by Mikendra McCoy
Shakespeare once said, “… all the world is a stage, and we are but actors …” and although I like him as a playwright, I am sure that I don’t like him being a philosopher! Let me explain, if life is a stage and we are actors, then there is an unspoken rule that we have to participate in the play! Still not getting it huh? If there is a play, there is drama … and I think that we can all agree that there is not a need to further the “drama” of the day to day!
As coaches of high school students there is a given that “drama” exists; we see the “drama” in a number of realms; the events themselves (dramatic and humorous interps), the kids who perform them (“drama queens and kings”) and the coaches that participate with them (“drama mammas and drama pappas”); and though I like the events, the kids and the coaches … the curtain must be closed on this thing called “drama.”
Start with the events, and the scripts that define them; for “… all that glitters is not gold…” True, as coaches, we do want pieces that are intense, impacting and most importantly memorable; but that doesn’t have to equivocate to “shock value.” There is never a need to indulge the whim to fill ten minutes of precious time, with all of the vile of life rolled into one disgusting dissent into the depths of Hades. Trading in emotional roller coasters for the bile of humanity is ignoring true tragedy and supporting the worlds need for its journey through Jerry Springer. We as coaches need to ensure that we endorse each script that has our name attached to it, beyond that, we need to make sure that there is a message within each script, clear enough for the audience to recognize; that doesn’t need to come with a rating system. Somewhere, the idea has to be to let the speech speak for itself, and to do so with integrity.
Then it’s time to deal with the temperamental teens, we’ve got to t each the tiny tots “when, and where” to deal with their drama. Whether it is theirs, the teams or the world of talk! There seems to be this moral compass and its pendulum swings from side to side; whereas before it was considered unacceptable to utter words depicting bodily functions, they are now being performed center stage. Where there once were levels of authority and subordinate, there is now an empowered youth challenging any figurehead, and publicly at that. The problem is “when and where;” my parents used to say that “… there was a time and a place for everything . ” I couldn’t agree more. So here are the props you’ll need to survive the first act; make sure every actor has them:
#1. Deal with the person that you have an issue with, and no one else. Commenting to others about the issue does not resolve the issue; in fact it only increases the drama. You’ve heard of the telephone game, imagine it being played with those who thrive off of theatrics!
#2. Don’t take private team issues to a public place. Keep your issues out of the general populous, what the world doesn’t need to know, don’t tell them. Stage director Gary Mitchell once said, “… the more that can be done behind the scenes, the better the production!” How true.
#3. Trash talking, complaining, boasting, etc … keep it miles from the tournament confined to a bus, if you must breathe life into the wasted words. We have the “ten mile” rule; if you are sure that your judges know nothing, your opponents are ridiculous and you are god’s gift to the world … then wait to tell us all about it when you are far away the other teams, potential and actual judges and other coaches hearing your misdirected arrogance. It is this simple, from the minute that you step out of the vehicle, to the time that you return to it, you are being watched; the “show” is on. Any and everything that you do can factor in to the judges’ opinion of you; whether you like it or not … you never know who is watching or listening.
Finally, we must make sure that the coach puts a stop to the “encore performances!” The drama can be stopped from the top down; it can also be bred from the top down. Now don’t get me wrong, there are little rivalries that make life worth living … the Lakers and the Celtics, the Ra iders and anyone … it makes sense that there is competition, it makes drama when there is malicious behavior, venomous communication and vindictive motives behind supposed motivating words; we as coaches should NEVER let it get to the point that people are casualties of competition.
So what do you do with the over actor, the dramatic, the flamboyant … those that find comfort in the chaos of the communicative world? The answer is not as easy as it seems … again we turn to Shakespeare, “Assume a virtue, if you have it not,” and if you have not, then let me tell you how to … Since the drama can’t stop … how you handle it must change.
#1. "There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so." - William Shakespeare
Don’t give it as much attention as it seems to need. There is an old saying, “…don’t rent a room in your head to a tenant that won’t pay.” The idea is simple, stop thinking about the drama; when you give it attention then it controls you
#2. “…Though this be madness, yet there is method in it ." – William S hakespeare
Stop talking. There is no need to be facilitating the “wagging of tongues.” Each time that another story is told, another tale is enlarged … and while there is madness in the increasing drama, the fact of the matter is that the method is present. Each retelling is the intentional slaying of another’s character, with the intent of building up your own. Unacceptable.
#3. “… Laugh man.” – William Shakespeare
Learn to laugh. Really … there are starving people in this world, those who are physically attacked daily for whatever reason the attacker can fathom, and we are so caught up in the campaign for popularity and power that this is our life? Laugh at your own childish behavior, laugh at those who perpetuate the drama, and then laugh till you can’t remember why you are laughing. Your head will be clear and the focus much clearer with the drama out of the way.
#4. "This above all: to thine own self be true". – William Shakespeare. Be secure in who you are and what you stand for. Albeit, I would love to have everyone love me, and I would love to befriend every coach, and or student, but in the infamous words of Shakespeare, “I am not bound to please thee with my answers.” Truth be told, you and I work with these other coaches, and students, they don’t have to be our friends, more importantly, they don’t need to be the people we define our worth from… I can be secure if they are not my “best buddy.” Can you?
This is the short and the long of it; the drama must stop … although the play must go on! We have got to stop the “extra” nonsense, in order to make sense of it all! So, once again turning to the master of words, William Shakespeare, “I wish you well and so I take my leave, I pray you know me when we meet again;” wait! I would like to alter his quotation a little bit … I pray that we do meet again, but I pray that we never on the stage! J