The snap was perfect.
Unfortunately, the holder couldn’t hang on. The potential game-tying PAT was unsuccessful, and the playoff game was lost.
To be truthful, the play was doomed from the start. The alignment was off. The holder was too close to the line.
But at the end of the day, does it really matter?
After all, these were 9- and 10-year-old kids who are still learning the game. It just didn’t work out. In their defense, it wasn’t something they spent a whole lot of time working on during practice or even on the sideline leading up to the touchdown that brought them so close.
As a result, 18 boys walked off the field that night bummed out that the season had ended. Some of them could not hold back the tears. After all the work during spring conditioning, training camp, practices and eight regular season games, the boys wanted more than one playoff game. You can’t blame them.
They played their hearts out, but what followed in following moments hurt one player more than actually losing the game. A teammate played the blame game, and that is something that shouldn’t happen.
After the winning team ran out the clock, the dejected group of youngsters that came up short gathered for some words of encouragement from the coaches. As the players walked off the field toward their families, one player went up to the young man who snapped the ball and said: “You lost the game for us.”
The snapper already was sad. Now, he was devastated. Soon, everyone realized what happened but by then the finger-pointer had left with his family.
It’s easy to lay blame on Sunday afternoons when professionals screw up. They are paid millions to be perfect.
Children need to realize though that football is the ultimate team game, and in a close contest there are always a number of plays left on the field that could have changed the outcome.
The bottom line: Don’t pay the blame game and teach your kids not to as well. Coaches and parents must teach young players that no matter what happens, have respect for your teammates. You celebrate as a team, and you accept the loss as a team.
Even if a player makes a terrible mistake at the end of a game, the worst thing you can do is make him feel worse than he already does.
In this situation, had the coach heard what was said, I can guarantee you that he would have gathered the team back together and pointed out that there are be no scapegoats. I would like to think that the parents of the boy would say the same thing.
I think this is something that a coach should discuss with the players when they gather at training camp. It’s also probably a good idea for the coaches to have a meeting with the parents about a number of topics but to include the ramifications of a child playing the blame game.
A football team, at any age level, relies on chemistry to be successful. Players need to become a family, depending on and trusting each other.
Pointing fingers is not productive and too often damaging to a young athlete still learning the game.
Peter Schwartz is an anchor and reporter for the CBS Sports Radio Network. He also writes a CBS New York sports blog athttp://newyork.cbslocal.com/tag/peter-schwartz/. You can follow him on Twitter @pschwartzcbsfan. Peter’s son Bradley plays for the Levittown Red Devils of the Nassau Suffolk Football League on Long Island in New York. His son Jared cheers on Bradley and then Bradley returns the favor when Jared is playing soccer.