Question: Read your interesting article about McClatchy's football program. Glad to see there are some fine young men willing to play for the love of the game. I graduated from McClatchy in 1961 and I know things have changed a lot, but back when all the PE instructors were head coaches or assistant coaches in team sports. There were no walk-on coaches. Do the schools no longer have full-time PE instructors? If they do, don't they have to coach a sport as part of their job? The need to have walk-on coaches seems to be not the best way to go for a lot of reasons, and I've always wondered about their qualifications to coach, especially in football where the chance for injury is so great.
Answer: 61 percent of the coaches involved in high school sports in California are walk-ons, according to the latest CIF survey, although most head football coaches still tend to be on campus. Part of this is because PE is not mandatory in all grades in high school, so there are fewer P.E. teachers, and part of it is the expansion in the number of sports offered, including girls sports. Compounding the problem: It once was often required by school administrators that if you were a P.E. instructor you had to coach after-school teams. That was at a time when it wasn't uncommon to have a teacher coach a sport in the fall, the winter and the spring. But the courts ruled a long time ago that school districts could no longer do that, and all that was before the growth of year-round sports programs. In a lot of established school districts, the P.E. teachers on staff are older and near retirement age and no longer have the desire to coach after school, especially in light of the increased time demands and the pressure to win.
- Bill Paterson