The Head Coach’s Son & Favoritism

Ok, so this may not be the most popular article for parents, but someone needs to put the theory out there, and yes I say theory, about the Head Coach’s son and children.  I am a Head Coach, and both my son’s play Quarterback for their youth football teams.  I was an offensive guard at their ages, so I am slightly jealous.  Bear @ QBBut anyway, I am Head Coach for my oldest son’s team (5th grade) and am a parent spectator for my youngest (2nd grade) son’s team.  My theory is that the children of head coaches have a biological and environmental advantage over the other players on the team.  So let me explain…

For the last two years, as a Head Coach, I have struggled with my oldest son playing starting quarterback on my tackle football team.  When Berndt, “Bear”,  was younger, on his flag teams, he was the back-up quarterback and starting center for our spread offense.  Bear played Center in flag, because we had a QB prodigy on our flag team.  Two years ago, when I was given the opportunity to coach Bear’s tackle team, I assigned the position responsibilities to my Offensive Coordinator.  Our first year, we went through try outs and the Offensive Coordinator chose my son as the starting QB.  I was not happy with this decision because of the parent political issues this was going to cause.

And for two years, Bear playing QB always comes up as favoritism.  But is it really?  My Offensive Coordinator assigns the backfield positions, not me.  I work with the offensive line.  In our first year, I actually argued against my oldest son playing quarterback, because I thought he wasn’t assertive & competitive enough as a leader.  I am now a believer that Bear is a “real” QB, but only until the last few games of least season.  It’s taken me four years to believe; 2 flag & 2 tackle. Zane Flag

Now, my youngest son, Zane, was the starting QB on his flag team, even after missing two weeks with a broken collarbone.  Zane is much more like me as a leader and a natural athlete.  He’s fun to watch.  Is it surprising to me that another coaching staff has chosen my son as a quarterback?  Yes, but that’s only because I never played QB.  How can this be?  Two son’s starting skill players? 

Since I have been struggling with my own internal favoritism issues, I postulated this theory.  Head Coach’s sons have an advantage over other pee wee football players, because their biological father and dad is the Head Coach.  It’s a biological and environmental advantage.

The children of Head Coaches are exposed to the sport at a very early age.  My boys had footballs in their cribs, and we watch NFL football games together as a familiy.  We live and breathe football in the Parker home. I know a baseball head coach that is the same way about baseball.   I have been practicing football with my boys since they were 3.  They watch me draw up plays, read football books, watch football instructional DVDs and we practice football skills at least once or twice a week during the off-season.  So is it favoritism that Head Coaches’ children are starters in key positions on youth sports team.  I would say no.  OK, so there are a few that show favoritism, but coaches’ children are predisposed, biologically and environmentally, to have an advantage over the other players. 

Let me know what you think about my theory.  Thanks and have a good season.

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Filed under Youth Coaching

67 responses to “The Head Coach’s Son & Favoritism

  1. barry oppy

    thanks for the message im in the same boat ive ben coaching for 3 years and my son has been the starting qb for all of them i just started head coaching this year ive never thought of it likie that but ill forward this to any parent who has a problem with my son as qb thanks again

    • jeff vaughan

      this is a real problem my sons hockey coaches are brutal.this is house league and play there kids extra time . and then had the nerve to sit all the kids down and tell them that there own 2 kids were picked as captains due to skill level and communication there 9 and 10.this is clearly not the case and is favourtism….

    • Brian

      I keep reading about how the coaches kids play the key positions and are the starters because they are the better player. Well I have a 5th grader and a 7th grader playing youth football and favoritism is a big problem mostly on the 5th grade team. I believe that at the 5th grade level it is about learning the game and how to play it but how can the kids learn when they are not being coached what to do. My sons 5th grade team has 5 coaches and they have a total of 7 kids on the team. So you tell me if this is favoritism or not when the coaches kids play on average over 30 to 40 plays per game and most other kids play on average 10 plays per game. I kept track of 6 kids of course my son was one of them and when those 6 kids did not play one down in the first half of the game and the coaches kids played 27, 23, 22, 27, 25, 27 plays. Also one of the coaches kids is a 4th grader who will be playing on the 5th grade team again next year played more then most of the 5th graders. The coaches keep telling the kids they need to work hard in practice and pay attention but how can you expect 10 year old kids to work hard in practice if they never see playing time.

      • Anonymous

        Sad that I teach my sons, that hard work will get you what you want. Only for some coach to come through and teach them, thats not true. Obviously not all coaches are like this… But more are than not. All the experience that is stolen adds up and children cannot get it back. If you see the players moving in and out of your community sports. It is not the sport thats broken , its even kids smell bullshit like us.

  2. Jerry Francis

    The situation you describe cannot be described as favoritism because there was an open competition for the position judged by someone other than you.

    My son is on a football team. Last year (under another coach) he competed and won the position of running back where he ran that position on every down of every game last year. This year (under a new coach that happens to be the director of the youth football league) the new head coach appoints his son fullback and another new coach’s son as the halfback – all without competition and decided prior to even the first practice. This not only affected my son, but three other players who rotated the fullback position last year.

    No, your situation is not a case of favoritism, but favoritism does exist in youth sports. It will be a relief to enter high school sports where the coaches do not have a vested interest in any player but only placing the right players in the right position!

    • Willie

      You’re kidding yourself if you think favoritism isn’t just as strong in school sports.

      Best way I’ve found to combat is to have my kid participate in X-Country and Track.. stop watches do NOT play favorites. Fastest kid wins.

  3. Jason

    I think you’re right actually. My son is in his first year of tackle football in 4th grade this year, and I’m the assistant coach/offensive coordinator. While we have another player practicing at QB who shows potential, there is no question that my son has much more knowledge and skill at the position, having mastered the fundamentals of footwork, taking the snap, etc….Most kids can barely even accomplish a basic 5 step drop. Thankfully I didn’t have to make the decision myself to put him as the starting QB though, it was evident to all the other coaches as well.

