I had a nice sit-down this morning with John Engh, chief operating officer of the National Alliance for Youth Sports. It's been almost a year since the nonprofit organization introduced the Coach Rating System - a tool that allows parents to provide positive (and negative) feedback to coaches, coaches to discover their own strengths and weaknesses, and program administrators to ensure their coaches are the right men and women for the job. I thought now would be a good time to check in and see how it's going. So far, about 130 NAYS member chapters have taken advantage of the free tool, and initial reaction has been positive. "All of the things that we were focused on in the past - coaches' training, background checks - are still challenges for us," Engh told me. "But now we're trying to draw a parallel between a volunteer coach and an employee." What about those youth sports organizations that already struggle to find coaches? Will they be tempted to set the bar low for coaches who receive negative feedback, worried about creating the need to find a mid-season replacement for a poor-performing coach? "We don't dictate to the leagues what they should do; we give them guidelines for what we think they should do," Engh says. "We're being proactive by saying that this tool is very useful to those coaches who may be borderline. Now all the parents are watching them, and those parents have a voice." Don't worry if your not a NAYS member; Engh says the association is working on ways to get the Coach Rating System out to as many organizations as possible. "If every coach in America is getting evaluated like this 10 years from now, we've done our job."
Opinion: Young Athletes Offer Valuable Perspectives Roaming the sidelines of high school sporting events has afforded me a window into the minds of some of our area's youth. Over the years, I've blushed, blanched, and laughed at what I've heard. Admittedly, much of it led me to an early conclusion: When it comes to matters of social import, a high schooler's mind is not where I'd go to find an informed opinion. read more
Miami Marlins Pay Tribute to Jose Fernandez A night earlier, instead of playing a game, the entire team was bused to the Fernandez family home for an excruciating 45 minutes, trying to find comforting words for a family but knowing no such words exist. How do you play a game a day after that? One way is the way the Marlins did, blowing out the New York Mets by taking a 5-0 lead in the first two innings of a 7-3 victory. read more
LeBron Stands for Anthem, Decries Kaepernick Critics LeBron James says he'll stand for the national anthem, but his respect for Colin Kaepernick couldn't be more apparent. James, speaking at the Cleveland Cavaliers media day Monday, spent a significant portion of his podium time praising the San Francisco 49ers quarterback, whose protest began in late August to call attention to police brutality and social injustice. read more
Baseball Community Shocked by Fernandez Death At Marlins Park on Sunday, there was no baseball game. Players cried openly in the clubhouse. A No. "16" was painted on the pitcher's mound. And on the giant scoreboard over rows of empty seats was a simple display: "16 Jose Fernandez." Jose Fernandez, the Marlins' infectious star who escaped Cuba on a raft eight years ago and blossomed into one of baseball's most electrifying personalities, was killed early Sunday in a violent boat crash off Miami Beach. He was 24. "Sadly, the brightest lights are often the ones that extinguish fastest," Marlins President David Samson, surrounded by the entire team, said at an emotional news conference at Marlins Park, where players openly wept. "His personality transcended culture and religion and race. His story will be told forever." read more
Anthem Protests Continue at College Football Games Football players for Michigan and Michigan State, along with a group of students at North Carolina, raised their fists during the national anthem Saturday. The gestures at the games came following a week punctuated by riots in Charlotte, North Carolina, and the killing of an unarmed black man in Tulsa, Oklahoma. read more
Opinion: Georgia Tech AD Hire Fills Need for Leadership The search was fast. The search was quiet. The search was conducted with far more efficiency than many things at Georgia Tech have been in recent years. Todd Stansbury will be the new athletic director at Georgia Tech. He checks all the boxes. He played football at Georgia Tech for Bill Curry. He learned under the wise old athletic director, Homer Rice. He climbed the ladder in various athletic departments around the country, spending several years as an assistant athletic director at Tech, then moving on to Houston, East Tennessee State and Oregon State. read more