Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Crime and Punishment

Whatever happened to good, old-fashioned discipline? My wife is a school teacher in the public school system. It’s little more than a glorified day care and we wonder why our education system is in such a mess. Teachers really have little control over what goes on in the classroom. Unruly students and litigious parents drive the policy making. There’s just no such thing as good, old-fashioned discipline -- unless, of course, you happen to be a coach at a private institution of higher education where you are free to discipline your charges as you feel led.

Our women’s basketball team has been up and down this year which is a vast improvement over the constant state of 'down' to which these young women aspired last season. They are very talented, but at times seem to lack the drive and focus it takes to be competitive. I would say they have more raw talent than most of the teams in our conference, but have yet to actually believe in themselves.

Last Saturday, as an arctic ice storm blanketed our area of West Texas, our young ladies played the No. 2 ranked team in the nation. After falling behind by 18 points at the half, our team fought back and controlled the second half. We lost by six, but the second-half performance was one to remember and hopefully build on.

So how does our team respond to their strong performance? By showing up late for practice on Monday. Not all of them were late, just three. But when you only have eight players to begin with, that is a significant percentage of the team. As a result, the coach wasn’t in a good mood and decided to take it out on his players.

Each week, I make a point to stop by practice and watch for a little bit before interviewing our coaches in order to prepare a special PR related newspaper page for the local media. This day was no different, other than the fact that the coach had something special planned.

I arrived at practice just in time to hear him outline his discipline program, and it was not pretty. To get a better understanding of what the team was required to do, you need to understand our gymnasium. The court is a sunken court, so in essence our gymnasium has two levels with the majority of the seating on the upper level. Seating is on either side of the court and the gymnasium has the capacity to seat 3,000 people.

In his little exercise the coach required the players to sprint up to the second level, around a corner, then sprint up to the top of the upper level seating area. They would then walk across to the next isle, walk down the steps, sprint to the next isle, sprint up the steps, walk over to the next isle, walk down, then sprint all the way to the other end where they entered the seating area, sprint down the steps and run a lap around the court where they would stop and do 20 pushups. They were then required to repeat the process on the other side of the floor, this time doing 20 crunches upon completing the lap around the floor.

… And that was one circuit. The players who arrived on time had to complete five circuits. The players who were late … 27, one for each minute. I sat with the coach and watched as his team began the drill. About 30 minutes into it, the player who finished first, a great young lady with an excellent attitude and work ethic, you’ve met her before, finally completed her five circuits. As they ran, the coach sat there and contemplated the rest of the day. His original plan was to practice from 1-2:30 and give the players a chance to rest their legs after the weekend’s tough games. His new plan was a little more intense. The girls ran from 1-3 p.m., then had to return at 6 p.m. for practice. And after practice, “they are going to run some more,” he said.

While I sat there contemplating mortality and how a drill like this would easily send me to my grave several times over, I realized that the chances of any player showing up late for practice again were exceedingly slim. And if one were looking for a way to adjust someone’s behavioral patterns, this would probably do the trick.

It's a shame you can't do this to ignorant fourth-graders ... or better yet to the parents of ignorant fourth graders. After all, isn't adjusting someone's attitude what punishment is all about?


Anonymous said...

Two words for ya: Jail Therapy.

mommyfranklin said...

Well, you know all the teacher has to do is figure out a way to tie the "punishment" to a TAKS Objective.

Anonymous said...

ha ha! That was funny, Franklin!

Anonymous said...

Sounds good to me!