  4. Coach J

    Coach, this clearly sounds like your sons are the most skilled at the position and not favortism. I agree with jerry francis when he stated that they were awarded the position in an open competition judged by someone else. I wish all coaches would do that! I have 2 sons in tackle football and I have coached for 6 years. I have seen way too many teams not playing to their potential because the head coach places their child at QB or HB that do not have the skills or knowledge to play the position. I would argue however, that it is not any biological or environment disposition that they are given skill positions. More often than not, a head coaches child is given more opportunities to learn the positions. This it what gives them the advantage. Even if it is not the head coach, an assistant coach will often show favortism to another coaches child especially the head coach. Let’s face it fellas we spend a lot of time with one another. When given reps at a skill position they develop a knowledge base to build on that other kids do not get. Even if they do not do well, a coach will show more attention an patience to another coach’s child. If your children really spend that much time studying the game then they deserve to play QB.

  5. Ha Get this one. I’m in my second year of coaching and now I am the head coach of my own team. Not only is my son the starting quaterback my other son is the starting fullback and my nephew is the starting rb. When I brought this up to my other sis when she asked about our team she asked, “Is the parents mad about this.” I stated no and then realized what she said. Some coaches must really do put their kids at qb or at roles to be the star wether there kid has the ability or not. hint: Simpsons episode when Homer makes Bart the starting QB and tryies to make him a star when he actually sucks. BUt Coaches that know what they’re doing and how to go about it does whats best for the team and sometimes it’s having their kid in that spot. We had open practice and drills to see who does what and who goes where. Me being the Head Coach and having my two sons on the team (this is their 2nd year playing pee wee tackle football) they already had a heads up on stuff and I already knew where they were going…… To the bench!!!! My oldest son which is the QB was starting Right guard teh year before and 3rd string DT. He started to fall off a little so the Head coach benched him about halfway thru last season. My other son only seen special teams play.( Not all special teams, just kickoff) I was the defense coach. I pretty much could’ve forced my kid into starting spots escpecially me being the defense coach but I knew their abilities. Which brings me back to now when I said they would probablly be coming off the bench. My oldest son which is our QB I didn’t ever think that was goin to happen and if someone told me that when I was getting my team together I would’ve laughed at them. But when practices came both of my sons knew their holes plays and alot more about football then the rest. My nephew practiced last year and then quit b4 season started so he knew some football. I was sure he was going to be our RB but when my sons picked things up I had no choice. I was alwasy skeptical of my oldest at QB you could’nt pay me to start him or have him there, but he has done things that I could’nt believe or ever think he could. He makes his own plays and adds on to things that we do and I am amazed!! My other son I put at FB was to protect our RB and Qb since he picked up his holes and things. Its amazing My oldest son being the head coaches son wasn’t suppose to be this major of a factor for the team but ended up to be a savior and keeping us awya from being a disaster. What’s carzy now is their little sis might be playing next year!!!

  6. Michael

    Hi there.

    Favoritism definitely is a major sore spot in my kids’ school. Our teams, like basketball and volleyball, have an”A” teams and a “B”.

    The girls who are friends with the principal’s daughter routinely get picked for the “A” team although a handful of them couldn’t make a basket or do a bump if their lives depended on it. My daughter has played both volleyball and basketball (superb shooter) on outside teams and has consistently been a star in both sports but routinely gets bumped to the “B” team.

    The school’s gym teacher claims these spots are open competition, but year-over-year it’s the same kids for the same teams.

    What truly upsets me is how blatant these elections are, but only a few parents say anything.

  7. Brad

    Does the term quid pro quo mean anything to you?

    You would not be writing about this if you really knew down deep it was not an issue.

  8. Cathy

    Favoritism can be rampant in any sport. My son lays baseball and has for 8 years now. This year he worked his way to starting pitcher for his team that went 11-6. Another coach sought him out to play on the “All Star” team. Then benched my son for 19 of 21 innings in the state tournament. Made comments that my son was really only average. Of course the coaches son played 21 of 21 innings.
    Favoritism hand in hand with emotional abuse!

  9. Tony

    Slightly different situation, but thought I’d share:

    I was allstate in HS, and played in college, but now have two beautiful girls that are cheerleaders. Got involved in coaching cause “I was there anyway and the coaches asked for assistants”, and now have the fever. I love it. Love teaching the game that I loved playing to kids who are respectful and willing to learn every day (almost). And the organization I’m involved with is outstanding from A, B and C levels, even the cheerleaders. Parents have their usual complaints, but most are fairly ordinary requests. And no prejudice cause no sons.

    Guys, coach like you love football. And if your son is the best use him. If not, accept it and do what’s best for the kids/team that are there. And most of all, enjoy it; there’s nothing like it. Once it’s in your blood, it’ll always be. And the best thing you can do is pass the passion on to the next generation(s).


  10. mike

    Give me a break! Why is the coaches son always uniquely qualified to be QB, never uniquely qualified to be defensive end or tackle. You’re kidding yourself. The best high school QB I ever saw had to wait until 2 years until the coaches son graduated before he could get off the bench and play. I wouldn’t be so obvious if even 1% of coaches sons weren’t the quarterback!!!

  11. Jim

    Here’s a question for you…what if the coach’s son is not qualified to be the QB, but gets to play anyway, with no other children on the team getting a chance to practice? Our coach’s son gives the bare minimum in practices and games when he’s not the “star,” and threw a fit when he was told he had to play anything other than quarterback. And yet he continues to start in the position. The head coach already been approached by his assistant coaches but blows them off and continues to play his own child, who not only is the biggest whiner, but an average player at best. This is clearly not for the good of the team or the other boys, who need and want to learn how to play other positions. Any comments or suggestions as to how to deal with this situation?

    • This is a tough situation. Since the assistant coaches are aware of the situatution and are supportive of removing the coach’s son, I would work with them and the team mom / manager and appraoch the league’s age group coordinator or commissioner about the situation. I would let the league sort this out. A coach last season in our league did this same thing and he is no longer a head coach.

