Beyond The Score

Central Vermont Sports Blog

Winter Sports and Rules of Life

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(first published December 2014 but somehow got deleted . . . so including it for archives)


Every year round around the winter holidays coaches and players face the same dilemma; family activities and commitment to sport. Every parent and every player have been given a school handbook that took several people many hours of planning and designing. This handbook spells out the commitment the school has made to the students. It explains the role parents and students play when committing to participate in a sport. Consent forms, eligibility guidelines, privacy rights, hazing, substance abuse, physical risks, school/team rules, policies, and conflicts are all spelled out and commitment letters are signed by the student and parent.

Expectations are pretty straight forward but every year problems arise. Recently, I went to Stowe High School to watch a boys basketball game. The parking lot had 3 cars in it so that was a big clue that the game had been canceled. The reason – there were not enough Stowe players to play the game. Some families had decided to go on family trips, some went skiing, and who knows what other excuses were given. So traveling officials, journalists, score keepers, coaches, bus drivers, visiting team, Vermont Principals Association (VPA) and others are now all effected because some parents decided to break the contract and have their kids do something else.

I understand the importance of families doing things together and planning special trips. I don’t understand not being up front about it at the beginning of the season so everyone can plan for the changes. Other teams, coaches, schedules and league play are all effected. VPA now has to approve a make-up game or classify the game as a forfeit. A lot of people are effected by this unwillingness to abide by the signed contract and failure to inform others about your plans. Emergencies occur and are understood but this other stuff is just inconsiderate.

Players and parents that display this kind of disrespect for their school are not uncommon but it works both ways. A lack of respect for players and families by coaches and the school also come into play. Recently the Montpelier community had to deal with a very difficult tragedy. A well known former student had died. He graduated last year so many of his friends were still attending Montpelier High. The celebration of his life was on a game night. A player chose to attend the service and because she missed the game she was penalized by the coach and limited to sitting the bench much of the next game.

It’s hard to schedule practices during the holidays. One coach got some gym time at 8:15pm on Christmas Eve. Of course many families are planning events or traveling on Christmas Eve. Players that missed this practice were also penalized by not playing much in the next game.

I will not go on about the types of problems that occur in sport because of the way people interrupt their rules of life. I will say that people that create these situations do so because they are not connected to their community. They are unaware of how their decisions effect others. They are not bad people but the decisions they make can hurt others unknowingly. Knowing your community and respecting others avoids the need to be solving a lot of problems. Communication, community and character seem to make all the difference.

So what are your “rules of life” when it comes to sports? What are your priorities?

Do you think sport is just a game and everyone that participates wins?

Do you believe that each individual should strive to be the best he/she can possibility be?

Is winning important? Does winning and losing teach us anything?

I always draw from UCLA Coach John Wooden’s “Pyramid to Success.” He teaches about the joy of the journey. The 16 building blocks in his pyramid match the 16 weeks of the high school basketball season from tryouts to championship day. Wooden teaches how to develop character and how to succeed a day at a time. I’m preaching here but if we can take a lesson from Coach Wooden many of the poor decisions can be avoided.

IndustriousnessFriendship, Loyalty, Cooperation, Enthusiasm,
Self-Control, Alertness, Initiative, Intentness,
Condition, Skill, Team Spirit,
Poise, Confidence,
 Competitive Greatness

Roger Crowley /


Written by Roger

September 25, 2016 at 11:07 AM

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