When Our Players Make Really Bad Decisions

I am blessed to be in communication with many different coaches. At times I am a sounding board, an unbiased third party, a venting stand-in ...

As many of you can attest - you have been that for me as well. That is the beauty of SportsLeader and friendship.

One of the coaches in our association, and by now a great friend of mine, Coach Jim DeJoy, had a pretty difficult situation to plow through this year. How he handled it was truly virtuous and I wanted him to share some of the experience so that if you ever encounter something similar you will know you are not alone.


I wanted to share an incident that occurred with our football team a few weeks ago.  It was the night before our second to last game of the season right after practice.  We had nine players involved, eight of which were starters, make a bad decision that cost them playing in the last two games of the season and other consequences within our school. 

At the time our team was four and two and headed toward a six and two season.  Although we were very proud of the players who were not involved they too paid a heavy price by losing the last two games and their teammates.

As a coach I was embarrassed and upset.  How can they do this after all our virtue talks this season?  We talked about courage, sacrifice, positive decision making, and staying away from negative peer pressure.  What were those kids thinking?  I almost decided to quit coaching all together.   If players weren’t going to listen to me or the other coaches then it wasn’t worth the time or effort.

Finally, through prayer and the grace of God one by one the suspended players realized their wrong and took responsibility for their actions.  One player wrote a letter of apology to the coaches, administrators, and parents.  Another player stood up in a team meeting and apologized to both his teammates and coaches.  Others, over time, made sincere apologies to the coaches.  The coach’s walls that were built started to crumble.  Maybe these players did get it and just made a bad mistake.  Hopefully this will be a learning and life lesson.  From these moments I decided I am not going to quit, or be selfish, but grow, stay the course, and continue with the Sports leader program.   Without it I am convinced that these players would have moved on without much thought of growing or striving to be men of character.

I want to thank Lou for his support and encouragement throughout this time. One thing Lou urged me to do was right a letter to each player that was involved in the incident.  Below is a copy of that letter.  

Coaches, Again thank you for all that you do.  Coaching and mentoring can have many rewards but disappointment could also take place.  I encourage you to not give up but keep teaching and mentoring our young people.

Thank You and God Bless

Jim DeJoy


I know it’s been a rough week and mistakes were made.  As humans we all make mistakes but it’s what we take from these experiences that will define our true character.  Hopefully you have grown and become a better person.  This incident is over!  Let’s move on and continue to strive to be the best we can be, both on and off the field.

Also, we want you to know the coaches are here to support and help you anyway possible.  If you need to talk our doors are always open.  It was a pleasure coaching you this season and we look forward to watching your growth in the future.