      If the league does not sort this out, find a new team or league.

  12. Gdav

    Nepostim is alive and well in youth football. My 11 year old recently joined an established team. The whole “everyone will earn their position”, give me 100% to keeep your position” was a continual montra.
    After tryouts my son was praised and said to be one of the 2 fastest on the team. And he is one of the hardest hitters. Well what do you know he ends up at the receiver position where the quarterback, “coaches son might heave a lamb duck prayer twice a game and hope that its within 10 yards of my son.
    The 2 other coaches sons have taken running back positions as well. My son continues to see less playing time. I’ve been told they are resting him for the big plays. Ha. Last year we played in a league where my son never left the field.
    Bottom line I was sold a bill of goods by the coaching staff who needed my money for entry fees. The team consists of 3 players and 17 decoys and blocking dummies. Just my thought about nepotism.

  13. Paul Quinones

    Nepotism is alive and well everywhere! It all depends on the coach. Some coaches truly will put the best player in the right position. Is there an evironmental advantage for coaches sons, heck yeah there is. If they want it. Show me a super physical football player under the age of 11 and I will show you an average smart football player that will beat that kid 8 out of 10 times. This is where coaches kids have the advantage learning the game of football. Most of us only get 2-3 practices days a week with all other kids but I have my son everyday, is this to his advantage, yep. But I will bench my son in a heart beat if he isn’t the best at that position.

    • Hey Coach, Thanks for you post. I agree, that Nepotism is alive and well and that is sad, but good coaches will bench their sons or others favorites if they can’t play a position or there is a more talented player. Thanks again, Coach Parker and Go Kanes!

  14. It is amazingly unfortunate that skilled, polished and enthusiastic young athletes are being ignored since the coaches are more in tune with their own childrens beliefs, ie. your own beliefs. We have taken part in Pop Warner for 2 years and the disgust has grown deeper daily. Private practices, arranged positions, stacking teams and never realizing the oversight of players and humiliation that is offered.

    I totally agree, good coaches bench their sons if needed. In our arena, their is a Minimum Play Rule…needless to say…”if your dad is a coach, you have a position on both sides of the ball”. The rest of our broken hearts are to make the quota for the roster.

    So if you are that coach that believes your son is the greatest…so do the rest of the parents. Keep patting yourself on the back for your contributions to the team, but know when to prioritize the abilities and never leave a child behind.

  15. Maury M

    You are correct. I am a former high school and college qb, and have put my 7 year old at the helm. Parents dont mind because he clearly gets it and takes it to the house when we need it. However, since we are still in flag, and our league calls for it, I give all the boys a shot at qb. The difference in play is obvious. My son loves the game and will watch hours of football with me on the weekends of his own choice. I think kids that enjoy watching sports have an advantage because their sports IQ becomes engaged. The “son of a coach” theory is also correct. They just get it and are usually driven by competition and a hunger to win. I don’t see a problem with it unless you are one of the fathers whose son is clearly not the best choice to start, and some other kid, and the team suffers for it.

  16. Gritz

    I don’t understand your premise. It is you who is assigning a greater value to the quarterback position than anyone else. What id your son merely hands off to a stud rb the entire year? Is his position any more valuable than that of the guard or tackle? You sure seem to think so. What if the head coach is a former defensive tackle..he might play his son there, while not qualified, and no one would ever know or care.

    • To be very honest, the QB position is very important in football. Its not just me that thinks so. You are wrong in your premise that no would care if someone played tackle though not qualified. When the QB and RBs are tackled in the backfield, people will notice.

      I am a former tackle and my son played tackle this year for the team, because he was the biggest player on his new football team in Keller. I wanted him to play another position besides QB this year. He loved it.

      thanks for your post,
      Coach Parker
      Keller, Texas

  17. Coach O

    I know that I am getting into this conversation late, but I will have to agree with Gritz. My youngest is 9 now and has been a qb since age 6 (all tackle football). I was not the one who put him at that position. After his 5 y/o season, the then head coach asked me to work with him over the summer and that he wanted to put him at qb the following season. Being a decent (1st team all conference) qb myself in h.s., I bucked his thoughts. I didn’t see in my son what he saw. For me it wasn’t his natural ability, but I wasn’t sure he was going to live up to the pressure of the position. I reluctantly worked with him, and he just took to it naturally. In all honesty, he’s been lights out ever since. The kid amazes even me most of the time.
    Well I’m offered a head coaching spot for his age group this past season at a different organization. Needless to say that some of the parents of the kids already there weren’t happy with the way things shook out. I had open try-outs at EVERY skill position. The kid that used to play qb ended up 3rd string, but the coaches and I tried to accomadate him and his parents by starting him at left WR/TE. He did want to play it and neither did his parents want him there. It became a big thing on our team. I tried to ignore it at first, but 3 games into the season it had to be resolved in a parent meeting. Once I explained to all of the parents that they didn’t see my son run the ball not one time so far that season, things finally calmed down. I did not play my boy at qb to shine as a star. He was there because he knew my offense and how I wanted it ran. He was overly effecient and at 8 years old could put the ball 32 yards down the field almost on a dime 7 out of 10 times. We ended up playing a total of 17 games this past season and my son only ran the ball 4 times. He wasn’t happy about that, but once I explained to him what we were trying to accomplish, he was fine. He is really close to becoming a complete qb given his age, but he’ll have plenty of opportunity to run the ball as he gets older. I don’t have a problem limiting his carries now to get other kids going and make the team more successful as a whole. So yes, I’m a head coach who’s son plays quarterback, but he is far from the focal point of his current team and won’t be as long as I’m coaching him.

  18. Tex

    On my son’s team the Coach’s son played QB. To many of us on the sidelines during practice we saw other players that would make better QB’s. I just felt bad for the kids who did not get the opportunity to try the QB position. I believe that to much is being put into winning and not teaching the game. At this age the kids should get to play a variety of positions to learn the fundementals of the game. I beleive that will prepare them for the future when they will truly have to compete to make the team in Jr and High School.

