Coaches Call Penalty On Foul Language

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Josh Niblett has now won six state championships in his career as a head coach. Mark Almond/malmondal.com

Hoover, Ala. – In 2009, Hoover Bucs Coach Josh Niblett said, “What comes from your mouth comes from your heart.”  Similarly, Proverbs 23:7 (NKJV) reads, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he:…”  The language we use is important.  On the field or the court, there are coaches who feel the same way.  My senior year at Lauderdale County High School, Cody Gross came on board as an assistant football coach.  As players, we all knew Coach Gross’s success as a former player for Lauderdale County High School and as a player for the UNA Lions, winning not one, not two, but three national championships (in-a-row) and compiling a 41-1 record from 1993-1995 as their quarterback.

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Athens High School Head Football Coach Cody Gross. Jeronimo Nisa/Decatur Daily

At the beginning of my senior season, I recall Coach Gross and Head Coach Ronnie Ritter coming onto the football field and laying out a new policy on the use of profanity.  The rule was, if you used profanity, you would be running laps.  Like Coach Niblett at Hoover, Coach Gross felt the use of profanity was unnecessary to be successful on the field and it brought about change. Hoover’s Coach Niblett was quoted as saying, “You don’t have to cuss to get your point across. You don’t have to cuss to get kids motivated. You don’t have to cuss to get kids to know you’re serious about what you’re talking about. We want to try to build people up, not tear ’em down.”  Coach Niblett went on to say, “There are times you’ve got to get on the kids and get ’em motivated and wake ’em up a little bit and have some intensity in your voice, but I would never, ever cuss a kid. If I have to do that, I’d get out of the profession.”  When it comes to sports, especially at the high school level and younger, coaches set the standard.  This applies to all aspects of the game, even the language used.  At some point, everyone decides how they want to talk, but someone in a leadership position, like a coach, has a unique opportunity to be a positive influence when it comes to the language a young person chooses to use.  I Corinthians 5:33 (ESV) reads, “Do not be deceived: Bad company ruins good morals.”  Who we surround ourselves with is also important.  In Ecclesiastes we read, “And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”  There is strength in numbers.  When a coach comes out in support of good behavior and decent language, it helps to bring like-minded people together.  Recently, I heard an interview of former Alabama head football coach Gene Stallings on the Rick and Bubba Show.  He was talking about giving his players a movie night the night before their football games.  When it came to the movie they chose, Coach Stallings said that the players knew that they needed to find movies, although often difficult to find, that didn’t have bad language.

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Alabama Head Coach Gene Stallings after winning the 1992 National Championship.

It’s interesting to note that Hoover Football Coach Josh Niblett played for Coach Gene Stallings at Alabama from 1993-1995 and carries a similar philosophy on profanity as a head coach himself.  I don’t believe it is simply a coincidence.  There may be a coach, or someone else in a leadership position, reading this right now.  If you’ve set the standard high when it comes to language, good job.  If the bar hasn’t been set very high when it comes to profanity, it’s not too late to make a change.  We can never go wrong setting the bar high when it comes to how we talk and behave.  You can “Mark It Down”.

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