Los Angeles Coaches of Influence guru Nelson Cook in his latest newsletter to his coaching charges from high school, college and professional sport coaches centers on a message from the St. Louis Cardinals Manager Mike Matheny on Sportsmanship for Kids
Nelson writes: The World Series has come and gone and we wait with baited breath for next seasons' MLB baseball season, we'd like to highlight Mike Matheny, manager of the St. Louis Cardinals.
He wrote a very poignant letter about sportsmanship for kids to the parents of the Little League team he coached after he retired as a player:
I always said that the only team that I would coach would be a team of orphans, and now here we are. The reason for me saying this is that I have found the biggest problem with youth sports has been the parents.
I think that it is best to nip this in the bud right off the bat. I think the concept that I am asking all of you to grab is that this experience is all about the boys. If there is anything about it that includes you, we need to make a change of plans. My main goals are as follows:
1. To teach these young men how to play the game of baseball the right way
2. To be a positive impact on them as young men
3. Do all of this with class.
We may not win every game, but we will be the classiest coaches, players, and parents in every game we play. The boys are going to play with a respect for their team mates, opposition, and the umpires no matter what …
Let the record stand right now that we will not have good umpiring. This is a fact, and the sooner we all understand that, the better off we will be. We will have balls that bounce in the dirt that will be called strikes, and we will have balls over our heads that will be called strikes.
Likewise, the opposite will happen with the strike zone while we are pitching. The boys will not be allowed at any time to show any emotion against the umpire. They will not shake their head, or pout, or say anything to the umpire. This is my job, and I will do it well.
I once got paid to handle those guys, and I will let them know when they need to hear something. I am really doing all of you parents a favour that you probably don't realise at this point.
I have taken out any work at all for you except to get them there on time, and enjoy. The thing that these boys need to hear is that you enjoyed watching them and you hope that they had fun.
Our culture today is one of entitlement, lack of respect for authority, self-centeredness, and pride. It's unfortunate that we seem to have forgotten Romans 13 verse 1. Let every person be in subjection to those in authority. For there is no authority except from God.
Nelson sent this message to his coaches.
"Coaches, we have the chance to set the tone and provide the model of respect. May the Lord use you greatly."
Nelson Cook has been a great mentor to me in sports ministry for over 30 years and I've had the privilege of being hosted by Nelson with numerous sporty ministry study tours.
The last study tour one was in Los Angeles in 2009 where I was invited to speak to many of the coaches groups over breakfasts, lunches, dinners, one to one and a men's breakfast at his LA church.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children. Dr Tronson writes a daily article for Christian Today Australia (since 2008) and in November 2016 established Christian Today New Zealand. Dr Mark Tronson’s Press Service International in 2019 was awarded the Australasian Religious Press Association’s premier award, The Gutenberg.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at