You are the coach and your team is playing in a NCAA- DI dual in a year ending fight for the top position in your conference. Your number two player has an abdominal injury and you know if you take him/her out of the line-up it weakens your whole team as each player below has to move up one position. What do you do?
You have talked with your player and he/she has agreed to play three games and retire. You do not inform the rest of the team, even though they are aware of the injury. This will allow the rest of your team to play their normal positions and you have a good opportunity to win the dual and place first in your conference. The other coach protests (one of my players has quietly informed one of the oppositions players-which is passed on to the coach). You over ride their coaches reasons by saying, “My player played yesterday. They are going to play today.”
You have talked with your player and agreed for their own physical well being they cannot play. It means the rest of the team moves up and the team has less of an opportunity to win the dual. You bring the rest of the team together and explain the situation. Everyone has to ‘step up’ and play hard, play smart, but enjoy the competition.
Under Scenario 1 the whole team stands to benefit, but do they? Even though the coach doesn’t tell the team, the team knows what is going on. The think about it. If they were the injured player and the coach asked them would they agree to play three games and retire? If so how do they feel about it? Everyone is relieved about not playing up, but is it fair to the other team? Would they want to be treated that way from the other team if the situation was reversed. What do the rules say? The rules state not to play the injured player.
Under Scenario 2 the team has been told by the coach the injured player will not play. Each player will play up in their individual positions. The team knows the rule. Putting a winning record together is also built on the timing of the situations that go into the schedule. You can’t predict who will be injured ‘when’ and who will be out sick ‘when’. However, character plays a big part in everything ‘coming together’ and this is what a coach should want each player to take forward into life. The team could still come out with a win. You don’t know how the other team is going to play that day. An upset could happen and it could not.
What would be your approach? Your job is on the line. The university likes winners. Which Scenario would you choose?