Doolin: ‘8 Sunday Syndrome’
By John Doolin email@example.com August 11, 2012 12:48AM
Updated: August 13, 2012 12:59PM
My plan was to write a feel-good piece on the Oak Forest Flag Football and Cheerleading program.
I wanted to check what year the program started, so I did a Google search and ended up on a Topix forum that criticized people in the program.
At the heart of the discussion were the “crazies” who coach, and the great Oak Forest debate between tackle and flag.
It amazes me how football for 7- to 13-year-olds can be such a hot topic, and how kids are judged based on their parents’ decision to play tackle or flag football.
It brought me back to a discussion I had with an old mentor of mine a couple years back.
Bill LeMonnier, a Big 10 and Arena football referee, put it best when we had the discussion on why parents get so worked up over football — not that baseball, softball, soccer, basketball and the rest don’t incite “parental riots” of their own, but football seems to be the one that gets everybody jazzed up.
Bill told me “It’s the 8 Sunday Syndrome.”
You only have eight opportunities to get it right in football or you will be eliminated from postseason play.
In baseball, softball, or basketball, you win on Tuesday, lose on Friday, win on Sunday, etc. There are enough highs and lows in a week to generally average out to parental happiness.
In football, you practice five days a week in the August heat, bring Mom, Dad, Grandma and Grandpa out on Saturday, and get in for three minutes — unless, of course, you’re better than the average player your age.
That’s why only the best kids play and you have policies and rules in the tackle league that you need only play a player four plays in any game.
Flag football has policies on play time as well. However, with only 13 or 14 players per team, everybody plays regardless of skill set.
Don’t get me wrong, this is not about one being better than the other. My boys were split: one flag and one tackle.
Youth football as a whole is in the midst of the concussion firestorm.
Coaches are divided as to how much contact there should be at the youth level. Former NFL coach and South Side native Marv Levy is quoted as saying “you don’t need to play tackle football until you’re 13 or 14, because you can learn other things about the game.”
I think there needs to be policies, seminars and regulations to ensure that volunteers have the training to make the best decisions for the players.
This is simply a seasonal reminder to those who coach, parents who shout and refs who just can’t seem to keep their hands off that bright yellow flag to keep the program in perspective.
Through the winning, losing, penalties, touchdowns, and field goals, let’s not lose sight that these are kids. They have feelings, and emotions.
It’s supposed to be fun, not a job. They don’t like being yelled at, called out and they surely don’t want to practice all week and not get a chance on Saturday or Sunday to play and show what they have learned.
It’s about building character through positive coaching techniques, and teaching good sportsmanship by example.
All too often players see coaches being thrown out of games, arguing with referees and literally spitting out expletives to players and officials.
Parents, sign your son or daughter up for the program that best fits your child’s skill set, personality and comfort level.
Coaches, coach each kid fairly, but know they all have different abilities and needs. Give them all an opportunity to shine.
Parents, grab your camp chair, cooler, friends and enjoy the game — but refrain from coaching and refereeing from the sideline.
Football is a great game, and every kid should have the opportunity to play.
Congratulations to the Oak Forest Flag Football organization on their 41st year.
Stripe the fields, put out the down markers, pass out the uniforms, turn on the lights. The boys and girls of fall are ready for a great season and it’s up to parents, coaches, referees and leagues to ensure they have one.
John Doolin is the South Division advertising director for Sun-Times Media.