I was never accused of being a great athlete. My sports career was limited to pickup games in the backyard, some recreation leagues, and to sporadic playing time as a soccer and basketball player for the St. Francis Eagles, the school I attended in Louisville during my seventh and eighth grade years.
Still, my sports experiences for the most part were positive, and I respected and looked up to my coaches.
They knew I worked hard and rewarded me with praise and enough playing time to keep me feeling part of the team.
It's a lesson James Guillen could learn from. Guillen is the 24-year-old middle school basketball coach from New Jersey who embarrassed one of his players by awarding the child with the "Crybaby" award during the team's annual end-of-the-year banquet.
Guillen had a special trophy made up for the boy and after awarding certificates and trophies to other players on the team, the so-called coach made his special presentation.
On top of the trophy was a miniature crying doll.
The coach, who obviously lacks intelligence, couldn't even spell the player's name correctly.
Coaches are supposed to be role models. This is a concept Guillen apparently hasn't picked up on during his brief career.
I have no doubt some students can get on the last nerve of their teachers.
Reports indicate, Terrence Philo, Jr. complained about a lack of playing time and was described as a whiner. I say, so what.
There were plenty of other ways for the coach to handle his frustration with the middle-school student's behavior instead of public humiliation.
A meeting with the young player and his parents would have been a good place to start. He could have even cut the player if all else failed.
Coach Guillen is lucky the young man's father didn't come out of his chair and start a riot right there in the banquet hall.
The school board where he works has recommended Guillen be fired, but that's apparently under appeal, since only the district's superintendent can dismiss the student.
Perhaps Guillen used bad judgement. Maybe he thought this was just a funny joke, or maybe he was just so angry at this young man he didn't think about the backlash it would cause.
Regardless of his intent, Guillen shouldn't be coaching. I doubt he should be teaching children. Some jokes just go way to far.
Sports at the middle school level should be about building character and self-esteem, it shouldn't be about singling out a youngster who doesn't match up.
I just hope this incident hasn't spoiled the great game of basketball for this young man.
I also hope Guillen offers some sort of sincere apology. Then maybe there would be hope for this young teacher. If he doesn't apologize, he should find another line of work. One that doesn't involve working with impressionable young children.
(Doug Gorman is sports editor of the Daily. His column appears on Fridays. He can be e-mailed at dgorman news-daily.com)