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. 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.

  2. 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

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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

  7. 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.

  8. 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,

  9. jon

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

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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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