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Ron Runsvold, Fargo, Published February 10 2014

Letter: Put coach story in proper context

We have been subjected recently to a firestorm of controversy regarding Joel Swanson, coach of the Shanley baseball team, and the text message he sent to his players “suggesting” they partake of open gym once a week for an hour a week. I’d like to examine a few statistics: There are about 18,000 professional athletes in the U.S. (wiki.answers.com); there are about 380,000 college athletes in the U.S. (wiki.answers.com); and there about 6.9 million high school athletes in the U.S. (askville.amazon.com). That would suggest that about one in 21 high school athletes will compete in college, about one in 18 college athletes will become pros, and about one in 378 high school athletes will become pros.

While there were no overt threats in the text messages that I have seen, the implied message is “do what I want or I won’t play you next year.” Here’s an open suggestion to all high school coaches: I understand that your sport is your life but understand that some of your players have other interests.

These are high school students. They are exploring what is important to them and what direction they want to take their lives. When your sport season comes around and they are a good player, you play them, you don’t base that decision on whether they subject themselves to your “suggestions,” and you don’t threaten them, no matter how subtly implied that threat might be.