  19. WorkingMom

    I agree with your theory to a certain point, but would like to point out to ALL youth coaches that in the early years of any sport, most leagues are considered “developmental”. It is your role as a coach to teach this sport and the skill set needed to play each position to each and EVERY player. At the older ages, playing the strongest is more understandable, but from a parent (and board member’s) perspective, hearing horror stories about the coach’s kid being late to or missing practices while still getting the majority of playing time while others warm the bench is frustrating and disheartening. It’s even worse when the coaches at the next level bitch that the players they’re getting don’t know what they’re doing.

    If you coach, it needs to be for ALL the kids on your team, not just a chosen few. It should also be understood, after hearing today from a coach that “generally the strongest 11 are played at defense” in youth football means that the other 14 kids on the team receive little to no training on defense, that you are ensuring the death of the league after you’ve moved on. Parents talk. Most leagues need them to volunteer for the Snack Shack, donate things, fundraise, etc. You’re shooting yourselves in the foot while guaranteeing you only have 11 players who can play defense in the future.

    • Thanks for your post. Please remember that most youth football coaches are volunteers and unpaid. We spend at least 20 hours a week and some, like me, close to 40 hours a week during the football season. We are also human and have many imperfections and must coach 25 players on the team and their parents. So we make mistakes, as I am sure everyone does.

      I must disagree, it is not the coach’s responsibility to coach each position to each individual player. We should teach the general concepts of each position to the players but we do not have the time in practice to teach each player each position in detail to play that position in the game. It is also the player’s responsibility to learn the game outside of the time spent in practice. The Internet is filled with great resources for players to learn football.

      As Coaches we want to play every player on the team, but some players are not ready to be starters or play in the game more than the minimum plays required. Many times we are concerned for the player’s safety and their confidence as a player.

      We also must balance winning with play time. Even though parents want everyone to play, the boo birds hover over the coaches when the team loses almost every game because we are playing everyone. Been there done that one. Instead of having a few parents mad at the coaches, then you have about 80% of the parents very upset about losing.

      Like life, coaching is balance.

      • WorkingMom

        Steve264, wish you coached here. As a fellow coach and board member for three different youth leagues, I understand volunteer coaches aren’t paid and well aware of the hours put in. It’s also well understood there’s a time and place for the stronger players to be played; that’s never been questioned. But when your coaches have no stated minimum play requirements and they chose to ignore the governing body’s rules that at these levels players are to receive equitable playing time, what does a parent do? What does a board do? This isn’t an issue with safety or concern for the kids. This is an issue where there’s blatant favoritism and it’s killing our league. They’re not losing almost every game because everyone plays – they’re losing almost every game because only half the team plays; they haven’t had a chance to see if they’d win if the other kids took the field. And now the parents, who we count on to volunteer in other ways besides coaching (donating goods and time for the snack bar, buying fundraisers, etc.) are ticked, and the volunteers are down. Our drop-out rate is 47%, up from 31% the year before. Our older level coaches are pissed because they’re getting fewer kids with less skills because at some point, the coaches’ kids are losing interest themselves and dropping out. And our high school coaches are experiencing the worst losing streak of the past 30 years.

        Yes, everyone is human, but while there’s some pieces of work out there for parents, so are there for coaches. Other youth sports leagues have begun to address the lack of training volunteer coaches have, because guess what? Having played in high school doesn’t make you a good coach. Nor does being the one willing to volunteer. Again, this is the U6/8 soccer, the youngest levels of hockey and baseball, the D and JVC team football coaches – the developmental leagues where the governing bodies’ stated mission is to teach the fundamentals of the game. The best thing I ever heard a coach at the lower levels say was “my goal is to have all your kids want to play this sport again next season”. Give your players a positive coaching experience – telling them “you suck” (yes, a statement heard from one of the coaches) is NOT acceptable. Period.

        I also agree it’s not the coach’s responsibility to teach each position to each individual player – perhaps I stated my sentiment the wrong way. If you want to coach, you agree to the governing body’s bylaws. If the rule is “equal playing time for Team X”, and you’re coaching Team X, follow the rules or don’t coach. If the league says “Coaches at Y level are to teach the fundamentals”, then teach the fundamentals, even if it’s only recommending some of those websites you mentioned.

        And while your statement about learning the game outside of practice is totally valid, I would ask you – what do you do when a player has done that, but is never given the chance to show he can play the position? These coaches began the first practice having already assigned kids to roles without evaluating new players – they’d never seen some of these kids play (new to the city/first year playing). Can you guess which kids are in those roles?

        Coaching IS a balance. Just like 1% of the parents will be thorns in your side, 1% of the coaches will be the type that kids remember as “the Coach from Hell”. Players know who’s in it only for their kid and who’s in it to support all their players. And if you are in a league with a high drop-out rate (47% from last year, up from 31% the year before), it may be time to look into why kids, parents, volunteers and sponsors are walking away from you.

      • Anonymous

        Dont kid yourself.

  20. Justme

    After reading the article and many post, I have to ask. What about the coaches who start their kids (or have them go both ways) when the kids is not that good (and with one coach, his son didnt want to play)?

    My son coach had his son as starting outside LB and the kid was afraid to hit/tackle. Most of the tackles he made was because he could not get out of the way in time, or he jumped in as the ball carrier was on his way down.

    When parents in the stands see this and see other kids who are just learning and/or want to be on the field forced to sit a majority of the game, it tends to stir the anger.

    Coaches need to be objective when evaluating all player, including their own kids. We had 30+ on our team (2nd & 3rd graders) and as hard as it is to ensure that all kids get decent time on the field, in this case, it could have been easier had the coaches kids shared time and not played both ways.

    • Unfortunately some coaches are not objective about evaluating their children and or they have decided that their children will play since they are volunteering all this time to coach. Coaches also feel comfortable with their children in certain positions because they trust them.

