Monday, September 24, 2007

Dressing to Coach

I’ve been noticing something strange at A.J.’s flag football games. (Yes, something even stranger than the idea of five- and six-year-olds playing organized football.) I’ve noticed that some of the coaches really dress the part. For the last two weeks, A.J.’s team has played teams whose coaches have worn matching polo shirts in their team’s colors. Last week, in fact, his opponent’s coaches not only wore matching polo shirts, but also carried clipboards--though what they were writing down there I can’t imagine. Really, the only other thing they needed to look like aspiring Nick Sabans or Tony Dungys were headsets.

Those of us dads who help coach A.J.’s team have made no effort to color-coordinate. We usually show up in basic suburban dad get-ups: t-shirts and flip-flops, running shoes and baseball caps. Maybe that makes us lousy coaches and bad dads. But am I wrong in thinking that the matching coaches shirts smack of trying too hard?

What puzzles me is that I watch a lot of football and I’ve seen hundreds of pro and college and even high-school coaching staffs dressed like this, and it has never struck me as odd. But outfitting yourself like this to coach a bunch of first-graders (kids, that is, who are less interested in whether they are on offense or defense at any given moment than in making sure that someone remembered to bring their post-game snack) just seems wrong. Which makes me wonder: What’s the cutoff point for color-coordinating coaches? At what age level can coaches wear matching polo shirts in team colors and not look like complete yutzes?

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