This book, by Jeffrey Marx, was recommended to me by a man who is highly involved in coaching youth football. I know next to nothing about football, so I wasn’t sure I would like it. I was hooked in the first three chapters. Here is an excerpt from chapter three.
“What is our job as coaches?” he asked. “To love us,” the boys yelled back in unison. “What is your job?” Joe shot back. “To love each other,” the boys responded. The words were spoken with the familiarity of a mantra, the commitment of an oath, the enthusiasm of a pep rally. This was football?
The coach, Joe Ehrmann, was a former professional football player. His devotion to these high school players is not focused on football skills or winning but in helping them become exemplary young men. His code revolves around four “strategic masculinity traits” that form what he calls “the moral and ethical foundation” of a man. Joe believes these traits must be intentionally taught to boys. “It will not just happen on its own.” The traits are:
- accepting responsibility
- leading courageously
- enacting justice on behalf of others
- expecting God’s greater rewards
The author follows the football team through a season, and is able to see the challenges as well as the celebrations. His meetings with “Coach Joe” changed his life, and I’m sure will continue to reach and change the lives of many others. “Coach Joe” expands on topics such false masculintiy, relationships of a real man, working for a greater cause, and empathy. This book is a wealth of good advice and example. God knows we need good examples.
This book reaches beyond football – to anyone who cares for the future of manhood. The definition of manhood is changing, and not always toward the good. Internal character is being replaced with brash talk, attitudes that treat women as objects, and an coveting an image of being powerful, wealthy, or both.
“Good” doesn’t just happen. Being bad is easy with all the bad role models and idle time. Being good takes work on the part of many people. This book moves me to join those who work for the change toward good.