Respect is Earned

By Daryl Dotson for The Predicament


I teach middle school business and technology in Des Moines.  I must say that the level of respect that I see on a daily basis is below average.  Respect is a two-way street not a one-way street with a dead end.  Too many times I see adults yelling, screaming, pointing their finger in a kids face expecting that student to listen to what they have to say.  If I was that student, I would have tuned that adult out about 30 seconds into the conversation.  I often put myself in our student’s shoes to see what their perspective looks like.  I am not perfect by any means, however I do take the time to figure out what is going on with a student that is not behaving in a manner that matches their character.

In wrestling I am no different.  We have to learn how kids think and maneuver their way through high school and life.  That takes a ton of time.  Individual attention with some student-athletes is just what they need to get over the hump and gain respect for themselves and their coaches.  I always tell my wrestlers that I will treat you like young men and women until you show me behavior that would tell me a different story.  What helps bridge that gap is individual attention to all athletes not just some.  Making and all-out effort daily to make sure we as a coaching staff talk to every kid on a daily basis makes a difference.

Respect is earned by our actions and how we treat the people around us.  I have not been the best example of that in our wrestling program in the last few years.  I need to learn how to improve in the area of dealing with people when I am in a leadership position.  Not taking others around us for granted is also key in developing common respect for one another.

If our student-athletes are not following our expectations within our program, then a conversation needs to happen.  If there is mutual respect between the two parties, then a quick review of the expectations needs to happen and that should be the end of that conversation.  When two individuals do not respect each other, then we have an issue which needs to be worked out.

We as coaches have to respect the kids that we come in contact with every day.  Yes, sometimes we have to be tough on our student-athletes to make them better but that should not mean putting them down.  Attitude and effort are two things that I look for in the athletes that I coach.  If they have a great attitude and are willing to put forth a great effort, we can help them get better.  We just have to be careful how we treat our athletes that have been entrusted to us.

Respect is always earned and we never know who is watching us.  Most people gravitate towards negative news or events.  If we have to get on a kid, we should probably do that in private.  I am still working on this, I have improved in this area.  We just need to show that we are capable of treating kids the right way and giving them the respect that they have earned.