      Like anything, there are coaches that play favorites and hurt the team. This should not occur but does. At some point, his assistant coaches or team mom must have an honest discussion with the head coach.

      Based on your post, One of the main issues with your team was the size. 30+ players on a team is very large. I like 18-22 players on my football teams, after that it is tough to substitute players. So just by the size of the team will cause play time issues and then its down hill from there.

  21. sdwyer41

    One problem we ran into last season was size. Our team was K-2nd grade team. We had 22 kids on the team, of those 22 4 were stripers, and 2 others would “qualify” as line man. So we have 22 kids, 22 positions to fill (11 off. and 11 def) of those 22 positions, 10 (5 ol and 5 dl) were filled by 6 kids. Now we have 10 positions and 16 kids left over. Does not sound too bad until you figure of those 16 kids 9 were in kindergarten and averaged about 35-40 lbs, and some of them would cry everytime they gave or received a hit. One 1st grader would play for a couple of min. then ask to come out. So now we are down to 15 kids, 9 of which were in kindergarten and tiny. Figgure a team out of that mess, and get everyone playing time. Glad I wasn’t the head coach. The coach asked each kid who was elligable if they wanted to run the ball, many said no, so they were reduced to defence only, as they were too small for the line and did not want the ball. Now, since they would not play off., that reduced their available time by half, since the ones willing to play off. wanted time on def as well, the reduced the def only kids to even less time. We had one of the smallest kids on the team, (about 45 lbs) by the end of the season was either carying the ball, starting OLB or blocking full back, because he was fearless, and loved to hit. But some of the younger ones, were not only small and slow, they were afraid. By the end of the season one had toughened up to where he would only cry if he took a fairly hard hit. (at start he cried on every hit) We had parents complain when their kid did not run the ball even though their kid said he did not wont to cary the ball. Though our coach played his son at QB, and he was not the best QB on the team in my opp. he also played others at that position, though maybe not as much. Looking forward to next years 3rd 4th grade team. Should be closer size matchups anyway. Sorry if I rambled too much, but maybe that will give you an idea of what a coach has to deal with to get playing time for all, and set his depth chart.

  22. Dave Burns

    I too experienced being the Head Coach of a team whos son was the starting quarterback and I do agree that there are advantages to having your quarterback live under the same roof to discuss situations, watch film, etc.
    I always belived that in any position you start the best player for the job regardless!

  23. Rick

    I palyed and my 2 sons have both played. My kids never started but wow when we went into school ball both my sons made middle linbacker A team. and have held it into high school. all the coaches sons started both ways most of the time and they did not make the A team with my sons. daddy ball will always be daddy ball and the more involved you are you more your kids play.

    • Thanks for your comment. Every situation is different and coaches see different things in different players. Plus each year players mature and change. I’ve seen minimum play players one year progress to starting positions this next season and starters become min play players.

      Since I wrote this this article several years ago, I do see more daddy coaches and favoritism, especially since I look for it now based on the popularity of this article. All coaches should play their best players. When my son’s are on my teams I do not coach their positions. I also enjoy coaching teams when I do not have a son on the team. It is so much easier dealing with parents when your son is not on the team.

      I am an advocate of leagues not allowing coach’s children on their teams. But many leagues would not have enough coaches to coach. So, many of us will see coaches children play more because that’s the price of volunteer coaches.. Or you could pay $20k a year for a professional coach to coach your child’s team. This is what a friend of mine is paying for an soccer coach salary for a select team.

      Thanks again
      Coach Parker

  24. donottell

    We are on ur second practice and they have already assigned 7 out of about thirty kids to the qb rb positions. How do they know who can do what after only one practice game? Three out of the seven are sons of the coaches. Should I be concerned….does it sound like favortism?

    • It is not uncommon for the coaches to assign a first group of QBs and RBs after the first one or two practices, especially if they already know many of the players prior to the first practice. When you assign players to these positions, they are looking for the fastest kids with the most coordination and football skills. It is really easy to find who these players in the first one or two practices by timing 20 yard and 40 yard sprints. Of course you adjust these skill players as practices progresses and you may see players that you missed earlier.

      Also, you can assign lineman pretty quickly based on weight and league weight rules. In some leagues, players over a certain weight cannot carry the ball or play behind the Line of Scrimmage. Sometimes, a player might make a great RB but because of his size and ability to block and pull, you want him at guard, so a smaller RB with almost the same RB skills will run the ball behind better blocking.

      Plus, different coaches want and see different things from players. What I might think is my perfect QB another coach may think he is a TE. This could be because of different offensive formations and schemes. It is very subjective about picking and assigning players plus its hard evaluating youth football players. And coaches want to pick the skill positions early so the players can start learning and repping plays. You must rep rep rep.

      If the 7 that the coaches picked are the fastest kids on the team, I would not worry so much unless those 7 fumble all the time or cant remember the plays.

      Thanks again
      Coach Parker

  25. Evan

    My 7 year-old son is in his 1st year in playing pee wee football (6/7/8 year olds). I have attended and watched every practice closely and during the 1st week of practice (conditioning week) he was usually finished 1st or 2nd in the 20 and 40 yard dashes, thus he is one of the fastest kids, if not the fastest kid on the team. Once they issued equipment (2nd week) his speed held true. Based on this alone I was certain that he would take repetitions with the RB/QB group, however to my surprise I was stunned when they placed him with the defensive unit. Come to find out 5 of the 6 kids in the RB/QB group are sons’ of the coaches (6 coaches on the team). The next day the head coach sent out an email to all parent assuring us that there are no positions set as of yet and everyone will be alloted the same opportunites at all position. We are in week 3 and yet the same kids are in the same groups. My son has asked me why has he not been allowed to run the ball at practice as of yet, and I honestly don’t know what to tell him. I noticed that in the last few practices he is starting to lose some interest, and when the coach gives him reps on offense they line him up at split end (they never throw the ball). None of the kids in the skill position group are as fast as my son, and the only thing they do have on him is 1-year of experience. I can ONLY attribute this to NEPOTISM. I’m my son’s baseball coach myself, and I was usually the hardest on my son. I always tried to move him around in the batting order just to avoid this issue. I really do not want to confront the coaches, however 3-weeks in none of the skill position players blow me away and they have yet to give other kids opportunities. Head scratcher!!!!!!

