They Call You Coach?

Until very recently a coach was a person who developed athletes to be better performers in a sport.  There were many facets and skills involved, but they were always centered around improvement of sport performance.  


John Wooden

John Wooden was arguably the quintessential coach of collegiate basketball (and perhaps all sports).  When he wrote his autobiography, They Call Me Coach, there was no argument that he did not deserve that appellation.  Winning 10 NCAA titles and having developed some of the greatest players in the history of the sport certainly qualified him to be called coach. 


Sports and Academics

It was probably some time in 20th century America educational settings that the term “coach” became a title so that athletic coaches could distinguish themselves from the academic faculty.  Coaches referred to each other as “Coach Johnson” or “Coach Garcia” so as to distinguish themselves from English teachers like “Mrs. Townsend” or math teachers like “Mr. Wong”.  The coaches would get offended if any of the academic people were to refer to themselves as coaches, not that they would.  It had become a way of isolating the coaching fraternity.  Also at that time there were no female coaches, so it became a sort of a macho-guy thing. 


Fast Forward to 21st Century America

Due to some unknown forces individuals who were previously considered advisors, counselors, teachers, instructors or mentors have now been replaced by “coaches”.  We have relationship coaches, business coaches, birthing coaches, life coaches….you name it, we’ve got coaches for it.  You know it’s a desirable title because you can get one in a weekend online course. 


Everyone wants to be called Coach.

And some of them will introduce themselves as coach.  “Hi, I’m Coach Adrian.  I’ll be showing you how to post photos in Instagram!”  They give themselves an email address with coach in it.  They have business cards made letting you know that they are a coach. 


Coaching a sport is considered a profession in some places.

What I found out back when I was coaching at international events was that many people from other countries consider coaching to be a respected profession.  They would therefore refer to coaches as Mr. Abadjiev or Mr. Watanabe, just as they would an attorney or a teacher.  None of this coach stuff. 


Although I have a pretty decent coaching resume, my athletes refer to me as Bob or simply T.  But then again, I’m an old guy!