What a Teacher Can Learn by Watching Hard Knocks


I played high school football. I also coached it for 15 years. What I never liked about the sport, was how few games there were in comparison to what seemed like endless practice sessions. I love HBO’s series “Hard Knocks” because it’s all about practice…training camp to be exact.

I especially like the show because it’s so rich in terms of relationship dynamics. Even though these are professional athletes, coaches and ownership are constantly searching for ways to motivate their players. A big part of this effort is creating relationships amongst the players, and between the players and coaches. To a large extent, it’s what the show is all about!

This season focuses on the Atlanta Falcons. Here’s 54 second trailer. I have to say, I’m not impressed with what I’ve seen so far. Atlanta underachieved last year, which didn’t sit well with their sulking, melancholy owner Arthur Blank. He was particularly upset when his players did not retaliate in the first game last year when their quarterback was cheapshoted. So this year, he’s instructed head coach Mike Smith to instill a level of aggressiveness in practice. Blank stomps around the sidelines scowling. The players respond by constantly fighting…apparently what they’ve been encouraged to do!

I’ve watched other episodes of Hard Knocks and there’s always some fighting, but this was over the top. It’ll be interesting to see how this series progresses. I can’t imagine, at this point, the Falcons playing like a team…a family.

As I watch, I think about my style of teaching. There are similarities between coaching in the NFL and teaching high school. High school teachers and coaches are trying to help young people be the best they can be. I would never foster such a confrontational atmosphere in my class. I would never create an every man and woman for him or herself mentality. I don’t think it’s constructive, or productive. I’m fascinated to see where this goes!

“You’ve Gotta Connect”