Totally against suing obviously on these matters but it sounds like in each case
there might be some concerns on how things were handled. One minute on the
team, the next you're not when some athletes join the team. That
isn't too good. I've never heard anyone ever getting kicked off the
track and field team, even when members don't show up to practice. Most
coaches are pretty lenient because many times track athletes might be doing
other sports. It sounds like a personality conflict that couldn't get
worked out, rather than the athlete in question didn't have any abilities.
Once again I'm not sure these are "legal" issues per se but to be
honest after reading the story, I could see how parents might be upset and feel
that their sons weren't treated fairly. I could honestly say this
isn't a shining moment for athletes or coaching.
Having run basketball leagues for many years it is sad but true that PARENTS are
destroying sports for youth. If a kid is on a team it is apparently his right to
play? Sports is being destroy quickly by parents trying to live their failed
dreams through their kids and it's life or death for them. Sad sad reality.
It seems to me a good coach would not have to worry about this as there would be
plenty of evidence to disprove any legal action. I believe a coach of any sport
has an obligation to play their best players. The problem comes from politics:
when parents "donate" a large sum of money, give gifts, show favoritism,
to the school or coach expecting their child to play (implied or not). This
does happen in the state of Utah and several coaches have been fired for ethical
violations. To me a good coach sets the right boundaries with parents and
students at the start of the season and does not cross those boundaries. If
there is a dispute, a good coach will meet with the parents and hear their
concerns. He may show film and other documentation to explain their position.
A good coach motivates the players, even the players on the practice squad, to
perform their best and make them feel a valuable part of the team. A good coach
builds relationships with players and parents and will not avoid them. A sign
of a good coach is when the players and parents all respect and love the coach.
When I saw the headline, my first impression was right on! Then as you read the
actual story or the cases involved it doesn't seem so black and white.
That's all I'm saying. Are parents problematic in youth and high
school athletics? Yes, without a doubt. But I think these two cases might not
show that problem exactly. I'm not sure they have a legal case per se, but
there is enough there if you read the story to be concerned that the school and
coaches in question could have handled things differently.
Having been on both sides of the equation I have some perspective. However,
there isn't enough detail here to define this case.As a coach I
wonder what keeps him from showing up for practice and encouraging trhe rest of
his teammates. And then it's a question of was he really better than the
upperclassmen or even maybe some new transfers into the school? Did someone else
improve over the summer?As a parent you question if their is favoritism?
One of the lessons of sports is that life isn't always fair and the
best talent doesn't always succeed so we have to learn to deal with
inequiries and move on with our life.
By the time kids reach high school age, many parents are just frazzled and on
edge from all the years and money invested in their athletic phenom. I watched
this unfold as my son played baseball from 10 yrs old to a Senior in HS. From 10
yrs to about 15-16 yr old, some parents have spent and enormous amount of money
on academies, club ball, personal training and other things to mold their child
into a superstar. Sometimes that works, many times it doesn't. We did not
spend anywhere near what other folks spent during this time, but my son had fun
playing, had an outstanding HS experience and played college ball. I watched
other parents during this time as their child quit playing, worked through HS or
found other interests. A few were cut from playing altogether. Some of the
parents had a tough time with this and accepting that their plan did not work
out. You could see the stress from this on their faces as their kids friends
kept playing. Many hard feelings and comments towards the school, coaches and
others came from this. But sueing the school over this situation is a little
How long would HS programs exists if they followed youth sports rules? no cuts,
minimum # of plays or time on the field, points don't matter, snacks at the
end of the game, participation trophy at the end of the season....Sometimes I think the European model works better. School is for learning,
education and knowledge. Sports clubs (not tied to the school) are for those
that want to play and compete.I understand educators use athletics
to "motivate" students to achieve average work. There are some who
attend enough classes and do enough homework to barely maintain their athletic
eligibility, with the belief that their athletic skills and "passing"
grades will get them far in HS, or even into college. Do away with
HS sports, save the districts and tax payers tons of money, no fields and
stadiums to maintain.
And this is why I love the sport of Wrestling!! There is almost always a
directing relationship between Effort and Results; Politics and money play take
a back seat. As for this article, I think anyone who has coached
at the high school, or even Jr. high, level can attest that the amount of
'politics' being played among the parents and school officials is
Ridiculous! I cringed when I read the headlines of this story, but definitely
understand why this is happening. And unfortunately, the ones who suffer the
most are the athletes and the coaches. If the coach doesnt 'Win', he
loses his job. If he plays the better athlete, wins, but upsets the 'Big
donor' parents, he loses his job. And, the better athlete ends up sitting,
which in turn takes away his/her college and scholarship opportunities, which in
turn keeps the truly better athlete from going on to do great things... and the
problem goes on and on because of politics and money. So, I hate that
legal action is being taken, but maybe thats what needs to happen to help remove
'politics' in sports...
