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. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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).


  4. 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!!!

  5. 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?

    1. 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.

  6. 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.

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