Dear Athletic Support: One of my children’s junior high coaches has been making very strong political posts on his social media page. I’m trying to keep this as vague as possible to keep from getting anyone in trouble, but please, hear me out. Back when I was in school, teachers, coaches, principals, etc… all tried very hard to keep from pushing their political viewpoints on kids. I can remember sitting in a civics class, talking about the two different parties, and one of my classmates asked our teacher which side he was on. This teacher skillfully avoided the question, turning the conversation back to the facts about the two parties. That doesn’t seem to be the case today. The coach I mentioned earlier isn’t the only public school employee I’ve seen making political posts online. And these aren’t just run-of-the-mill posts, they’re flagrant, extreme viewpoints that, in my opinion, could seriously impact the mind of a 13-year-old. I can’t help but wonder if this coach is sharing these same thoughts with the players in the locker room or on the long bus rides to games. As you can probably imagine, I don’t think that’s right, but I’m not sure what to do about it. Thoughts?
—Keep Your Politics Private, Coach
Dear Politics: Coaches should coach. Teachers should teach. And any sort of personal opinions regarding politics should be kept — you guessed it — personal.
Believe it or not, not everyone believes the same thing. Take these numbers for example: In the 2020 presidential election, 760,647 Arkansans voted for Donald Trump, compared to the 423,932 who casted their votes for Joe Biden (sidenote: Kanye West received 4,099 votes).
I share those numbers to highlight my point that there are a wide array of political viewpoints in Arkansas. I have no way of knowing the nature of these posts made by your child’s coach, or which party this guy aligns with, and I thank you for omitting that information.
Because promoting one party or the other doesn’t matter when it comes to kids! A coach has no business pushing his own political agenda on his players. By nature, a coach is in a position of power. If he/she chooses to abuse that power and promote a certain political viewpoint, well, that’s just wrong.
If a player trusts a coach/teacher to come to them and ask how they feel about a certain issue, then that’s different. That means the child trusts this person. The adult should, however, still be careful to keep from swaying the child one way or another. Just offer your thoughts and let the kid come to a conclusion of their own.
But what can you do about this coach and his social media blitz? As long as he isn’t making obscene or lewd posts, probably not much. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, let’s just hope this guy’s smart enough to keep those opinions to himself when it comes to the kids.
Eli Cranor is a former professional quarterback and coach turned award-winning author. Send questions for “Athletic Support” to email@example.com