When I was in HS, the basketball coach assured me that he'd put me on the
team but then he, without any justification, changed his mind. I didn't
fight it. I just concluded that the coach was a contemptible liar and
couldn't be trusted. I've learned since then that he was more the rule
than the exception. There's a lot of politics in sports. Kids have been put
on teams because their father was a friend of the coach or he was the son of a
school board member, etc. It isn't just a matter of who is the best at the
sport. Like so many other things in life, it's not how good you are but who
you know. Athletics from junior high to the pros just exposes how much cheating
goes on in the name of good sportsmanship. Our society would be a lot better
off if taxpayers were not forced to pay for this corrupt system through school
What about when my son spends over 3000 hours of his life in active
participation in his sport and is, as a coach of the sport myself, CLEARLY the
better player in all measurable (and intangible) aspects of the game, the harder
worker, the better student, the better athlete, is an upperclassman to
alternatives, and doesn't play a LICK because the coach's son and
those of his assistants play every error-filled, strike out laden inning?Do we do nothing?You tell me?
re. JohnnyClutch: You prove my point. Why spend 3000 hours on a game? Your son
probably would be better off if he had spent the time studying. Not criticizing
you or your son but, in the long run, sports is a waste of time and money.
I couldn't disagree with you more. My son going into his senior year has a
3.91 GPA and has learned extremely valuable lessons from his participation in
baseball, the least of which is certainly not self-esteem. There's no farm to work on, nor company to work for, as he enters
manhood. He's lifted weights, learned to work hard, is extremely
respectful, and we've spent thousands of hours together doing something
that totally bridges the generation gap.Even if he doesn't play
an inning his senior year, it was time well spent. 3000 hours is a
year and a half on the job, and I will not sit back and watch Daddy coach steal
the fruit of playing time from him arbitrarily.If that makes me a
"problem parent", fine.
re: JSB "You prove my point. Why spend 3000 hours on a game? Your son
probably would be better off if he had spent the time studying. Not criticizing
you or your son but, in the long run, sports is a waste of time and
money."I completely disagree!! he didnt say his son spent 3000 hours
on a 'game'. He said his son spent 3000 hours "actively
participating in a sport". There's a huge difference. 3000 hours on a
game is a waste. 3000 hours developing physical skills, mental strength, social
skills, and learning to deal with winning and losing, is, and should be, a HUGE
part of a childs development. Certainly studying is important as well...
However, saying his son, or any kid, would be better off studying more is simply
@ JohnnyClutchI completely understand your frustration. I am from
the southern utah area, and was a 3 sport athlete in high school. I was a good
enough athlete to make all the teams, but the coaches wouldnt give me the time
of day in the majority of those sports. In one instance, a move in made the
team, the coach started him over me without ever really seeing him play, and
after 3 games he was benched and I started once again. coach never said a word
to me or told me he was sorry. In another sport I was a starter, and a few days
before our first game, an assistant coach took me out of the starting line up
for his own son, so who had a failure of a season. I still got a good amount of
playing time, but nonetheless I didnt get what was rightfully mine. I hope your
son can catch a break his senior year. But, I also have learned personally that
life is more than sports. Doesnt mean that its not fair, but in 5 years it will
hardly even matter.
The first step is to separate sports and school at all levels. A recent NCAA
report found that only a small number of universities made money on their
football program, let alone all sports combined. In reality, sports are a huge
money drain on schools which benefit only a small minority of students (and even
does most of them no favors; most would still go to school and aren't going
to get scholarships.)
My take. If we hire the best coaches most problems are minimized. I'm not
saying hiring teachers is the answer, I don't believe it is, hire the best
coaches possible, whether they teach or not. Much of the problem is who the
Admin and the AD's hire, their buddies, their co-worker, whether they are
qualified or not, if they hire bad ones, they deserve the heat. Our young
ladies still get the shaft; title 9 took care of the money but not the fairness.
Be honest, no lip service, hire the best. If you'd like to know if your
school hires the best coach for both the girls and boys program ask the Admin to
rotate the boys/girls coaches every few years, not the entire staff (assistants
pitching, hitting coaches) but trade the baseball/softball and the boys/girls
basketball head coaches, If the boys program gets a crappy coach, I promise no
lip service in the world will save him, but they give this same coach to the
girls program. Hire good coaches and it's a win-win, hire a bad one and you
deserve to be sued.
