Daily Short-hOPT: The Book vs. The Cover

“Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one’s own beliefs. Rather it condemns the oppression or persecution of others.” – John F. Kennedy

One of the great debates I’ve seen with coaches over the last few years is old school vs. new school mentality. What I’ve learned personally is that, sometimes, as coaches, we do things because we were taught to do them, but we don’t necessarily think about what benefit (or lack thereof) they possess. 

For example, when I was in middle school, I had a friend that was in 8th grade that just made the JV baseball team. This guy was an excellent ball player, but he didn’t necessarily “look the part”. He had long hair and an earring. When congratulating him on making the team, he mentioned that he was a bit bummed out because he had to cut his hair to keep his spot. I didn’t really understand that. I just assumed it was part of the gig. But, looking back, I just wonder, what was the point of that? Did cutting his hair change him into something else? Did he suddenly become a “better” human being because his hair was shorter? Somehow, I doubt it. 

We’ve heard the old adage “don’t judge a book by its cover” a million times, but we tend to put parameters on it; “don’t judge a book by its cover as long as the cover is what we deem to be appropriate.” It doesn’t work. The kids that we coach and mentor are struggling to find their way, so, instead of telling them that they need to look and dress a certain way, how about we guide them into being good people who make good decisions? Maybe we explain to them that tolerance and acceptance of people is important, and stress the idea that it is imperative to work to serve others. Doesn’t that make more sense than a hair cut? 

I know a lot of coaches that still believe in that old school method. My question to them is this: why? I assume the argument is that they are attempting to make them understand that perception is a big factor in life and how you appear to others affects this. I get that. But, I’d argue that, instead of judging by what we see, maybe we take the time to understand before passing judgment. 

Let’s try to not define what the cover should be before we judge it. 

Or, better yet, let’s try not to judge at all

Have an awesome Monday,


3 thoughts on “Daily Short-hOPT: The Book vs. The Cover

  1. The Duck Dynasty crew is doing a great job of proving your point in big ways. Old school coaches seem to see long hair, etc. as a sign of individuality that hurts the concept of team (but on middle school level?). Or maybe cutting one’s hair is a symbol of commitment to the team? I’m not an “old-school” coach but I did had to talk myself down when 8th grade boys basketball players started wearing pink, orange, and glowing yellow shoes & socks. Appearance isn’t important but in an ESPN highlight world you still have to guard against the “hey everybody look at me” playing habits and attitudes. Until that pops up, I guess I will let the pink shoes pass. And experience says that maybe the kids with the wildest hair and fashion would develop better with a style of coaching that doesn’t fit the old school mold.

    • I can definitely see that side of things. It could certainly become a distraction if that “individuality” is all style and no substance. I wouldn’t agree with it in a “look at me” kind of way, but an expression of individuality should be respected. I think what I don’t agree with most is that we should look a certain way in order for us to be accepted by others. That drives me nuts. Or, worse (in my opinion), that all team members should be stripped of personality in order to please the coach’s view of what a young man should look like. I find it counterproductive.

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting. We appreciate it!

      • Good reads. You nailed it. And you gave me a great idea for my next blog post (clown shoe pictures included). Not stealing your idea but definitely spinning off of it. Thanks.

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