Coach's Corner: Sports have advanced, and that's good. But there are things I miss

  • Remember when bowling alleys looked more like this one? OK, or at least when they didn't flash your score to the entire place?

    Remember when bowling alleys looked more like this one? OK, or at least when they didn't flash your score to the entire place? Courtesy of the Arlington Heights Historical Society, 1928

  • Dodgeball/bombardment is one of those games that should stand the test of time, Coach says.

    Dodgeball/bombardment is one of those games that should stand the test of time, Coach says. Daily Herald file photo

  • Associated Press file photoIs there a goalie inside that pile of stuff taking up nearly the entire goal? It's hard to tell.

    Associated Press file photoIs there a goalie inside that pile of stuff taking up nearly the entire goal? It's hard to tell.

  • Jon Cohn

    Jon Cohn

Updated 7/22/2021 3:57 AM

Sports and recreation have advanced in many ways over the past couple decades. The changes sometimes minor, other times near-startling. New rules, new techniques, new technology, new equipment, new venues. Sometimes even completely new sports!

Most of the changes are welcome additions and have further progressed our enjoyment of the games we play and watch.


Most. But not all.

This week's column is dedicated to the things I miss and wish we had back.

Football huddle

The old-school football huddle was classic. A sense of team togetherness as players gathered to catch their breath, encourage each other, even hold hands, and then call the next play. When breaking the huddle, the traditional "ready and clap" was sweet music to a football fan's ears.

You watch a game now and the players rarely huddle. They spread out at the line and then stand and wait for the play call from the coach. The coaches check out the defense first, then they signal in the play call. Meanwhile the players are standing, watching and waiting. Not much fun for the player or the fans.

Bowling alleys

Oh, how I miss the bowling alleys of days gone by. Where you had that nice, thick red pencil, and you kept score on your own scoresheet. You could even fudge that score a little bit if no one was noticing (tough, though, because those red pencils did not have erasers)

Also, the old alleys had a certain "lived-in " smell. Maybe it was the shoes.

Now? The newfangled bowling alleys are like flashy entertainment centers with computer scoreboards shining overhead, displaying showing your score to the entire alley. Their brilliant technology does all the work for you, recording every shot, automatically calculating scores, and visually showing you where to best aim for the next throw (I purposely don't follow this instruction). The last lane I was at even recorded and showed the MPH of how fast I was throwing the ball. Really?

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Yuck! Bring me back to the old-school days of bowling. And back then, all the bowling balls were black, not turquoise, magenta, fuchsia and purple swirl.

Marching bands

I have written about this before. I love a good marching band! Adds so much to the atmosphere and enjoyment of various sporting events. But the marching bands these days? They are more of a theatrical production, with flag waving, dancers, solo numbers, stage and scenery, all complemented by verbal narration from the PA announcer.

I say to this recent musical development; no, no, and double no.

Please get back to playing the great schools songs and marching songs we all love so much, and then entertain the fans with some cool formations and moves. Keep it simple. Upbeat marching music is what we want to hear.

Save the theatrics for weekend band competitions (if you must).

Pushups, situps, and chin-ups

The amount of newfangled exercise equipment and technology that is available these days is truly off-the-charts. Most of it is fine, I suppose. But good old-fashioned lift-your-own-weight exercises, like pushups and situps, are still among the best things you can do. Feeling really crazy? Do a burpee.


Hockey goalies

Have you seen how much equipment they wear now? It looks like part-horror movie and part-pads-on-steroids convention. The leg guards alone are wider than most flat-screen TVs, and the face mask has more extensions than pick-your-favorite-Kardashian.

If you look really closely, I think you can actually see the openings in the goal. But with all that goalie equipment? Barely. Solution? Either widen the goal mouth, or rein in the equipment sizing for its original purpose: injury prevention.

Bring back bombardment!

I know, I know. The currently philosophy dictates we tone it down in our P.E. classes, and dodgeball and bombardment -- with the old red rubber ball -- was just too violent. That thing would sting if you got nailed. Yeah, yeah, yeah, and yada, yada, yada. Some things should stand the test of time. Bombardment is one of them. Other games and sports come and go, and rise and die in popularity, but "bombardment lives on." Or at least it should. Bring this game back into our schools and, no, not with those cushiony foam balls. A fully inflated red rubber ball size 8½-inches by 11 inches is the ONLY way to go.

Let the players play

High school baseball coaches calling every pitch is pretty much standard these days. You go watch a game, and literally every pitch is called from the bench. The type of pitch and the location. The catcher first looks to the coach. Then the pitcher has to get the signal from the catcher and ... off we go. I understand, I guess, the strategic advantage. But are we overthinking and over-coaching? I always enjoyed it -- and I think the players did too -- when the catcher and pitcher, on their own, would figure out what pitch to throw. Makes for a quicker game, and a better learning experience for the young athletes.

No 'I' in team

This one should probably be right at the top of this page. It is maybe my biggest pet peeve in current sports at all levels: When the player who scores runs away from his teammates to showboat for the fans. You have seen it many times. The players scores a goal or crosses the goal line for a touchdown and all his teammates run toward him to celebrate. But instead of embracing them and letting collective emotions run wild, the individual runs away from their teammates over to the TV cameras, signaling to the crowd, or in some way bringing attention to themselves.

Brutal! The teammates running toward you are the ones who helped you score with their block or pass or screen. Celebrate with them first! Let them, too, soak up the enjoyment of the moment. Then, and only then ... if you want, do your thing and bring attention to yourself by running toward the stands.

This list could go on and on. Don't get me started. Actually, I already am started; maybe a cold bucket of water is what I really need.

Either way, thanks for letting the old guy write and remember back to some better sport days that apparently are long gone by.

• Jon Cohn of Glenview is a coach, retired PE teacher, sports official and prep sports fan. To contact him with comments or story ideas, email

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