    • Evan

      UPDATE: The season is finally over. The team finished 1-7, and it wasn’t a surprise based on the lack of talent they had at the skill positions, and lack of leadership by the head coach. Not ONE kid ran the ball this year unless his father was on the coaching staff (6 coaches). There were 23 kids on the team and only about 14 of them played regularly. The other 9 kids only saw time on kickoffs, a few plays or not play at all. 8 kids started both ways. In one game they put a small kid who barely played at RB (another coach’s son of course) who ran the towards the wrong endzone to avoid being hit. By mid-season most of the parents were irate midway about playing time issues and the nepotism at the skill positions .. so much that numerous emails were sent to the head coach about the problem. The coach called a parents meeting basically saying that, ‘he is going to play who HE thinks should play and playing time is not guaranteed ‘. As for my son he was NEVER giver an opportunity to run the ball in practice or a game (again he was the fastest player on the team). Every parent and some coaches knew my son was fastest kid, and they could not beleive that he wasn’t getting reps at RB. My son played TE on offense, however he was just a glorified lineman as they NEVER threw the ball. On defense he was the starting outside LB and usually lead the team in tackles and hits in the backfield in each game. Two of the coaches told me personally that they suggested to the head coach that they make my son a RB, and they were both shot down by the head coach. Going through this season it was pretty evident that the head coach was only concerned with micro-managing his son who started at QB, middle linebacker, kicker and kick returner . The offensive play calling consisted of QB keepers about 70% of the time. His son only scored about 3 TD’s the whole season eventhough he ran the ball the majority of the time. No matter what the score the head coach’s son NEVER came out of a game. His son is a decent player, however he should be when he is getting all the reps in practice and the games. My son acutally played about 95% of the snaps this year. Honestly, I thought he played a little too much. At one point I even asked that he be pulled off of starting offense to give other kids an opportunity to play. But I was told he was one of the best blockers they had. It was a sad display of teaching the fundamentals of the game, by the head coach, all season long and it was apparent to all who watched. Next year I will be looking for another league for my son to play in.

  26. Anonymous

    My son was never exposed to football until I signed him up for football at the age of 6. His Dad played college football and was drafted to the Pros; an injury during camp prevented him from playing. My son never watched football on T.V. and his Dad never forced it on him. He didn’t want to burn him out at an early age and cause him to dislike football. The Coaches picked up on my sons natural “raw” talent immediately. I used him as an example to show the other kids how to correctly do the warm-up exercises. The other parents seeing this insisted that he had played football before and was older than he was. This was not the case, he had never played, never watched it and in fact, he was on of the youngest on the team but very tall for his age. He was very competitive and the fastest player on the team. He played on both sides offense and defense. He scored an average of 3 or 4 touchdowns a game, and made 8 or 9 tackles. Four of the six Coaches wanted to make him MVP but the head coach was against it. The kids would all sit around talking about my son being the best player on the team. My child was and still is a very humble child, even after hearing his name repeatedly announced over the intercom for making touchdowns and tackles, he never was boastful. I’m saying this to say that all the Coaches that said their kids are better kids because they live it and breathe it at home. How can you explain my childs performance since he didn’t live in that type of environment? I believe there are a lot of other talented kids out there that are not given the chance to show what they can do because of all the Daddy coaches! It might hold true for some kids but not for all because we had six coaches with six kids and four wanted to make my child the MVP. The head coach didn’t agree because he didn’t want to disappoint his child that didn’t have a fraction of the talent that my son had. Half of the touchdowns he made were with my childs assistance. My child could run the ball from one field to the other and get tackled right before the touchdown, then the head coach would give the ball to his son to make the touchdown. It didn’t bother me because I said that a lot of these coaches kids are going to be in for a rude awakening when they get in the real world without their Daddies coaching and they realize they are not as good as they thought they were. My son took a year off from football because his Dad insisted that he take a year off. Well he’s back this year and even with a year off, while the other kids have continued to play, they still can’t compare. I don’t care how much playing time their Daddies give them, when you continue to hear your childs name called over the intercom and the parents on the sidelines call out his name, and the opponents parents come up and compliment your childs abilities after the game….that lets you know who the true talent is! Keep your heads up parents! This Daddy coaching won’t last always. Keep your child encouraged and just because they live in the same house as the Coach doesn’t make them better players. I’m a witness!!

    • It sounds like your son is a stud youth football player. I am sure any coach would be extremely happy to have you and your son on their team. It sounds like you are upset that your son did not get the season MVP award. My two son’s have never won the season MVP award and there are better players on my teams that deserve the award more then my two Daddy Coach’s sons.

      You were in a bad situation, please do not hate every youth football coach. We are unpaid volunteers just doing our best with what we have, which is usually not much. Coaching is so much easier when you have supportive parents, especially when your son is getting a ton of playing time and put in opportunities for success.

      I am sure it was a disappointment not to win the MVP, but surely your son is happy to have had an outstanding season. I’m not sure about all the details of your situation, but the MVP is not just about talent on the field alone but leadership and respect from the other players. Plus, if certain parents are boo birds that hurts their children’s chances of winning awards too. Were u an MVP in the stands?

      Thanks for your post.
      Coach Parker

    • Anonymous

      I agree,going through this right now with baseball,my twins play half the game,no club ball,one boy hits line drives over the fence,they get no chance of pitching,its all about the clique.When these kids get out in the real world they will find out they are not that good,sad for me to watch this.Talent is talent.

