I was recently with a sports industry client in Arizona for a few days. While there, I met with a number of different groups of people, including some professional coaches, as I had been invited to address the subject of communication and how it can play a valuable role in various relationships.
One of the coaches on hand shared some research he did, and in his work cited the views of a well-known high-school coach in Maryland, a former NFL player by the name of Joe Ehrmann.
When I read this reference, the values put forth by this youth coach resonated with me personally because I share—and try to live, though not always successfully—those values. It also stood out because it sounded familiar. Somewhere in my memory bank I knew I’d read about this individual (Ehrmann) before.
I dug through my old paper filing system and discovered an article written back in 2004 by a gentleman by the name of Jeffrey Marx, a Pulitzer prize-winning writer. Marx wrote a book about Ehrmann called “The Season of Life”.
I encourage you to “Google” these names and read what you can about Ehrmann.
While I can’t do justice to his philosophy in a few words, the article I read should be mandatory reading for youth coaches in every sport around the world. In a winning—obsessed culture, this man tries to, as the article says, lead boys to become real men, based on values and principles—not the results of a particular game.
He stresses the importance of relationships, not just on a “team”, but in terms of how the young men he coaches interact with others—members of the opposite sex, parents, family members, the world around them.
He also focuses on how young people are fed into a culture of comparisons and competition, and how this can destroy the concept of humanity.
Again, I don’t want to miss important aspects of his approach to interacting with his players, so I encourage you to check this out for yourself. It’s powerful stuff. You don’t see this approach in youth sports every day.