Thursday, August 17, 2017

Participation Vs. Numbers


My boss told me yesterday that I should have at least five people signed up in the youth boxing classes.  "There's no way that a free class shouldn't be full," he said.  That is true, but it doesn't work like that.  I can't force people to sign up regardless if they do not have to pay money. Boxing is a hard sell to kids who are more interested in MMA and professional wrestling.  The sport takes patience and being focused to learn, but the attention spans of most kids today have been damaged by their exposure to video games and inappropriate video clips on YouTube and WorldStar.

Some parents are okay with their kids being knocked around during football and basketball games, but draw the line at them taking punches.  Too many parents either because of willful inattention or just plain laziness don't keep up with registration schedules.  I don't often have a full class until late in the session and one of the main excuses I hear from parents who sign up their kids late is, "Oh, I forgot."  A lot of parents don't bother to keep up with the class schedule, either. For example, I still get people showing on Tuesday asking me, "Where were you yesterday?"  I've been working there for three years, and the gym has never been open on Mondays.

Boxing is not that appealing to the adults around that area, either.  Adults have told me they just want to hit the bags, but they only seem to want to do it when the mood hits them.  They don't want to pay for it, either, despite being shown that private gyms charge steep fees and those fees don't usually include receiving training.

Frankly, I could care less about numbers.  Participation is more important to me.  Showing a full roster on paper means nothing when sparring sessions can't take place because only one kid showed up to the class that day.  Having every slot full doesn't amount to much when I've been sitting in an empty gym most of the week.  I refuse to buy into the idea that it more acceptable for people to sign up than it is for people to show up and be present.  Unfortunately, I have learned that some with the Chicago Park District do not have an interest in doing a day's work for a day's pay.  They brag about having "easy jobs" and making "easy money".  It doesn't matter to them that a class or activity performing poorly because the less they have to do, the better.   They only do enough to avoid being written up or fired. But I wasn't raised to have a poor work ethic.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Last Week Of A Thankless Session


Being a boxing coach can be a very thankless job.  I am so glad that this is the last week of the summer session.  On top of this being a crappy season for me personally, it also has not been a good one at the gym.

I'm still trying to figure out how people can sign up for a class in the middle of the session and then decide they're not going to attend half of the time.  That's exactly what happened this session.  It happens during most of the year, but it's way more glaring in the summer when I'm trying to gather a decent number of people to participate in the boxing shows.  Youths disappear without them (or their parents/guardians for that matter) giving me a heads-up as to why.

Last week, I was getting into my car to go home when I spotted Ariel hanging out in the park with several of her friends.  She could have and should have been in the gym that day.  She's only been there four times during this 10-week period.  I'm fresh out of ideas as to what to do in that situation.  Julius, a personal trainer at the field house, and I had given her a long talk some time ago about prioritizing things and practicing good time management.  I now have to assume we weren't being heard.  Ariel has been in the program a little over a year and her class attendance has become worse during each session.

Maurice's mom signed him up for the fall session. But they don't live in the immediate area, and his mom is a seasonal employee at the field house.  I like Maurice, but I have the sinking feeling that he won't finish out the fall session if he actually attends it at all.  Maurice hasn't been showing up much for the current session and he never made it to any of the boxing shows.  On top of that, his brother never showed up for the teen class.  He told his mom he didn't want to be in the class after she signed him up, probably without asking him if he was interested.

At least the gym didn't suffer as much of the wear and tear from the summer camp kids and counselors this time around.  I'd like to think the ongoing mutual dislike between the camp coordinator and I had something to do with that.  Now that she (and our supervisor) knows without question that I don't appreciate the summer camp kids being in my gym,  I haven't had to walk into much disarray down there.  I'm guessing no one wanted to hear my complaints.

I gave up a while ago on keeping the gym open during the breaks in-between sessions.  Sitting in an empty gym twiddling my thumbs because most don't bother to come to class during the regular session is already NOT a good use of my precious time.  I'm not going to do the same in-between sessions.  My time would be put to better use entering the attendance records, cleaning the equipment, sweeping up the equipment room, making fliers, and other tasks that I can't easily get done during the regular sessions.

Unfortunately, I'm not expecting better from the fall session, despite the adult class having been added back onto the schedule.  Two things keep coming to my mind.  Maybe if the youths were also being charged a fee for the class like the adults are,  the boxing coaches wouldn't have to deal with so many youths who have no interest, motivation, or focus.  The second thing is, I have yet to see the community's alleged interest in wanting the boxing program to be re-established at LaFollette.  As far as I'm concerned, there's not much interest at all.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Stood Up At Seward

It rained hard at various times today.  But luckily, the ring was able to be moved into the basketball gym at Seward Park, so the boxing show went on.  Just as I expected, neither Iz, his brother Abraham, nor David showed up.  I shouldn't take it personally when the kids stand me up at these shows because they lose out on opportunities, not me.  But I get irritated anyway.  I always see kids with whom they could have been matched up.

Hamlin Park had the most number of fighters there.  Alan showed me a text from Barry saying that all of Barry's fighters couldn't make the show.  Alan also received a text from Ben who couldn't make it because he couldn't get out of work early enough.  Boxers from Taylor, Portage, and Fuller rounded out the rest of the participants.

I spent the entire show judging the matches, and most of them very close.  The Taylor Park fighters were particularly rough in their dealings with opponents.

Mike G. was judging, too, but I didn't get a chance to talk to him.  His show is next week at Sheridan Park.  I'll try again to get some of my fighters to actually attend.  However, this summer hasn't particularly been a good one, and I'm not expecting any better this season.