Football is the quintessential American sport. Like all other sports, it has coaches. In fact, professional (NFL) and college football (NCAA) teams usually have coaches for every position in the offense and the defense. To those of you who are unfamiliar with football, coaches related to the offense (wide receivers coach, tight ends coach, etc.) adhere to the principles and methods of the offensive coordinator. Similarly, all coaches related to the defense (corners coach, safeties coach, etc.) follow the strategy given by the defensive coordinator. Above this hierarchical structure is the head coach position. Both the offensive and defensive coordinators, who are usually selected by the head coach, implement their strategies while adhering to the general principles of the head coach. Ultimately, the head coach is responsible for the success of his team as well as its failures. Since every year counts, failure to produce results with players often leads to a head coach being fired. Additionally, loss of support from players is another cause for head coach dismissal. These reasons explain why many head coaches have had (and lost) several jobs in different teams or universities over their career. There are, however, ways to ensure tenure in a head coach position.
In order to maintain longevity, the primary goal of every head coach must be success. An example of a successful coach is Coach Herman Boone who successfully integrated the T.C. Williams High School football team and led them to a state championship. His story was portrayed by Denzel Washington in the movie Remember the Titans. In the movie, Coach Boone uses several tactics and strategies to reach success. First, he ensures a margin of support by picking strong advisors. Specifically, he picks the former head coach of the team Bill Yoast as his defensive coordinator. This action not only gave him a good advisor but also helped with the integration of the team. To help combine the team, Boone uses long and grueling practices to make players work together. These practices ultimately culminate in Boone taking the team to Gettysburg where tells the team that they must unite or they will be destroyed. His actions eventually lead the team to bond and win the state championship. Coach Boone’s success allowed him to continue head coaching for many years.
Many successful coaches have similar qualities to Coach Boone. In fact, an analysis leads me to assert that successful coaches share the qualities that of philosopher Machiavelli’s ideal prince who he describes in his book The Prince. One example is when Machiavelli stated that princes should have good advisors who are loyal but not overpowering. Coach Boone and many successful coaches often have advisors who help lead them to success. In Coach Boone’s case, he had the help of Bill Yoast as a great advisor. Another example is Boone’s use of cruelty. Boone punishes players by having excessive practices in order to convey his message. Although most coaches today do not go to such extreme measures, they may sit players in order to convey their message. In the movie, Boone also uses an element of fear like a prince when confronted by his players (Gerry near the bus) and makes sure to make an example out of them in order to establish that he is in charge. Another important trait that coaches must have is the ability to inspire and act like they will be able to win even when facing adversity. This trait is similar to Machiavelli’s belief that princes should be able to act with feelings if needed. Additionally, like Machiavelli’s princes who are always preparing for war, coaches are always preparing for games. They study film and establish strategies. Lastly, coaches make sure to maintain the support and loyalty of their team much like Machiavelli’s message that princes need to maintain the support of their people. All these traits and similarities lead me to say coaches are similar in their attitudes and actions to the ideal prince in Machiavelli’s The Prince.
Although most coaches share some qualities with Machiavelli’s ideal prince, some truly stand out. Any person who is familiar with sports history will be able to spot them. These coaches most likely have stayed the majority of their career at one location, have had success, and maintain strong support from the community. These are no ordinary coaches for they have truly made an impact upon generations and have earned lifelong respect. These coaches are truly regal coaches.