John Livingston

Toxic Male Training for Football Players

Any resemblance that one finds to real life events is purely coincidental. This is a work of fiction.

Coach Manley Mann was the head football coach of the Benewah State University (BSU) Stallions. They were a team known throughout the country for their “blue collar “work ethic. Three- star players, mentored by talented young on the rise coaches—many including the head coach had played for the Stallions. The team had gone from being a Jr. College team in the 70’s—to being a Division Two team in the 80-s and early 90’s, to a Division I team with the third best winning record in the country over the past 20 years. A disproportionate number of those three- star athletes became NFL players. Many of their coaches went on to notoriety at major conference schools. One Head Coach won Coach of the Year honors for all of College football while still at Benewah State University (BSU).

Over the years as coaching staffs have increased in size across the country, as more money from big time football has been used to subsidize the Universities they represent, the purpose of sport—football in this case, has been lost, especially in the eyes of college administrators most of whom never played sports in college. Football, except at The Service Academies and many schools at the Division 3 level has become the means to an end—money, instead of being the means to the education of the student athlete. Coaches, head coaches, were the bosses of their programs. They controlled not only who played, but how the players were indoctrinated with a philosophy that could help them win games today, but teach them life lessons about being good people, how to be a husband and father, how to ethically run a business or pursue a profession.

A coach—position coaches and head coaches were like a father to a player. Over 4-5 years watching each other every day it was hoped that they gained respect for each other. Over that time frame they would take each other’s measure and if lucky and the player had a virtuous role model for his coach, he would end up his time a better person. Fr. Theodore Hesburgh C. S. C. now the deceased President of Notre Dame once opined about scholarship athletes: “If the come to Notre Dame and don’t graduate we’ve used them…..If they come to Notre Dame and graduate they’ve used us.”

In the past football teams were like a family—a brotherhood. Today they are more like a business and the coach is more like a manager CEO. The player is more like a laborer that exists for the good of the business. The Coach (mentor—father—teacher) is more like a father on military deployment than a father who comes home to his family every night. And many of his roles are now being defined by people that are his superiors who don’t even know the names of his players, much less their backgrounds and their values.

So earlier this summer coach Manly Mann received a memo from his boss the President of the University—Ms. Dump, directing all his players to take “TOXIC MASCULINITY TRAINING”. No training—no scholarship for the students and yes the coaches had to take the training also, and oh by the way the State Board of Education and even the Governor by not voicing their opposition to this type of indoctrination have implied their support. Coach Manly Mann replied that he and his coaches already provide such training on a daily bases, and if there were any areas that could be improved in the way he teaches his team, in the way he and his fellow coaches mentor the players on the attributes and attitudes of being good men, he would be happy to entertain such ideas. Ms. Dump replied back that the TOXIC MALE TRAINING would have to be taught by “professional trainers” that the Department of Inclusivity would hire. The coaches would have no purview of what was to be taught and who would pass and fail the course.

Coach Manly Mann then expressed some concerns about the fact that many of his players had deep religious convictions—especially The Christian and Muslim players, but several of those with “Oceanic” family traditions. He asked how would the instructors handle a Christian or Muslim player objecting to same sex marriage or a transgender life style. The reply was that alternative views would be handled “appropriately”. Would the objections of The Christian player be handled differently than the objections of a Muslim or a player of Hawaiian descent? If a white player objected to renouncing his “white privilege” in class would his scholarship be in jeopardy? The response was that each player and each issue would be handled on an individual bases by the instructor after consulting with a “human rights committee”

So coach Manly Mann asked what do I tell the players mothers and fathers and maybe their wives. I promised that I would take care of their son and be like a father to them but now all the decisions are being made by an administrative body that doesn’t even know their name. If a player were ever made to feel “non-compliant” who would take away his scholarship? Me the coach? The Athletic Director? The President of the University or the Head of “diversity programs” And then coach Manly Mann thought to himself what happens if I stand by my player like I told his parents I would—will I be fired?

Many years ago the famous football coach at Michigan Bo Schembechler stated after firing his head basketball coach who took a job at Arizona in the middle of the NCAA basketball tournament: “I want a Michigan man to coach my Michigan team” What he was saying was that he wanted to hire someone that reflected the values that he and the University believed in. These values were reflected in the values of the people of the State of Michigan, the alumnae, and most of all the coaches that he hired that would be teachers and mentors to “his” student athletes. He was taking responsibility for being a coach and a teacher. He would be responsible for what they learned while under his tutelage. He promised the parents of his players when he recruited them that he would take care of them, teach them, even indoctrinate them with life lessons that would make them better and more complete people. They would have opportunities at Michigan to learn technical skills, the opportunity to further careers through studying disciplines from art to basic science. But to Bo and to the majority of all coaches in all sports the job of teaching life lessons was theirs. They promised that they would take responsibility for that and not hand it off to another department of the University.

I was blessed to have played for 2 coaches in College who are in the College Football Hall of Fame just like Bo. I also was coached in high school by a famous coach who is in the Ohio High School Coaches Hall of Fame. All three coaches had either coached or been influenced by the late great Paul Brown—one of the icons of football coaching. It wasn’t until many years later that I found out that a tradition that was taught to all three of my coaches by coach Brown was practiced before every one of my games and practices. The coaches would huddle together and then the head coach would ask—”Are we making better boys?” In those days that was their life’s mission and calling—to make better men. Today coaches seem to be asking a different question—are we complying with “social justice directives” and are we making money for the university?

Purpose—Passion—Perception: Where have they gone?

Benewah State needs a Benewah person that reflects Benewah values to be President of the University and to be the Benewah Coach. And that is the job of the State Board of Education and The Governor.

Again, this is all fiction. But it could easily happen someday in the future if we aren’t careful.

MAGA “Fight Like Hell”

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