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. 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.

    1. 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!

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

    1. 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

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

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