Instant Experts & Snake Oil Salesmen


Now we have another phenomenon going that I find quite interesting and actually very alarming. I call it the “Teach for America Syndrome”. You get admitted to an elite program like Teach For America (Actually quite a good program) you serve your two years, you leave, you write a book about your experience, now you are an expert. In contrast to this look at Rafe Esquith a very experienced teacher who wrote a book about his experiences – Teach Like Your Hair’s on Fire – after twenty-five years plus in the classroom, it is about his success and failures. It is clear that he has the earned the credibility to write the book and be an expert through multiple experiences actually teaching. If you need practical advice on teaching isn’t that whom would you listen to and follow as opposed to someone who taught two or three years? In our field we have the same phenomenon, just out of college you intern at some fancy facility, then you get a job at an academy or with a pro team. You stay there for two or three years you luck out and the team wins a championship (Even though you had nothing to do with it). Now you are 27 years old with one experience and you know it all, you are now an expert! If you really want to solidify your status as an expert you start a certification program with multiple levels of questionable content (Different flavors of sanke oil) based on your one experience. In addition to this you have what I call the “Hitch Your Wagon to a Star Syndrome.” You find an athlete preferably someone of high profile who is hurt, hook him up to a piece of equipment get a popular magazine to write about your miraculous work and viola you have an expert on training and rehab. Not long ago when consulting with a company they had a guy who was their training expert.” When I asked about his credentials they told me point blank he was their expert because he had a good TV presence. Great credentials! He gets up there and spouts bullshit and everyone hangs on every word and blindly follows- do it man! Drink the Kool-Aid. No one is willing to hold these peoples feet to the fire and hold them accountable. Iam, I am tired of this because it hurting all of in this field. What have they really done, what is their body of work? What are their failures and mistakes? Have they paid their dues? What are their credentials, no I don’t mean multiple letters from questionable certifications, I mean real academic and work experience credentials.Are they selling something? Those are fair questions. If we want to be a profession then we must be professional and hold ourselves to a higher standard. We can’t tolerate snake oil salesmen. We can’t let marketing and hype triumph over sound pedagogy, training methodology and professionalism. Stop and think, who are you learning from? What are you learning? Do they preach one way or is their system eclectic and adaptable? I am very concerned about the direction of this field because of the plethora of instant experts and the explosion of marketing based on pseudo science and misinformation. We all need to raise our standards and our level of expectation if we want to progress.

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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