Sometimes i feel ashamed of my job. It always happens when i see fencing teachers screaming and humiliating their athletes during a competion. And i am sorry to say that the excuse that they do this in order to get the best out of their athletes is absolutely false; as much as i don’t believe that some of these atheletes actually need to be badly treated in order to give their best. It certainly is true that each athlete is different, and there is the one who prefers to have a more discreet teacher, and the one who, instead, would rather have a more authoritative leader; yet between authority and proper verbal aggression there is a big difference. And i think this difference lies in a very basic concept. The athlete, even more if quite young, is not there to demonstrate how good i am at teaching; his successes don’t have to feed my personal ego. I, the teacher, am at his service and not the other way around. This doesn’t mean that the athlete, whatever age he is, doesn’t have to be committed and put an effort in what he does. Indeed, our job is also to teach these kids to maximize their work towards a goal and to concentrate on a certain purpose. But we should never do this through humiliation; or even worse, guilt, when after a defeat the teacher projects all his frustration onto the athelete. Rather, when athletes don’t give their best, our job is, or at least should be, to ask ourselves why this happened and, while looking for the reasons behind it, sistematically work together in order to improve. You can never improvise in a competition, even less you can scream nor humiliate an athlete.
Neitheir is right to have a biased behaviour towards certain athletes, those kids who were given something more, that extra quid by mother nature.
In our career, we might have the luck to meet one or two champions, and we will have the skills to help them developing all their potential, yet we will, surely, meet hundreds of absolutely ordinary kids who will simply ask us to teach them how to grow up through fencing. And this is why, for the most part, we will be teachers to those kind of athletes: ordinary people, most likely with no special talent who, however, will complete our days (and pay our salaries). And they will also be those calling us teachers, hounouring us with such a title, which however we need to demonstrate to actually deserve.
Once in a while, we should probably try to remember the literal meaning of the word sport, which is an abbreviation of the english word disport which, in turn, is a readjustement of the french word desport, which means: to have fun.