Toxic Athletes and Coaches


This is notabout doping; this is about those athletes and coaches that because oftheir behavior or attitude can kill a team or an organization. I wasinspired to write this by reading Seth Godin’s post yesterday on toxicemployees. Much of what we have been reading about in the sport pagesthe past few weeks has been about toxic athletes. They are athleteswhose talent fools us, we tolerate aberrant or deviant behavior, evendestructive behavior because they are so talented, and they will helpus win. I have always called them “coach killers’ because these are thetype of athletes that will get you fired. They in essence “overpromise” and under deliver. They always show just enough flashes ofbrilliance to keep fooling everyone, especially rich owners, but if youhave to live and work with that athlete everyday you know what a drainthey are on the coaches and team. Sometimes the press really lovesthese guys because the “are great in the locker room” when in essencethey are a cancer. I know one player who is a major league manager nowwho fit this modus operandi, he actually kept his team from winning asa player, but the press and owner loved him.

Ialso feel you have toxic coaches, management personnel and evenathletic trainers. These people through their negativity or theirinability to be part of the team drain the team. I have worked for twotoxic team owners in my career and that is not fun. We need a sportEnvironmental Protection Agency to put these people and their toxicbehavior in a toxic waste dump. Recognize toxic behavior and weed itout now or it will fester and grow like a virulent cancer.

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Vern Gambetta

Vern Gambetta

Director at Gambetta Sports Training Systems
Vern is the Director of Gambetta Sports Training Systems. He has been the a conditioning coach for several MLS teams as well as the conditioning consultant to the US Men's World Cup Soccer team. Vern is the former Director of Conditioning for the Chicago White Sox and New York Mets. He has lectured and conducted clinics in Canada, Japan, Australia and Europe and has authored six books and over one hundred articles related to coaching and sport performance in a variety of sports. He has a BA in teaching with a coaching minor and an MA in Education with an emphasis in physical education from Stanford University.
Vern Gambetta


Athletic Development Coach & Consultant. Founder of GAIN Network. Proud dad. Love to read everything.
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Vern Gambetta

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