfish and self absorbed actions of the majority of athletes on the professional level,I did not put sports in the proper perspective. During my entire high school career, the only thing that I cared about was sports and placed way too much importance was placed on my success on the playing field instead of in the classroom. As a result, my actions in the pursuit of these goals was with a wild and reckless abandon. This served as the source of much more drama in my life than should have been. This is a result of my own shortsightedness but also, at such a young age, it is the responsibility of the manager of coach to put the sport in perspective and not to make it a matter of life and death, while at the same time, realizing that a great number of lessons can be learned on the field of play. Sports is not life or death but sports can teach more about life than perhaps any other institution that a high school student would be willing to listen to and respect.While in high school, I did not feel as though I was unique in the fact that sports was placed very high on my list of priorities. I worked very hard at football; spending the summers in the gym and running at night while my friends were at parties. I studied the science of the game of football and as a result, received a number of honors and enjoyed success on the football field that would have eluded me had I not made the effort. However, during that time, I was receiving low marks in my classes. I was not a bad child but no matter how my parents pleaded with me to try harder in school, I was at the age where I only cared about football and baseball. That was my world. A coach, during this time in a student’s life, has a unique and undeniable influence on these students. If an athlete is misbehaving in school and the teacher of the class has no effect upon his behavior, often times, the coach is informed and the behaviors often cease immediately.As a coach, I would remember how much influence my coaches had on me at a time when I was too stubborn to listen to my parents and to take notice of their advice. Also, a coach does not have the restrictions that a teacher in the classroom has concerning behavior. In many schools, teachers are not allowed to fail students and keep them back a grade as it might adversely influence their fragile self esteem. (Johnson, 1999 p. 43) Everything is sugarcoated and made politically correct in order to save the student from  feelings of failure and subsequently, are lost when they reach the real world. A coach, a well meaning coach, realizes that 99.9% of the athletes that they coach will never reach the professional level in that respective sport. Therefore, it relies upon the coach, especially when there is not father present in the athlete’s home, to be the one who can shape children into men. Protecting a frail ego is doing a disservice to the student who is on a path of failure and resentment once he graduates high school and wonders what he is to do with his life.This all too common reality is avoided through tough love and being their instructor and an important authority figure much more than their friend. The most obvious way in doing this is being an example to your athletes. (Mariatte, 1998 p 345) When an athlete has a level of self respect that outside influences cannot touch, he cannot help but respect more out of himself and to adhere to his responsibilities than his friends who are unmotivated and have no clearly defined goals as no one had cared enough to get in his face and make him answer some tough questions about himself.  Such an individual will fulfill his rights and responsibilities to his boss, his wife and children and society before he listens to his own personal wants and needs when he becomes a man. But this does not happen overnight and there are more impediments to this becoming a reality in our modern society than ever before. “But as is the case with most things in life, daunting obstacles can often times be overcome through hard work and a consular vision to succeed.”(Verducci, 2002 p. 23)  The few people who have this within their personality, did not stumble upon it one day by accident. But as with the building up of one’s muscle, the fibers, or bad habits, must first be torn in order to them be ready to be built up again.Also, the old fashioned ways of instilling this level of respect and morals into students in an immoral world, works the best. In doing this, the coaches, whether it be the head coach, the offensive coordinator or even the special teams coach is to be addressed as Sir, or Coach. There is to be no complaining, no arguing with officials or outwards expressions of disgust while on the field of play. There is to be no demeaning of one’s opponent when scoring a touchdown or hitting a home run. Students are to place their school work first and the sport second. It also must be explained that organized sports, especially football and the six hour practices during the hot summer in the hottest weeks of August, when one’s friends are sleeping in or lounging at the pool, is not for everyone and therefore, the one’s who decide to aspire to something better and more fulfilling, as is the case in real life, need to be prepared to make certain sacrifices. Parties where irresponsible behavior monopolizes the actions of those attending, are to be avoided at all costs. There is to be no drinking, drugs or smoking and a strict diet needs to be enforced. And lastly, the coach is to be prepared to lead by example in all things.The reason for this is two fold: First, these requirements give the athlete and therefore the team, the best chance of winning. Student athletes join a sport for the friendship of their fellow classmates but also to feel the joy of success; a feeling that the most successful in life come to crave. But much more importantly, this extra effort, and more importantly, a strong moral code, coupled with high expectations and demands, aid in the transition that these young men must make if they are to be successful in adulthood. To be a success as an adult, and this does not necessarily mean financial success, one must be prepared to make the sacrifices in the obtaining of a goal.Even though my beliefs and actions are religiously based, I would be careful not to preach to my boys, but rather lead by example as well as providing clear cut demands and expectations about their conduct while on this team and in the off season. For those who are willing to make these sacrifices, I must be able to show them, the immediate as well as the long term benefits that come with such sacrifices and to make it obvious that I care for them as individuals much more than athletes. Young men, despite what is seen in the news and by a certain percentage of educators in our public schools, desperately require and hunger for old fashioned discipline and to be challenged. Millions of young men are growing up without a father and as a result, are much more likely to abandon their family as their fathers once did. Showing that a coach cares for them, not by being their friend or giving in to whatever they want, but expecting from them nothing less than their best and prompting the athlete, no matter how annoyed he is at the process, to expect the same from himself, is the secret to bringing success to the athlete on and off the field of play. 

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