Skip to content

Iowa football coach accused of violating school bullying policy by making players run as discipline

Oct 9, 2012, 10:06 AM EDT

footballgetty Getty Images

Late to practice? Go run a few laps … unless you’re in Iowa, then don’t worry about it. Here, please enjoy this “Better late than never” cookie.

The time-honored practice of coaches making players run as a disciplinary measure may be on its way out in at least one state. An investigative report by the Des Moines school district states that a coach who makes athletes run during practice may be guilty of inflicting corporal punishment, which is against district policy.

It all started when Des Moines Lincoln High School football coach Tom Mihalovich was suspended for, among other things, making a sophomore player run laps for making derogatory statements about the team.

“Good common sense would indicate we’re past using conditioning and running in a punitive manner,” said Mike Dick, Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union executive director. To use conditioning as punishment is “almost vindictive in nature.”

Yes it is, and that’s the whole point. Your coach is supposed to be a vindictive task master. All the best coaches are.

Running as discipline is discouraged by National Association of Sport and Physical Education, a group that promotes professional standards for youth health and education. The Des Moines school investigation cited its 2009 report in determining whether the actions of Mihalovich and two assistant coaches went too far.

“While some people believe that physical activity used as punishment and/or a behavior management tool is effective, experts perceive this as a ‘quick fix’ that actually might discourage the behavior it is intended to elicit,” the group concluded. “Using negative consequences to alter behavior suppresses the undesirable behavior only while the threat of punishment is present; it doesn’t teach self-discipline or address the actual behavior problem.”

Oh no, we can’t use negative consequences to alter students’ behavior. That would be just like real life, and it would be irresponsible for coaches to prepare them for that.

And as for you, reader, you really took way too long to get to this final paragraph. Drop and give me twenty.

  1. skids003 - Oct 9, 2012 at 12:21 PM

    This is another reason we are raising a nation of pansies.

  2. t16rich - Oct 9, 2012 at 1:03 PM

    That’s bullying the work ethics involved with sports.

  3. clickablecontent - Oct 9, 2012 at 1:21 PM

    I’m an anti-bullying, liberal-leaning, tofu-eating Californian and I think this is ridiculous. What is this world coming to?

  4. alligatorsnapper - Oct 9, 2012 at 1:33 PM

    I’m an anti-bullying, strongly conservative, thick rare steak, alligator tail, snapping turtle sauce piquant eating Louisianan and I think this is ridiculous. I ran so much while in high school and college as a result of curfew-missing, skirt-chasing, practice-missing that I thought I would not live. It may be the wimpization of men.

  5. thraiderskin - Oct 9, 2012 at 1:36 PM

    Its not that “they” think it is wrong, that definitely bothers me, but its the undertones that enrages me the most. I’m not sure where someone goes from here. Do you use time-outs or is making someone do anything as punishment bullying? If I was the coach, I’d tell them all to go F*CK themselves.

  6. myopinionisrighterthanyours - Oct 9, 2012 at 1:57 PM

    “Good common sense would indicate we’re past using conditioning and running in a punitive manner,” said Mike Dick, Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union executive director. To use conditioning as punishment is “almost vindictive in nature.”

    No, good common sense would tell you this stand is ridiculous. Corporal punishment? Really? What’s next, a drill sergeant can’t order a cadet to drop and give me twenty, like Rick said? And we wonder why kids have no respect, and parents want teachers and others to raise their kids for them. Google the death of common sense. What are we coming to?

  7. jayzus - Oct 9, 2012 at 10:30 PM

    pussyfication of America continues

  8. steelerdynasty2010 - Oct 10, 2012 at 9:47 AM

    and what in the world do they suggest he do?

    • lostpuppysyndrome - Oct 10, 2012 at 11:37 AM

      20 sessions of sensitivity training, group therapy every Tuesday and Thursday, and probably some psychotropic meds.

  9. rcali - Oct 10, 2012 at 4:19 PM

    What, the coach couldn’t give him a “time-out?” Maybe he was out of Time-Outs for the practice?