The Head Coach’s Son; Favoritism in Youth Football / Sports #1 Popular Parent Topic

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Bear @ QB

I am sure many will argue that there is favoritism in youth football. I will agree too. After 30 seasons coaching youth football and other youth sports, there is a ton of favoritism. Daddy ball is alive and well, and in my analysis is why many youth football teams lose in our youth football league. (2020 Update) Find out how to become the coach’s favorite in this podcast.

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.  But 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.

Zane Flag

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 he should be the starting Quarterback; 2 flag & 2 tackle. 

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. Maybe or maybe not?

One could say, 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 family.  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.

Favoritism in Youth Football Article Updated 2020

As a 2020 update to this original 2008 post on favoritism in youth football and youth sports, I was surprised to find over the last 12 years this is the most commented on blog post at I had no idea that this article would spark such fury on the internet. It does attract many soccer parents who want to hang me and call me an idiot. Always much appreciated.

Both of my sons have graduated high school and are in college now. Both played football through their Sophomore year. They were starting QBs, RBs and WRs on offense and both played OLBs on Defense through Jr High and HS. My oldest son Bear also Lettered in Cross Country and went to the State tourney with his CC team. My youngest son never really hit a growth spurt so he decided to work instead. He was a great youth football player as was his older brother. I loved coaching them both.

I continued to coach youth football even after my sons were too old to play for me and my teams. I never played favorites with my sons and I never did with our recruited drafted players. I judge everyone equally and tough on all. Just ask my two boys.

favoritism in youth football and youth sports
Favoritism in Youth Football

I hope you enjoyed this favoritism in youth football article. Please leave a comment below and like and or share the article.

You can also contact me if you have any suggestions, comments, questions, about coaching youth football.

Remember to Play for Fun and Winning is Funner!

Coach Parker
Fort Worth, Texas / Keller TX

update 4/13/2020 – 2020 Gutenbergz

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  1. 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

    1. 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….

    2. 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.

      1. 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. 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!

    1. 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. 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.

    1. “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….” you can tell from your comment, your an idiot

  4. 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. 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.

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