  27. Teddy

    You’re kidding yourself and no-one else. You’re looking for a justification for your favoritism, inside deals, and, frankly, corruption. Biological advantage? Pleeeze. Really? Are you serious? Hopefully your son will grow up to be fair-minded with a stronger sense of justice. I always thought most coaches were meat heads. This is more evidence. I have been a coach (and a big sponsor), and have put team captain decisions to a vote. As a coach, I will add that there should never be no more than one coach and an assistant coach (with “add-on” assistant coaches pulling strings and throwing their kid as center, goalie, or whatever favorite position he or she wants….). There should be a coach, and NOT half the teams’ kids’ fathers serving or acting as assistant coaches, or think that they are assistant coaches. Corruption begins young, and sports is a shining example that life is not fair; that connections are king. It’s too bad that it starts so early. (I imagine that your youngest son’s coach has a kid on your team?? Or wants something from you??… At any rate, again… connections, I see it all the time, as a sponsor and as a coach, so no-one is fooled…..) I have tried to be fair-minded, and know that people have given my sons advantages because I am rich/sponsor, or because I have been a coach…. but I don’t kid myself either. And I at least try to make it a fair process and don’t lie to myself either….

    • Hi Teddy

      Thanks for your post. Maybe you should look in the mirror. It sounds like there are other issues with you and your children involved in your coaching and big sponsor choices. I do not know you and vice versa, so I will give you the benefit of the doubt.

      Thanks again for your post and I wish you and yours all the best this Holiday season.

      Coach Parker

  28. coach T

    I see no shortage of volunteer ceoaches. Its a privaledge to coach and I don’t believe a coach shortage exists anywhere. I believe plenty of knowledgeable folks want to coach. So if you think someone would not be glad to take your spot. Step down and see. Nobodys irreplacable. Look at the late great Joe Pa. A truly Great coach. I wonder if he would have coached for nothing just to be able to one more year.

  29. Major

    I spoke up on the nepotism and favoritism on my son’s team last week, now he is getting no play time…. It’s breaking my heart that his coaches are taking their personal vendetta against me out on my son…. My son is a track person and he wants to play Corner Back, but they never let him try out for the position, despite him being one of the fastest sprinters on the team (and one of the smallest at 85 pounds…. weight limit is 130). Their are 8 coaches on my son’s team, 7 of them have son’s on the team that start both ways. The team managers children play and start as well. Did I mention that it is 35 kids on the team? They put my son on the DL, and right before the first game I noticed his confidence started getting high. In that first game he had 4 tackles and a fumble recovery. In the second game he had 5 tackles a fumble recovery and a INT (from the DL). During that next week of practice me and one of the coaches had an argument about him not giving my son a chance to play CB, and the Third game my son played a league minimum 4 plays per half at Offensive Guard & Offensive Tackle…. Today, Game four he played, 4 plays OG in the first half and 3 in the 2nd half….. All of this because I spoke out on the obvious favoritism and nepotism… Now my son’s spirit is down and I feel so bad for him and I’m so angry at the coaching staff…. Coaches should NEVER take a personal quarrel between he and the parent out on the child….. And what bothers me most is that the orginazation is defending this fool and the parents are now divided. Some parents are angry and some say why change things if they are winning…..
    oh well, I just needed to get this off my chest……

    • The main problem with play time on your son’s team is 35 players on the team. This is too many players on a youth football team, so no one is getting enough playtime.

      It sounds like the coaches thought highly of your son and they put him in a position of success if he made 5 tackles a game plus a turnover on defensive line. Especially since there are 35 players on your team. It sounds like your son was getting good play time before you had an arguement about nepotism and favoritism. There are usually only about 35 to 40 plays on defense a game so he was making 15% of the tackles on defense. Pretty good playtime and success rate. Maybe the coaches knew he was fast enough to burst by the slow offensive lineman and make tackles.

      Just because your son wants to play CB doesn’t mean the team and or coaches will let him try out for CB. If the team is a veteran team with players that play CB then they may not let anyone just start playing CB. They may eventually work a new player into that position but will not put a rookie at CB. Unless the rookie is Deione Sanders I would not put a rookie at CB on my team because I use CB like LBs. Coaches like a player to earn some trust with them. Unfortunately sometimes, we trust our own kids, but that’s because we know them. So sometimes, trust of a player might be also called nepotism and or favoritism.

      Also, just because your son is a track star does not make him a good CB. Your team might play weaker players at CB and use them just as contain men to funnel everyone back to the inside. If this is the case, then maybe they want better players on the defensive line. I am not sure what your coaches play on defense, but it does seem like your son was playing on defense and successful.

      Since there are so many on your team at 35 players and your son was getting a pretty good amount of playtime before you had an argument with one of the coaches, then you might have upset them. Coaches are human too, if you argue with one then you might hurt your son’s play time. They are in control of the team not you.

      It always surprises me when a starting player’s parent or a player with significant playtime asks me about more playtime or a move to another position and then starts arguing with me about coaching football and playtime dynamics. We are coaching a TEAM sport not an individual sport, we must do right for the TEAM not just your son.

      • Anonymous

        You make some real good points, coach. But, it’s a little deeper than that, as I’m not the only parent seeing what’s going on. I’m well aware that football is a team sport, and not a family sport either for that matter, but my son played as an opportunist, he made most of his tackles from pursuing the plays from behind. Just flat out hustle, which is what he should be doing. And No my son never got a significant amount if playing time, he is just hustleing his butt off. Now, back to the nepotism, 7 out of 8 coaches kids start both ways and the rest of the kids parents are administrators, and to make matters worse is that some of these kids aren’t even that talented….. And by the way, I am not the only parent that has noticed this. My intent was not to offend any coaches. My intent was to ask them to give some other kids a shot, or at least to evaluate the children fairly and objectively. None the less, an adult man should not take his animosity towards another man out on a child. Period! The line has to be drawn….. Thank you for responding and I hope I didn’t offend you in any way.

  30. Heidi Jo Lundstrom-Keith

    Other kids who’s Dads do not coach may also live and breathe the sport, their Dad’s are just not off early enough to coach. It does not mean the kid whose Dad coaches is a better player!

