Not many people can begin to understand the challenges of coaching football during the course of a pandemic. Even less can understand the difficulty of wearing a mask while coaching on the sidelines. If you flip on any game this season you will likely see a coach remove a mask in order to project his voice, end up with the mask around his neck or chin and sometimes just simply fail to keep it on. Often this draws scrutiny from fans.
Today after being asked about the difficulty of coaching with a mask on, Penn State head coach James Franklin is being praised for this response:
"For me, it is really important. I talked to my entire staff before the game that I wanted people that watch the Penn State football game, not just to be proud of what we put on the field, but I think at Penn State, our fan base, our Lettermen, our alumni, they want to be proud of everything they seen on the field. So for me, I wanted to make sure that my staff knew from the head coach's perspective that I wanted to be an example of a team that's doing it right. You know, not the mask that's below the chin the whole game, or not the mask that you pull down to talk. And did that create challenges? Yes. You know.Have we all realized that our hearing is probably not as good as we thought because we're reading lips as well as listening when we talk? Yes. When you're trying to scream something to a player on the field is it easier to do without a mask on? Yeah. But I wanted people to watch Penn State football and say, look at their sideline, look at their coaches, look how they're going about it and trying to do it the right way under very challenging circumstances. Now, at the end of the day, is anybody talking about that? No, everybody's just talking about the results on the field, and I get that. But, to me as the head coach at Penn State, our goal is to try to do it all and do it the right way."
Franklin's hard line about the standard he wants to set for his sideline is important for not only the fans but the players as well. Players who have been asked to follow strict COVID protocols at all levels of athletics this season, have the chance to see true leadership set by example from their coaches. Franklin demonstrates that.
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