Ask and ye shall receive! About a month ago we got an email from one of our sports moms, wanting to know what she should do about a coach that wasn’t giving equal playing time to everyone on her son’s soccer team, even though the league had clear rules are minimum playing times for each and every youth athlete. What can a sports parent do when a coach is “stacking the deck,” so to speak, so their team will win? Well we asked our sports parents, coaches and administrators what they would do in a situation like the one our sports mom was facing and the response was unbelievable!
Now this is obviously a sensitive subject, so some of the responses got a little heated on both ends of the argument. Here are some of the responses we got:
FROM THE ADMINISTRATORS
– I realize some coaches are about winning however some of our leagues have successfully taken to the use of rotation sheets. Basically if used properly it provides kids equal playing time and moves them to all positions.
– League must recognize that they are in fierce competition with other sports and other youth activities for membership. When a league allows an environment where kids have a bad experience, limited playing time and/or not playing a variety of positions they will take their participation and registration fees elsewhere. I don’t mean to look past what is most important in this discussion, but in some cases making the economic argument might wake up some in the league who otherwise might look past this poor approach to coaching.
FROM THE COACHES
– I was coaching a 5th grade girls little league softball team, I rotated the positions and batting order every game for 5 games and guess what-we went 0-5, and the parents complained and the kids complained that they wanted to win, so could we be more competitive with the lineup and fielding considerations. I guess I could have ignored them, but my feeling of sportsmanship ultimately gave in to competition, and we started winning our share of games.
– Out of respect if i dont get a call and you miss almost every practice without tellimg me, other children who are there to learn will get more playing time from me. Sad I have to punish the kid because of stupid parents but these are some hard facts and it is a reality.
– People need to understand that we are not here to baby sit your kids, if you sign your kids up to play, we expect them to come prepared for practice or games. So it’s a two way street, if you want your kids to play, you need to help out the coach and commit to helping them out both the coaches and kids. Be there on time, offer the coach some help, I mean, it’s not bribing the coach it’s showing that you are committed to the team and not just pawning the kid off on them for you to go do something else.
– Having coached many seasons, of many sports, the coach should still be able to use playing time as a disciplinary tool, and if your child is not behaving or not participating to his/her capability, the coach should be able to limit his/her playing time.
– As a coach, if you only practices at the mandatory practice and your skills are lacking, don’t expect playing time. It is unfair to the kids who are willing to play and give it all. Its no fun for the team to lose because little Jonny or Suzy thinks it is unfair. Go join the YMCA if you want that. Plain and simple. If you don’t like it be a coach or go elsewhere. it is not fair for the excellent quarterback, or pitcher or point guard if they are pulled from the game just so your kid can have playing time.
FROM THE PARENTS
– If you think that your child is being mistreated go elsewhere. Be sure that the new coach is not a parent OR be sure that you are good friends with that parent coach. I’m not being sarcastic. It’s all very political at these young ages.
– I am facing a similar problem this year in tackle football. The children are 4th and 5th graders. The way I handled it and am handling it is to talk to the coach, talk to the coach, and talk to the coach again. Then I told him I would be going to the league directors. No secret or anonymous non sense. After I went to the league director the attitude changed quite a bit.
– Your best bet is to get on the Board yourself and fight for spot checks on games so all teams can be monitored for fair play.
– My advice: look for another team and do your research. The “best” team for your child is not necessarily the unbeaten team.
– If it is important to you, make sure there are equal playing time rules at your child’s level. If there are no equal playing time rules, don’t expect Johnny to play the same amt of time as Charlie.
Interested in hearing what other parents, coaches and administrators had to say? Check out part one of this discussion.