Just for special effects, I started calculating the number of hours I’ve spent coaching football for free. I stopped because it started to become depressing. I don’t want to know. The reasons are that: (a) there’s nothing more important than family, and (b) spilling your guts for other peoples’ kids, for free, for 40 seasons borders on madness, especially when a significant percentage didn’t give a shit by missing workouts, missing practice, and giving half-assed effort or less. Convincing athletes to work hard is draining. There’s nothing more difficult than trying to make athletes love hard work when they hate it.

Quite often, I question my sanity for investing time away from my own family for the benefit of many who couldn’t care less. I’m a realist. I don’t romanticize football like many coaches, players, and fans do. Coaching is a paradox – a double-edge sword. It’s a blessing but it can be curse. Coaching is work. Hard work. Who in their right mind would work for free in a profession that pays millions of dollars a year to do the same job? The football community likes to boast about the impact they make but so do other professions. When you’re getting paid, it’s an obligation to spill your guts so spare me the I’m-saving-the-world self backslapping. There are countless volunteers around the world doing incredible things for fellow humans that don’t get publicized because their volunteer work is not sexy enough for the public like sports.

Here’s a word of advice – nothing is more important than family. If you have children, never forget they will be children once. That’s it…once. I’m not advocating selfishness. I’m simply telling you the truth – be careful about how you spend your time when your family is growing up. Be smart. If you’re going to make a life of coaching for free, make sure that the people you coach actually give a shit. If they don’t, you’re sacrificing time away from your own children that you can never get back. Again, don’t mistake this as volunteer-bashing. It isn’t. It’s about the exchange of social graces. One of the countless definitions of insanity is investing high-interest into low-interest. It lunacy to keep spilling your guts when you’re not getting the same in return. It’s flat-out craziness.

There is nothing romantic about football. It’s a high-risk vicious sport. It’s as dangerous as it gets. Coaching football players to survive in a contact sport that can leave you busted up is brutally hard work. It’s more than just the hours you spend at practice. It includes the amount of disengagement time off the field when you’re thinking about how to get your players fit, mentally and physically, to win instead of getting embarrassed week in and week out. It’s impossible to calculate the hours of detachment from your family by fooling yourself that you’re physically there but your mind is on Xs and Os.

Nothing is more important than family. Nothing is more important than spilling your guts to raise your children to become the very best they can be. You get one shot at raising your children because before you know it, they’re adults. Childhood is temporary. I’m not saying that you can’t have a life outside of being a parent. That’s not my point. My point is don’t be stupid. Don’t be a fool. Be careful.

Peace.

Gino Arcaro M.Ed., B.Sc., NCCP Level 3
owner – X Fitness Inc.
head coach – Oakville Longhorns football team
author – Soul of a Lifter