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 CoachParker.org. 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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75 Comments

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

    1. 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

      1. Mr. Parker
        After reading some of your responses here, you sound very pompous! 😮 Wow!

  2. 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!

    1. 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.

  3. 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,

  4. 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

    1. 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.

  5. 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.

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