« Pinto's Points

What Happened

by Dan Gunderson

Last week, a long time coach for West Fargo High School, Jim Jonas, resigned as an assistant coach for the boy’s football and basketball teams. The reasons behind the resignation are a little fuzzy.

Jonas, from what people say, is an intense coach. Sometimes, he lets his emotions get the best of him on the sidelines. That is okay because as a coach, sometimes that happens. Does it look appealing to a fan in the stands when a coach begins to chew out a 16-year-old because he missed a block? Not really but that is sports. That is competition.

You invest so much time and energy as a coach and a player that sometimes, your emotions get the best of you. Most coaches will react to the moment and then come back to the kid and explain to them in a much calmer matter what they did wrong.

Whatever actions Jonas did, actions he has since apologized for , I am not defending them. I am more so using this example as a spring board to launch into something that I feel is much more upsetting to me and that is the treatment of athletes now days. 

Particularly, the high school athlete.

I know that when I was in high school athletics, I got my butt chewed out several times. I know that many of my teammates did. We became better athletes and teammates because of it. One of most awful coaches we had, when it came to yelling and screaming, was Mr. Meyer.

Mr. Meyer would chew us out, make us run for a whole practice if we didn’t use the backboard, swore a couple times and we all dealt with it. Did I mention he was an elementary basketball coach?

Sure, his antics were a tad bit over the top. However, one thing he drilled into us at a young age was fundamentals. He coached North Border elementary basketball for I don’t know how many years but no one raised an issue with it and not one kid had their parents make a fuss about it.

If they didn’t like it, they quit. If they wanted to play, they stuck it out. Did parents enjoy it? I can’t imagine they did but they got it. He is the coach. We are the parents. This is not life or death and in a few years it will be done with and my kid will be better because of it.

Now days, coaching high school and middle school athletics are like trying to navigate a landmine field. Don’t do this and don’t say that. This kid’s parents are on the school board and that kid’s parents donate a lot of money to the school.

Give me a break. If Jonas was my coach and I told my father that he yelled at me, my dad would have told me that I probably wasn’t doing something right. He would have also told me that he was the coach and that I needed to respect his decisions and criticism.

Frankly, I would love to go back and thank every one of my coaches from high school all the way down. You know why? Because I had a cocky attitude and thought I was better than I was. My coaches never bought into that attitude or fed the beast, so to speak.

They didn’t pander to me and coddle me. They looked at me as some teenager who thought he was better than he was and needed to be coached. I look back on it and if I wouldn’t have been such a blockhead, I probably would have gotten better.

My guess is that Jonas was the same way. He didn’t care what your name was or how good you thought you were. To him, you were a kid who needed coaching and if you screwed up you were going to hear it.

That is why there are so many former athletes of his out there wondering why he is no longer coaching basketball or football. Those athletes probably look back and realize that Jonas wasn’t trying to be mean, he was trying to teach.

I don’t think people understand that playing athletics past the elementary age is not a right, it is a privilege. It is something that you have to earn and it is not given to you. And if you think that writing unsigned letters to get rid of coaches that are actually trying to coach is going to fix things, then I am sorry but you are as lost as the child you think you’re helping.

I want to applaud coaches like Jonas. I want to applaud my coaches. I want to thank you for never babying me. I wasn’t babied at home and I did not get any special treatment in athletics. Easier lesson to learn as a teenager than it is to try and learn it as an adult in the real world.

I know that if I don’t like my bosses decision at work, my mommy and daddy are not going to be able to write or say anything that will get my boss to resign. These are the facts and you better get use to them now or you are going to be one sorry individual.

You can follow Daniel "Pinto" Gunderson on Twitter at @pintoKFGO or friend him on Facebook. You can hear him on his weekly podcast show on kfgo.com, 740thefan.com or on iTunes called “The Pinto and White Shadow Show.” Pinto is a radio producer within the Midwest Communications-Fargo company.