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.
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.
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update 4/13/2020 – 2020 Gutenbergz