    • I agree not every coach’s kid is the best player on the team, but after almost 20 years of coaching, coaches’ kids seem to be better than average players on my teams and others.

  31. Voice of Truth

    The only natural advantage that coaches’ kids have is the fact that daddy is holding the clipboard during tryouts.

    • After coaching for almost 20 seasons of youth football, most coach’s kids have above average knowledge, skill and football IQ than other players. You are more than welcome to your opinion but mine is based on experience. Thanks Coach Parker

  32. John Hollister

    The practice of favoritism continues. Football, baseball, etc. until the league steps in and does something, nothing will ever change. I see an overall jump in my own son knowledge of the game. I know because I routinely make every effort to increase his field presence, skill, and leadership on/off the field. Yet, my son is moved from one position to another, never gaining solid footing. This happens while the coaches son still shows mediocre skills. If his arguement is his son has played longer, I say hogwash! Allow kids at 9 and 10 years continue to develop and learn the game. Allow for healthy competition at stages later in their playing career. For the initial post, sad. You are the coach, insist others get a chance and allow offensive coordinators to make moves they feel fit. Don’t judge, if your son has “mastered” his skills, he’ll be the starter. At this age parents, who really gives a heck if they win/lose, that’s life!

    • Thanks for your post. Since I’ve coached over 20 seasons of youth football, I have tried the “pure development” route for one season with a young team we would also coach the next season. Well we were not able to coach that team the next season since many parents wanted off the team since we lost just about every game. Your statement that parents do not care about winning is totally wrong. I am not sure about your situation but I do sympathize with you. I have also been in favoritism situations with my two sons. It hurts as a parent to watch.

      Since you do not know me, I do allow other coaches to make their own choices especially surrounding my sons. I do not like coaching my son position because of the issues it causes. So I try to stay away from coaching them one on one. I started coaching before I had children and I coach now that they are playing on their Jr High and HS teams. I prefer to coach teams when I do not have my kids on the teams. Even then parents accuse us of favoritism. Its a no win situation for coaches since parents think their children are perfect, as they should. I know I do.

  33. Sarah

    I think your theory is ridiculous. A lot of kids are naturally athletic and their fathers may have jobs that prevent them from coaching or the coaching spots are taken by the dad buddies on the team. The fact that you area head coach and your son in the QB proves the point most parents have about favoritism! You can pretend your offensive coach picked him on his own taker but him knowing your the head coach does play a role. If you think your the only dad that watches football with his son or goes over plays you are just tooting your own horn. Coaches always say they play to win but I’ve seen it too mane times when a kid comes to no workouts then gets a starting spot. My son has a spot so I am not bias but I have seen where they place the coaches kids or ex peewee coaches kids and it’s ridiculous. These dads need to stop living vicariously through their children and get out of football politics and let the best and fastest kids play,

  34. jon

    You sir are what is wrong with youth sports. I feel sorry for your kids.

  35. Anonymous

    WOW! I stumbled upon this looking for help with favoritism in youth sports and now I feel more ill than before, I definitely recall my Dad trying to live through me, I was one of those disgusting natural ability athletes with zero character shown by not caring if everyone got to play- well, I’m on the other side with my twelve year old son who has more heart and substance than I’ll ever have and these pathetic fathers living through their kids is disgraceful- I’m certainly getting no help here but one thing I know if a child still qualifies for youth leagues play time should be equal, high school is a different playing field and should be more equal if the coach knows the sport and is not a pushover

    • I am sorry but time should not be equal regarding play time. There is a safety issue in tackle football not only for the said player but for others. I’ve coached a developmental team and did the equal play time scenario and we lost all but one game, The parents were about to hang us and never wanted to play for us again. Most parents want to win, do not let them fool you into thinking they do not want to win.

      One parent talked to me all pre-season about equal playtime for her son and I said I would have to sit another player on the bench so her son would get the playtime. She said sit the other player, I want my son to have the play time. We are all selfish in the end.

      Its unfortunate that a few players on the team will not be starters and must sit the bench, This is a fact of life. The other parents on the team are happy about their children playing. Its always the few parents with players not getting play time that are upset. I get it. My son was a minimum play player his first year of basketball. I was very upset he played very little. I kept my mouth shut and worked with my son. He wound up playing soccer and baseball instead of basketball.

      Over my 20 years of coaching, I actually try to draft and recruit players for my teams that have had older brothers that play football or their dad coaches a sport. Most of the times, these players are very athletic on average and most importantly they know how to be coached. So it has been my experience that coaches kids do have a little extra; mentally and physically. Just like I know most rookies will take 4 to 6 games to wake up and become starters. Unfortunately some players never become starters.

      Do I wish all players were starters. Yes. Do I wish we had time to teach everyone every football position on the team, Yes. But we only have two day of practice per week to prepare for games. Most kids need 3 days of practice per week to remember new concepts which is a fact. So we do our best and hope the kids at least love to hit. And thats another story for another time.

      Have a great day. I wish you all the best.

  36. HL

    Here’s where your theory fails — when the coach’s kid SUCKS but still plays the entire game, and in a crucial position. When a coach keeps his own child in a game at the expense of the team, and to the detriment of the other players’ self esteem (because those kids sitting on the bench CAN PLAY and have TALENT), you have the sickest form of favoritism. I can understand it when the coach’s kid is actually good, but there is no excuse for a father who becomes a coach simply to make sure his talentless child gets to play the entire game– but that’s what goes on here in SEE-caucus, NJ, where favoritism is as common as breathing.

  37. Bill

    Your child may be the best player on the team, but you’re delusional if you believe your offensive coordinator is unbiased when evaluating your child versus another’s for a position on the team.

    • I find it interesting that people who do not even know me are able to diagnose my mental state from a blog post. Look I really did not want either son to play QB. And actually I argued with my offensive coordinator about my oldest son playing QB. Maybe your reading more into the post about your own personal experiences. But please do not call me delusional. I would appreciate it.

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