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Coach: Lessons on the Game of Life Hardcover – April 17, 2005
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But then I heard an interview with Lewis on NPR radio. The book was originally a magazine article in the New York Times Magazine. He summarized the story in a few minutes. A coach he had at his prep school (I didn't even catch what sport Lewis was playing) had changed his life by treating him, in a critical moment in a must-win game, as if he was the clutch player Lewis and every other kid dreams of being. Lewis rose to the occasion and the confidence he gained from the experience radiated to his academic work and beyond. But now, twenty-some years later, the parents at the private school are pressuring the headmaster to oust the coach. They say his heavy-handed ways are hurting their kids' self-esteem. Lewis ended his radio summary by revealing that publicity from the New York Times article had resulted in the coach keeping his job, although the school was now looking for a new headmaster.
What a great story. It was short and had conflict as well as a satisfying ending. But then I read the book, which is simply the article, unchanged.
In it, the coach has a temper that seems uncontrolled and frightening, even to the adult Lewis. Coach takes a second-place trophy his team won and smashes it on the locker room floor, indicating his disgust at not winning first. He refuses to drive home when the team has lost, obsessively walking miles through New Orleans at night (yikes) to punish himself for being a loser.Read more ›
Lewis' high school coach drives them hard. The kids don't understand why initially. Over time, they learn that through hard work they can achieve their goals--not just in athletics.
Casual readers, based on earlier reviews, seem to think that the coach is obsessed with winning; they miss the point (just as Lewis did when he was in 7th grade). Lewis talks about a season when the team was 1-12: The coaches frustration is not with the win-loss record, but that they kids possess the drive to improve and compete. He is not preparing them to win baseball games, but obtain their goals for years to come in life.
The book is a criticism of a growing opinion among parents that kids are born with respect, instead of needing to develop it. Achievement builds selfrespect, not conception. Parents should be exposing their children to fear and failure to allow them to overcome these obstacles instead of protecting them from it.
The touching element is that a successful author living comfortably in the Bay area champions someone that people no longer believe in, because this person championed him when nobody, including Lewis, believed in himself. It is the ultimate strength of character that Lewis' coach successfully cultivated in Lewis and others.
As a subscriber to the New York Times, I get the magazine. Unfortunately I did not see this article when it was published.Read more ›
This is exactly the type of book you would want to send your grandchildren or have your own children read.
It sends a powerful message and being written by someone having been coached by this person at the age of 13 makes it even more valid.
It may be short, but that's the beauty of it. It keeps your interest, gets the point across and leaves you wishing for more or better yet, offers the opportunity for discussion with young adults.
Fitz entered Lewis's mind at age 12 and has stayed there ever since. Think about that rare teacher or coach that has stayed with you into your adult life; reminisce with Lewis as he rediscovers the attributes of this relationship and its impact on his life.
Lewis's catalyst for this book was hearing that a former player was organizing an effort to remodel the old school gym and have it named after Fitz. Current players and their parents were doing all they could to persuade the headmaster to get rid of Fitz, while at the same time, cash was pouring in from former players and their parents.
This conflict allows Lewis to contrast a time when Fitz worked tirelessly to give his boys a sense that their lives could be something other than ordinary with a time - today - when values and character are less important. Fitz's effectiveness ended when he could not adapt to the change - the culture of "kids being bestowed with a sense of self-esteem at birth."
The system of values he attempted to instill is no longer in alignment the parents nor with the culture. His system is no longer wanted - it is not "in" - and is no longer tolerated. Getting rid of him is the only solution.
"Coach" transcends the events surrounding Fitz and the gym, revealing the dark side of today's society which has lost its way, one no longer wanting to develop kids for a life filled with honorable values...and meaning.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great read on life lessons, takes me back to the teachers and coaches that had an impact in my life. Not a long read, easy to do in a short reading session.Published 3 months ago by Harry
In case you were wondering and even if you weren't, Michael. Even a strong and useful and entertaining lesson can be devalued.Published 8 months ago by George Fowler
A different kind of book for Michael Lewis; one of personal experience and life.
However he manages to make the point that life has changed since "way back... Read more
In a day where grit and perseverance are treated as relics, Michael Lewis engages readers with his fascinating account of his high school baseball coach.Published 9 months ago by Joel S.
Biased bc I am am Lewis fan
But it is a great true story and being a coach it helps me take a look in the mirror