- Rick Jones
Non-Negotiables (part two)
Our players have been good about adjusting to life during the virus. Coach Drinkwitz has a philosophy of going 1-0 every week. That motto has served us well. He is always telling us the “next play” is all that matters because it is the only play you can do anything about. We must continue to focus on having a “next play” mentality as we look forward to the next few weeks of our season. We are going to put all of our effort, energy, and attention on making “today” the very best we can.
As I mentioned in the last Tiger Notes, we had a few “non-negotiables” as a high school football program. Last week, we talked about attendance, being on time, respect, and drug and alcohol. This week, we will talk about a few more of what we considered to be “non-negotiables”.
5. IF YOU QUIT FOOTBALL at anytime after your 9th grade season is over, you will not be allowed to come back to the football program for the remainder of your junior high or high school career. This was a very harsh rule that might seem to go against our belief football is one of the best things a young man can do during his junior high and high school years. The longer I coached, the more I came to believe many of our players didn’t connect their present decisions with their future success or failure. Decisions have consequences. Most of these players, after their 9th grade football season, were driving or getting ready to have a driver’s license. At that point in a boy’s life, his life and the lives of others are dependent upon his decisions. Your decision to quit football means that you will not play football at Greenwood High School. Over the years, this policy has helped many of our players avoid quitting when times where tough. Anyone that played football as a sophomore in high school knows what I am talking about. Learning not to quit when times are tough is a great lesson we can teach our players. We have also had a number of players transfer to other schools to play and I have always signed the transfer papers for them to be eligible at the new school.
There is a longer version to this “non-negotiable” I will be happy to visit with you about if you give me a call or shoot me an email. I’m an not saying YOU should have this rule. I’m just saying we did. We did make a 24 hour rule exception. If you quit football, but came back within 24 hours and asked for reinstatement, 99.9% of the time, it would be granted. Quitting football would always involve communication with the parent or parents. The parents had signed the policy and the expectation sheet as well, so everyone knew the rules. We didn’t start the no quit rule until their 9th grade football season ended, because parents, transportation, and difficult circumstances might prevent our 7th and 8th graders from participation in football.
6. OUR PLAYERS MUST BE ELIGIBLE. While each state and/or school district has their own rules for eligibility, it is obvious the most important thing our football team has to do is to make the best of the educational opportunities afforded to them. In Arkansas, the state requirement dealt for football eligibility was based on the Spring semester. Our eligibility policy was the requirements were in place for football players both semesters. We had mandatory study hall on Thursdays after practice for every player below a 3.0. We also had study hall during our 7th hour athletic period any time for some reason we weren’t working out. The last year we were there, we had 12 players out of 96 that had below a 3.0. They did not like attending study hall when their buddies were free to go. We were lucky members of our staff taught Math, Science, and Social Studies to help our guys during these study halls.
7. PLAYERS WERE EXPECTED TO TELL THE TRUTH at all times. Our players never brought notes from parents. Parents could not call in for their sons. Each player had the responsibility to communicate with the coaching staff directly. We called it the “eyeball” policy. If a player looked us in the eye and told us something, we would respond as if he were telling the truth. If a player was caught in a lie, he would no longer be under the “eyeball” policy and he would have to have EVERYTHING confirmed by his parents or doctors in writing or via phone calls. We would usually have several guys in this situation every year. After a number of months of good behavior, we might let the player back into the “eyeball” policy.
8. PLAYERS WERE EXPECTED TO USE SOCIAL MEDIA IN A POSITIVE WAY
If something was brought to my attention that was inappropriate, we took care of it the best we could. A big part of this was education. We discussed social media with our players and with our parents on an ongoing basis. We have suspended players that have posted inappropriate things. Sometimes, we just ask them to remove it. We ask two basic questions:
1. Does this help the team?
2. Does this hurt the team?
Around the time the internet was becoming more available to everyone, someone on our staff directed me to a page called “Top Ten Reasons to Fire Coach Jones”. It really didn’t bother me all until I saw that the author was our booster club president.