Reflections……………………………………………………Behavior Management

                                                                                      Gary Coker

It was a cool Friday night in this rural Georgia town, and the local high school basketball team was playing their cross-county rival in a hotly contested game.  The first game between these rivals had been won by a single point by the rival team.  The game was being played before a sold-out crowd, everyone breathing and screaming and pushing the hometown “redskins.” With 1:25 left in the fourth quarter and the score tied I committed my fifth foul and had to leave the game. My opponent made both foul shots.

Over twenty fouls are committed in an average high school basketball game.  Fouls that break the rules of the game are called ‘personal’ fouls.  Each player is awarded five personal fouls.  Once in a while, referees deem a foul sufficiently violent or dangerous to be called ‘flagrant’. 

Once a personal foul is called, the referee points at the player committing the foul calling out his number.  The player acknowledges the foul by holding his hand up.  The referee looks at the scorer’s table and gives the player’s number.  The announcer announces the player and the foul. The opposition team gets a free foul shot.   Five fouls disqualify the player from any further play in that game.

Once in a while, referees deem a foul sufficiently violent or dangerous to be called ‘flagrant’.  A flagrant foul receives a severe reprimand from the referee with the opposing team getting two foul shots and possession of the ball. A second flagrant foul disqualifies the player from any further play.

This process is a classic example of behavior management.  The player, child or person, receives immediate feedback as to the ‘foul’ with a clear identification of what the foul involved. A warning is given that future fouls will result in some form of discipline or eventual removal from the game, i.e., time out, loss of privileges, etc.  Level two, a flagrant foul, is very serious in nature and usually involves breaking rules that have been predetermined as ‘not acceptable”. Fouls, i.e., behavior, in this area receive an immediate reprimand with clear understanding the behavior is unacceptable by removing the person (child) from the immediate activity.  As with the basketball player who understands what constitutes a foul, the child or adult has been made aware of the behavior and consequences in advance through the normal instructional process associated with the game or in life.

The game referenced in the opening paragraph was lost by a close margin of two points.   The following day, Saturday, I left my job at the local grocery store, Fred Hale’s, and walked across the street to the local drug store where I was greeted by Kent Studdard. “Hey, Coker, how about a cherry coke….my treat”.  After getting the coke and having a good discussion with Kent, I sat at a small table at the front of the drug store where Roy Malcom, Mayor and Pharmacist, came and sat with me and offered  words of encouragement .

We lost the basketball game but won in the game of life.


Retired in 2008 after 40+ years in education/psychology as researcher, teacher, administrator and college professor.
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2 Responses to

  1. srbottch says:

    And the rules regarding penalties have worked quite well for years and years because they are understood by everyone in the game. More importantly, they are enforced. Nice post, Coker!

  2. Steven, thanks for your positive comments.
    I have been away from writing and just started back with some of my thoughts. While away WordPress made some changes in the posting and manuscript writing that I have not quite mastered
    I could use a tutorial. Maybe you can assist. Gary

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