Favoritism in Youth Sports

Since my last favoritism post is the most read and the post I get the most email about,  I thought I would try and answer some of the emails in this post.  I agree that there is favoritism at all levels of youth sports.  I also think that each coach has a different set of qualities and attributes that they look for in a player and parents see their children through rose colored glasses which always makes them seem the best, and there is nothing wrong with that because you love them and want the best for them. 

Last year my youngest son played for a youth football team and played back-up quarterback behind the head coach’s son.  I admit I was not happy about this situation but honestly the head coach’s son was a better QB than my son last season.   I am not happy my son did not start QB, but was that the coach’s fault?

Also since different coaches see different qualities and skills in a player, one coach may find your child a starter and another coach may not see your son as a starter.  Since I am not coaching this year, I am watching my two son’s teams and see players that I would use in different positions than they are currently being used.  Plus coaches run different offenses and defenses which may require different skill sets.  My oldest son, who has started as QB the last three years is a back up QB on his new team because the Keller Kanes run an option offense.  Berndt is not an option style QB, so he is the starting Tight End this year and loves it.  He loves blocking and catching passes which is has not done in the past.  He’s also starting on defense at defensive tackle and loves defense, especially since I did not let him play defense as a starting QB.  He actually asked to be moved from MLB to D-tackle because he loves the hitting.  I never knew.  Am I happy Berndt is not starting at QB?  No, but when I step back, Bear is not the best option QB on the team. 

Yes, many coaches feel it is a right to play their son or relative in a certain position.  This happened on a baseball team I helped coach last summer.  The head coach told me that since he was coach, his son would play first base and that was final.  Well, we had words and I lost.  His son wound up playing first and he did not do a bad job, as a matter of fact the best first baseman played third and made a great 3rd baseman.  So it worked out in the end.   What’s the moral of this story?  If you want to guarantee your son or relative to play a certain youth sports position then you should commit the time to coach.  (I strongly disagree with coaching just so your child can play a certain position.)  Yes, its unfair to some kids but most of the coaches are unpaid volunteers so I guess this is the price you pay by not coaching.  I started coaching to insure my sons were coached properly and if I do not coach them, I do my research on the team and coach.  Before we moved to Keller I researched the DFW football leagues and we moved to an area with a good youth sports program, Keller Sports Association.

Yes, you should talk to the coach if you feel your child is not getting the play time.  Do not be confrontational or argue with the coach.  Don’t become a pest.  One of my closest friends in Denver became a pest and was confrontational to a head coach and his son was benched.  There is a fine line, but you should have at least one conversation and if you can’t control your emotions call them or email them. 

Like I said in my last post, if your child is better than the coach’s son or favorite, based on the coach’s evaluation, I am sure your child will play.  If your child is equal or just a touch better than thier son, well you might be out of luck.  Coaches want to win.  I do believe the better coaches will play the best players and they do not have nefarious schemes not to play your child. 

Play for Fun and Winning is Funner.

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6 Comments

Filed under Youth Coaching

6 responses to “Favoritism in Youth Sports

  1. Eric Bowser

    None select or pay for play youth football should be a learning experience for ALL kids. Kids learn by coaching AND by playing in the game. Denying kids the same practice or playing time based on lack of talent or ability only further handicaps them and limits their ability for growth and for later opportunities. It would be akin to our schools only teaching the academically gifted and placing the rest on the sideline. While winning is fun, in youth football (generally up through 6th grade), everyone learning the game and being given equitable playing time is more important than a final score. Coaches and parents need to stop focusing so much on the win/loss percentage and focus more on teaching youth the game so they will ALL be ready for the next level not just a select few.

  2. Coach Parker,
    I probably need to visit your site more often. I had no idea you moved. I have a great deal of respect for you as a coach, but I have to respectfully disagree with you on the favoritism. A good coach places his players where it benefits the TEAM. That means prioritizing your positions and putting the best candidates in the key positions. If you’re a spread team or option team, that means your QB is pretty important. Double Wing, probably your FB.

    If you place pick your most important positions based on blood relation, I think you’re doing a tremendous disservice to your team.

    Lar

  3. SB

    So, what do you do when it isn’t about playing time but discipline. Our son’s basketball coach has a son on the team who can do no wrong however other players on the team get humiliated and screamed at in front of everyone for their mistakes and our sons confidence has continued to deteriorate. How do you handle this type of situation? And this coach is not approachable. He is arrogant and cocky and his way is the only way! He does a great job at equal playing time as they are only 5th graders, but the discipline is killing a lot of the kids confidence because they feel they are being picked on when the coach’s son commits the same mistake and it is over looked and when they make a mistake they are benched! It is extrememly frustrating as a parent to see this happen and to have your child come home from ball games and practices extremely discouraged!
    Thanks in advance for your input!
    SB

  4. LS

    I have a situation that I would like feedback about. In my city, the numbers of boys in the Pop Warner program decreased when the Middle School started a football program for 7th and 8th grade. Now although it is too bad that there are not enough boys for an A and/or B team that is not my issue. My problem is that my son who is entering 6th grade told me three of his friends were registered to play on the 7th & 8th grade Middle School football team. The registration was in March and the form clearly stated the program was for students entering 7th and 8th grade. I had also had a conversation with the coach at the end of last season to see if they would take a large 6th grader with 4 years Pop Warner experience. I was told the kids have to be in 7th or 8th grade. There was no communication from the Middle School or the Pop Warner coach that the program may be open to eligible 6th graders. One of the boys is 140 lbs and only 11 so his parents are afraid he will get hurt if he plays for the Pop Warner A team. Well, my son is also 140 lbs and also only 11 and will not be playing in the A team because we are not comfortable with him potentially playing against 14/15 year olds. My issue is that only these three boys were registered because their parents had some inside information that exceptions would be made. Am I being unreasonable that this is unacceptable and the city should not allow this sort of favoritism. If they open it up to specific 6th graders, it should have been offered to any one interested. Oh yeah, the other two boys have no Pop Warner experience, this will be the first time they play football.

    • This just sounds like poor communication by the league which happens all the time. Everyone is a volunteer and I am sure no one meant any harm. Most likely the league does not want 6th graders playing and only because of personal knowledge of the coach were these boys allowed to play. The Pop Warner league probably did not want to open up the issue to a larger crowd. Most players should not play up and should play at the correct age levels. I would not worry about it and focus on your son playing in the correct division were he can dominate.

      Thanks
      Coach Parker

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