I don't know how anyone can be a head coach. Sure, I understand the love of the game. I understand about working with young players and molding them to be better men and women. But for every coach, there is an entire herd of people who could do a better job of coaching -- just ask them!
I remember my Grandpa. He was a big Dodger fan, and a big fan of the local high school basketball team. But he wasn't a big fan of the coaches. You may not realize this, but my Grandpa could outcoach the legendary Tommy Lasorda AND call the shots better than a high school basketball coach with more than 700 career victories. He told me so.
"What is that coach doing? I can coach better than that!"
I couldn't tell you how many times I heard him say that. And my Grandpa wasn't unique. Every coach has his or her detractors. Lose and game, and people immediately start asking for your replacement. One mistake and some folks will never let you forget it. Two mistakes and you're the most worthless person walking God's green earth.
If the team finishes the season 4-12, the coach should be canned. Never mind that half the players are hurt and the other half have no experience. Forget that pesky little detail that the players aren't really very good. Fire the coach!
Of course, a few coaches reach untouchable status over time. But even the untouchable coaches have had to deal with the occasional moron who thought themselves to be much brighter than they actually were.
A coach with a mediocre team is never appreciated. A coach with a great team usually doesn't get any credit for the team's success. And pity the poor coach who ends the season 4-12. Or worse.
And don't even get me started on how unappreciated the referees and umpires are. Somebody's got to make the calls. But, oh the abuse those poor people take!
There are many times when I don't feel especially appreciated. In my secular job, I could make 10,000 decisions flawlessly, but when I make that inevitable mistake... well, let's just say that people immediately and repeatedly let me know all about it.
As a husband, I know I am sometimes taken for granted -- just as I sometimes take my wife for granted. Man, I hate it when I'm just as guilty as she is.
Maybe the role in life where I feel the most appreciated is as a pastor. I know that people in my congregation will specifically seek me out to tell me that they appreciate a sermon or a visit or a prayer. And I'll admit that even though I am not a pastor so that people will appreciate what I do, it makes me feel good. It makes me feel like God is using what I am doing. God can work though this twisted and bloated mess of flesh and bone and sin that I am.
Wouldn't it be a good idea if we all told someone how much we appreciate what that person does? It would be great to feel that rush of encouraging another person. Even if that person doesn't seem to appreciate the effort, we could still give that encouragement. Isn't it odd that we would think we should be shown some appreciation for showing someone else some appreciation?
Or maybe it's just all about learning how to be selfless. I want to be able to do my best or to do what is right without the need for approval. I should be able to give money to a good ministry without wondering how to get a proper receipt for a tax credit. I should be able to volunteer my time without wondering what I'll be getting back in return.
If I donate money to my local PBS station during the pledge drive (which lasts around 360 days each year), the station will send me a gift of appreciation. Maybe it's a DVD or a CD of whatever concert the pledge drive is interrupting. Maybe it's a stuffed Barney toy. Whatever. If I truly appreciate what that PBS station is broadcasting, why would I need a gift to show appreciation for my own appreciation?
One last thought: If we really want to show our appreciation, shouldn't we start with our Creator? Like it or not, everything we have comes from Him. I certainly appreciate that.