This pandemic has been hard on everyone. Daily routines have been upended, friends and family have been isolated from each other, and it’s impossible to not let the latent anxiety we’re all feeling seep into every facet of our lives. Times are particularly hard for those who belong to one of our most vulnerable groups: football coaches.
Take, for example, what recently happened to Cowboys defensive coordinator Mike Nolan during a press conference:
This is a good reminder that our football coaches need extra attention during meal times. It’s fine to serve them spicy food—we don’t want them developing deficient palates, do we?—but it is absolutely imperative that they be closely monitored while eating. And hand-washing after each meal is a must; a little Tabasco sauce in the eye isn’t going to kill anyone, but it’s that sort of inattention that can lead to an emergency room visit if you aren’t careful.
Keeping our football coaches safe during these hectic times is important, but so is keeping them engaged and stimulated. Months of isolation and stress can lead to a deterioration of cognitive abilities, as was demonstrated yesterday when Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin attempted to do some basic math. After being fined $25,000 by the SEC for criticizing officials, Kiffin tried to figure out how he could pay that fine with pennies:
It’s clear that Kiffin isn’t getting much help at home with his math work, which is putting him at a disadvantage. Yes, I know, after a long day of work it’s tempting to just hand the iPad over to your football coach and let them enjoy some screen time while you relax, but it’s important to be an active and encouraging presence in their learning. It only takes a few minutes to go over some basic equations with them.
Mood swings can also be an issue for football coaches. Their brains are not fully formed yet, and these are particularly anxious times. As you can see here, it didn’t take much at all to get Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney to the edge of throwing a fit:
Now is the time to be more patient than ever with our football coaches when they lash out like this. Try to remember how hard all of this is on their emotions, and do everything you can to make sure they have a safe, comfortable place in which to feel at home. I applaud whoever allowed Swinney to dress up in his pink suit for this press conference—let football coaches wear what makes them happy!—but they fell down on the job by exposing Swinney to tough questioning. Tantrums are more likely to happen than usual, and they are best avoided by always speaking to your football coach in a calm, encouraging manner.
Folks, this stuff is really important. Please take it to heart. If we’re going to get through this, we’ll have to get through it together.