Ethnography - Inter-team Conflict with the Coach

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Ethnography - Inter-team Conflict with the Coach

Recently, two strong sophomore players quit the varsity women’s water polo team. They said that they were no longer having fun, one saying that the time commitment “just was not worth it anymore,” while the other said that playing polo at Oxy was making her more and more unhappy.” Earlier in the season, one of the players who was named first team All American and MVP of the National Tournament, also almost quit the team for good. Again, her reasoning was that the game was not fun for her anymore. She also expressed that she felt unappreciated by the coach for her efforts at Nationals, as well as for her leadership on the team on a regular basis.

These withdrawals reminded me of the last two years when I was on the team. I recall how often I would hear the other players express their discontent about being on the team. However, the problem did not lie in the team in itself, but rather in the coach and his ways.

Interestingly, although I was a member of the team, I truly was not aware of the problem at hand. I, above and beyond, was a novice player and almost never received anything but positive encouragement from the coach. It is important to realize that I had never played, or even seen, the game of water polo before coming to Oxy, and therefore learned a lot by coming to practice and watching and learning from the reminders and criticism that the coach would give.

Nevertheless, I did have a lot of experience swimming under various coaches—some of whom where the meanest of the mean. It is for this reason that I felt that the other players were often being overly sensitive to the criticisms (which I viewed more often than not as constructive) that the coach would give. Of course, there would betimes that I felt that he would pick on (or yell more at) certain players. But I believe that there are few coaches that specifically try to bring down moral and cause players to hate the game.

Yet, despite the fact that the coach may not mean to bring down moral and cause players to hate the game, it seems he has done something to cause two, almost three, players that played in the National Championship tournament to quit the team.

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