Recently, I found myself in a debate about which curse words were acceptable for an adult coach to use with an elementary school-aged team. Playing like sh*t? That’s ok, as long as it’s not directed at one player. Damn good job? That’s fine, it’s positive. F-bomb? No, that’s not ok with me.
I played many sports growing up—soccer, swim team, volleyball and basketball. I do not ever remember one of my coaches swearing.
The decent side of me believes that it's never ok for adults to swear in front of kids. Try as I might to keep my language clean, the occasional four-letter word will slip out. My realistic side knows that kids hear profanity every single day—on the radio, in their video games and movies. It’s typical kid behavior to use the words amongst their peers.
There is no denying that Tony Dungy was under pressure back in 2007 when he coached the Indianapolis Colts to a Super Bowl victory. He did it without ever swearing at his team. He is the exception to the rule, as we can easily read the lips of many NFL coaches and decipher their profanity. It’s not limited to the pros—it’s college-level down to 5th grade travel teams.