Recently several of my athletes missed school (and practice) to participate in a march in Washington, D.C., about a social issue very important to them.
Close by, a college was spending significant money to repair a field destroyed by a 500-year flood.
At the same time, an athletic administrator was crafting policies to structure competitive opportunities for transgender athletes.
All this happening while terrible and horrible events of mass violence to schools and children hung in the air.
It can be tempting to dismiss these as issues that don’t impact our slice of the world.
As coaches, we hope and try to keep the bad news at bay, and to protect our practice and competition times.
How do we do that?
We coaches, as individuals, might be able to go media-free, ignore the news, shelter ourselves.
But our athlete, especially the younger ones, are well connected. They know about things going on in the world, often before adults do.
More than once an athlete has told me “breaking news” that I had no idea about.
Is it possible to insulate your team, practices, competitions? I don’t think so—not completely, at least.
Here’s an idea:
I’ve had success building our practices as a “get away zone.” A place to escape the craziness of the world, even just for a few moments.
I tell the athletes to look at practice as an active meditation. A place where they can step away from the swirl. Get focused on their skills. I try to make it a special place, and realize that athletes, especially youngsters often have a lot on their minds well before they come to practice.
If we can craft a place where athletes can catch their mental-breath, it might make things just a little bit better.