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‘Glory Lasts a Moment, Responsibility Lasts Forever’

Posted November. 27, 2009 08:31,   


“I assume full responsibility,” said Park Jong-cheon after resigning as coach of the Korean Basketball League’s Incheon ET Land Elephants Nov. 11.

Park quit after his team lost 10 straight games, but also suffered damage to his health. He lost more than 10 kilograms and smoked eight packs of cigarettes a day.

In the end, he was hospitalized for headaches and enteritis, and stepped down after 12 games this season.

In English soccer, Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger is jokingly called “professor” because of his intellectual and calm image. He, however, is also not free from stress either.

In a recent interview, he said, “It is impossible not to be angry as a soccer coach. I get stressed every day. When I have a headache, I just leave for a place with no soccer.”

The coach plays the most crucial role on a team. The entire squad depends on his or her single word. The coach grabs the spotlight when the team wins, but the responsibility is as big as authority.

Such a burden leads to stress, an occupational hazard that plagues coaches in every game.

Kang Dong-hee, the new coach of the pro basketball team Wonju Dongbu Promy, shakes his head in saying, “You don’t know the stress until you do it. When you lose a close game, the game lingers in your head 24/7.”

National soccer coach Huh Jung-moo, who was named Coach of the Year by the Asia Football Confederation Tuesday, is also no stranger to heavy stress. He complained of insomnia and stomach ulcers after being criticized for being too defensive in his approach.

The manager of a professional baseball team described his stress this way: “I sometimes wake up suddenly while sleeping and blame myself for not replacing a pitcher. Every time I do this, I feel like I lose one year from my life.”

Failing health due to stress is a fact of life for many coaches. Excessive pressure had a bad influence on baseball managers who have since died, including Seo Young-moo (Samsung Lions), Yim Shin-geun (Taepyungyang Dolphins), and Kim Dong-yeop (Haitai Tigers).

When are coaches stressed out the most? They say they get most stressed over an improperly run play rather than over the result of a game.

Yim Oh-gyeong, coach of the handball team of the Seoul Metropolitan Government, said, “When players don’t play like they do in practice despite undergoing hard training, I even hear voices in my head like ‘Ms. Yim, are you an idiot?’”

When a team is on a losing streak or comes up short in close games, this means big stress for the coach. Park Hang-seo, coach of the pro soccer team Chunnam Dragons, said, “When my team is on a losing streak, I feel like my blood is flowing backwards.”

Kim Ho-cheol, coach of the pro volleyball team Hyundai Capital, said he wants to flip over the court when his team loses a close one due to an idiotic mistake.

Injury to players is another source of stress for a coach.

Stress is not always bad, however. Kim Kyung-moon, who manages the pro baseball team Doosan Bears, said, “A moderate level of stress helps maintain a sense of tension.”

Kim Jeong-ho, a psychology professor at Duksung Women’s University in Seoul, said, “If meditation and hobbies can relieve one’s body and mind to a certain degree, stress can become medicine rather than poison.”