In 1996, 4,000 baseball coaches met at the Opryland hotel for the annual ABCA convention. Coach John Scolinos, 50-year coaching legend, was the keynote speaker. His message is something that everyone one of us needs to hear, so here is my best stab at summarizing an abridged version:
When he walked up to the podium he shocked the crowd with his prop which was a simple home plate with a string hanging from his neck. He asked the crowd, "How wide is a full-size home plate?" He then asked how wide was it back in Babe Ruth's day, how wide is a T-ball home plate, high school, college, minor league and then finally major league. The unanimous answer of course was "17 inches." Home plate is the same width for every stage of the game.
He then asked, "What do they do to a major league pitcher that can't throw a ball over this 17 inch plate?" The crowd answered that, "They Can Him!" He then asked, "What do they do if a player decides not to come to practice?" The crowd answered, "They Can Him!"
Then he began to move on to his message by saying, "That's right, we don't widen the plate to 20 inches just because a pitcher can't hit 17. We don't change the practice time just because a player decides he has something better to do."
He then took a sharpie and drew a picture of a house on home plate and showed it to the crowd. He said "The problem that we face today begins in our homes. When it comes to our marriage, our parenting and our kids, we don't teach discipline or accountability and there is no consequence for failing to meet standards. Instead, we just widen the plate. Education in our schools systems is deteriorating at a rapid rate, and instead of holding the responsible parties accountable, we widen the plate. Instead of holding our church leaders accountable for their actions, we widen the plate. Our government makes rules for themselves that don't apply to our citizens and they take bribes from Lobbyist and foreign countries and what do we do? We widen the plate!"
He then moved to his conclusion which was this, "If we fail to hold ourselves to a higher standard, a standard which we know to be right; If we fail to hold our spouse and our children to the same standard, if we are unwilling or unable to provide a consequence when they do not meet that standard; And if our schools and churches and our government fail to hold themselves accountable to those whom they serve, there is but one thing to look forward to...."
With that, he turned the plate around on his chest and revealed its dark black side.
"Dark days ahead ... Coaches, keep your players, no matter how good they are, your own children, your schools, your churches, your government and most of all keep yourself at 17 inches."