Toxic Athletes and Coaches

This is not about doping; this is about those athletes and coaches that because of their behavior or attitude can kill a team or an organization. I was inspired to write this by reading Seth Godin’s post yesterday on toxic employees. Much of what we have been reading about in the sport pages the past few weeks has been about toxic athletes. They are athletes whose talent fools us, we tolerate aberrant or deviant behavior, even destructive behavior because they are so talented, and they will help us win. I have always called them “coach killers’ because these are the type of athletes that will get you fired. They in essence “over promise” and under deliver. They always show just enough flashes of brilliance to keep fooling everyone, especially rich owners, but if you have to live and work with that athlete everyday you know what a drain they are on the coaches and team. Sometimes the press really loves these guys because the “are great in the locker room” when in essence they are a cancer. I know one player who is a major league manager now who fit this modus operandi, he actually kept his team from winning as a player, but the press and owner loved him.

I also feel you have toxic coaches, management personnel and even athletic trainers. These people through their negativity or their inability to be part of the team drain the team. I have worked for two toxic team owners in my career and that is not fun. We need a sport Environmental Protection Agency to put these people and their toxic behavior in a toxic waste dump. Recognize toxic behavior and weed it out now or it will fester and grow like a virulent cancer.


At 8/2/07, 9:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sometimes the parents of youth athletes may be the most toxic. Fortunately, they are easier to get rid of than team owners.

Mark Day

At 8/2/07, 9:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Parents...will always win!!

At 8/2/07, 1:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Surely you are not talking about O.G.? There is no false praise coming out of his mouth.

At 8/2/07, 8:04 PM, Blogger The Iron Maven said...

Don't forget the toxic "amateur" sport organizations and governing bodies!


Taking the term "amateur" to new heights!

At 8/3/07, 8:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is another organization-->AAU

At 8/3/07, 11:50 AM, Blogger Brian said...

Vern, this post brought back some memories of toxic athletes and parents. I know firsthand how they can kill a team. On the positive side, strong team leaders can keep potentially toxic teammates (and their parents) in check. I learned this the hard way after graduating only three seniors after a strong year. I was looking forward to a better season the next having only graduated three players. Unfortunatley their strong leadership was replaced by toxic underclassmen and needless to say, we had a very unsatisfactory season on many levels.


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