2012 Cross Country,
Running = corporal punishment? Yeah right. Sounds like a parent complained.
I think the use of running as punishment is ill-advised, but not for the same reason those parents do. If you tell a kid "You were bad, the punishment for that will be exercise," what other conclusion can the athlete draw than "Exercise is something that you should dislike?"The kids are THERE to exercise in the first place. The AD had it right at the end of the article: if an athlete is misbehaving, send him home -- don't tell him implicitly that running is something that only bad people do.
I didn't read the article but using running as a negative punishment has long been debated. It’s been a while since my college days but even back then sports psychologists argued that it gives a negative connotation to running and exercise if it is used for discipline.And there might be something to that too. Not long ago I read "Born to Run" (out of utter disdain to fully understand the barefoot movement which I despise) and was reminded of how at some point in our lives running stops being fun. Most of us at some point loved just going out and running, playing tag, racing friends for the heck of it and sprinted ahead of our parents to see what was around the next turn. It wasn’t always about who was the fastest but about the adventure. Somewhere along the way we lost the love of running. Maybe that is because we use it as punishment and discipline or maybe it is video games, laziness, lack of parenting and club soccer (the spawn of Satan). Whatever it is we try to instill the love of running more than anything else on our team. Maybe it’s by running a new trail or by building team camaraderie through hard work and races. In the end it is my hope that their experience is more positive than negative. At some point a few of us rediscover the joy of running; that would be the cross country crowd or those who start entering road races as adults. New challenges are there to face us but no matter what stage of life you are in after those first miles you are reminded that running is hard. It is not a genetic skill like football or baseball or basketball where you can rely on genetic talent. You must put in the work, day in and day out, 365 days a year for 15-20 years to truly find out how good you can be. Just as not everyone can take a football hit, or hit a curve ball, not everyone can you handle the onset of gradual fatigue. But when someone asks you why you run and you find it hard to explain it is because in that moment of overcoming and perseverance that you realize the full extent of that joy. It is something you can’t really explain but have to experience. For punishment or pure joy let’s be honest: there is nothing like “running a lap” to refocus rowdy boys. So next time coach tell you to take a lap let’s consider it hitting the reset button out of “love” rather than a “punishment!”
Very nice response Coach Small!
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