Coach Cries Foul

I am a high school teacher and fifth-grade basketball coach.

I was recently coaching a fifth-grade practice when a disgruntled parent walked into the gym with 10 minutes left to go and started harassing me. He got into my face and started yelling at me with foul language. The parent was a rather large individual, and I did not want to start a physical altercation, so I handed him the ball and walked away.

I did not want to try and negotiate with him because I didn’t know how he would react.

The children’s safety was not at stake, but I felt mine was.

I left the gym and sat in my truck because I didn’t have access to a phone inside the gymnasium.

There were about five or 10 parents and children who were on the sidelines who witnessed the event.

Afterward, the parents told me that the disgruntled parent just yelled at the kids to go home. No one was hurt.

The school superintendent charged me with leaving the kids unsupervised for a period of 10 minutes. I felt I handled the situation best by walking away, keeping my distance from the parent and not trying to negotiate.

Do you feel that this is how most reasonable people would have reacted? Does the school have the right to charge me with leaving the children unattended for 10 minutes, when my own personal safety was at stake? Upset Coach


I rarely find myself disagreeing with my favorite advice columnist, but this one left me on the fence. I read this several times, and my heart goes out to the poor coach .He was damned if he did and damned if he didn’t. I also had more questions. For example: “Why did none of the other parents step up and yell ‘Hey buddy, I am calling the cops!’”, “Why did no parent try to safely usher the fifth graders out of the gym?” Obviously the children’s safety was also at stake. “What happen to this bully of a father and his child?” “Should a child be punished for his parent’s actions?” “Did parents speak up later on behalf of this coach?”

I raised this question to my students as a “What would you do?” To quote a student of mine “This is fucked up on so many levels.” I informed them that the world of social work is rarely black and white. What Would You Do in this situation?

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6 Responses to Coach Cries Foul

  1. Ugh, people are just the worst.


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Probably handed him the ball and not walked away. My eldest son gave up refereeing my grandson’s club matches because of the way so many parents behaved.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m sorry that you’re reprimanded for leaving kids unsupervised for 10 mins. Nevertheless, it is a learning experience. Thanks for sharing.
    What I will do
    1. I will try to remain calm
    2. keep a comfortable distance away from the parent
    3. try to keep the ball away from the parent as it could be turned into a tool to throw at kids in a fit of rage
    4. calm down the parent and tell them that there is a solution to every problem.
    5. ask the parent how I can assist them.
    6. If the parent attack me physically, I will protect myself via self-defense techniques.

    Liked by 1 person

    • msw blog says:

      I was not reprimanded for leaving kids unsupervised. The scenario was one I presented to my students during a clinical supervision seminar. Where social workers,work is reviewed and reflected upon, with the aims of: improving the supervisee’s work with clients; ensuring client well being. Though on to your solutions I love them all you have some great insight. Thank you for reading.

      Liked by 1 person

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