If sports is such a great character-building experience, then why not make it
available to any student who wants to participate? Instead it is limited to the
fortunate few who happen to have the right connections or have the unique
physical gifts. But why should those who are small or not athletically gifted be
prevented from participation? In junior high we had inter-murals in which we all
participated and we had a great time. Then in high school only a select
"elite" got to have this important character-building experience. If
taxes pay for the sports programs, then everyone who wants to should be allowed
to play. The present system is arbitrary and unfair. If there are 200 students
capable of taking calculus, should only the top 50 students be allowed to take
the class? If there are 200 students that want to play football and are willing
to try hard and practice, why are only the top 40 or 50 students allowed to
Between these kind of lawsuits, concussions and the accompanying litigation,
lack of funds and other issues - high school sports is headed to the European
model of club teams.
Funny to hear so much about the "politics" involved in sports for kids.
Yes it does exist, but parents need to stop using the P word when their kid just
doesn't measure up. I can't think of any kids who played because their
parents were big donors, or friends with the coach, or related to a school
official. But I can think of a whole lot of parents who use that for an excuse
when their kids don't play...The kids that do play are almost always the
ones that work hard, and have parents that practice with them rather than
complain about how "political" the system is. Teach your kids to accept
what comes and make the best of it instead of trying to make all their dreams
This has become a comment board filled with absolute misinformation. As a high
school coach (assistant and head), I can tell you that I have never even seen an
athlete get playing time based on who he knows. In some cases an athlete works
hard and then gets to know the coaches very well...the order of this process
should be noticed. If you or you're kid does not play, then they are not
the better player. That is it. In rare cases, there are two athletes who are
very similar and a coach has to make a judgement call...this is where parents
use the "politics" card. If you or your son are in this situation, take
a look in the mirror and realize that you have not set yourself apart enough to
deserve the outright starting spot. It is tough, but thus is life. Get better or
get bitter, your choice. It sounds like the latter has been the default of too
we won't have to worry soon ...at least for high school and below...since
Barack and Michelle will mandate 'fairness' in athletics - everyone
gets equal playing time and the object is not to win but make kids feel good.
Think this is absurd? Better think again. Remember - 'fairness' is the
word of the day in liberal land.
When a child wants a new pair of shoes, the parent buys them. Instant joy,
approval, and satisfaction. When they want to go to a movie, $20.00 whether or
not the money is earned. When the child wants a better grade, the parent is
immediately after the teacher. Sports are the last venue where the child gets
what is deserved and the parent (in the majority of cases) cannot give his or
her child instant gratification. It is earned. What coach does not want to win?
Which coach does not play the best combination of players to achieve success?
I'm sorry, but a lot of whining on this blog. Have you ever had a parent
ask you if their child is not better than the child playing in front of theirs?
Loaded question, but even if you know the truth, you will find a way to appease
the person posing the question. Their are instances where the has been
inappropriate behavior I'm sure.
Hymn to the silent, I have to respectfully disagree with your comment. I have
personally witness this happening at a high school. When a coach has to raise
money and it comes from a parent who donates, it creates a dual relationship,
an ethical violation in my opinion. The coach has put him/herself in a
situation, whether implied or not, that their child will play. Coaches should
never be the ones raising funds but should be left to the boosters, which
involve several parents and community members, who volunteer their time. The
problem comes when statistics can document who is the better player, who comes
to practice, and puts in the most effort. When a favored player starts over a
more qualified player, The teams members know and it effects the moral of the
team. This is where coaches get into trouble.
@kensutefanLet me guess, the example you pose was you or your child.
How many coaches do you personally know who would give up being better/winning
more to appease a parent or strengthen their relationship with an inferior
player? Even in the rare case that it happens, a single instance does not a
pattern make. Don't taint all coaches with the story of an outlier.
I've coached for three decades. I want to build character in my athletes.
I want them to be good citizens and good students first and foremost. I also do
want to win games. I prefer not to coach with parents if all possible because
of the things noted in the posts above. I want to play the best players because
I will be evaluated on whether the team wins games. Most coaches I've
noticed want to win games. Have I ever made a mistake in choosing to play this
player over another? Yes, but it was a honest mistake in judgment of their
talent and work ethic. It wasn't because of money or favortism. If
coaches do this, they won't win too many games and hence job security is
threatened. High school sports are much more likely to have better fairness in
club sports where more often the case the team is led by a parent. In high
school, the coach is likely to be a teacher who has no familial tie to any
player and thus less likely to favor players for these reasons.
@hymn, Couldn't disagree with you more. Having been around high school
sports with my son and without I saw many instances where the best kid
wasn't playing for political reasons, it wasn't a secret to myself and
even some of the assistant coaches. I had my son win a starting spot on a
football team only to be demoted to second string the week before the season
started when a physically larger kid transferred into the school,this kid had
never even practiced with the team. I saw another kid given a starting spot on
the team after his mother donated a large amount of money to the team, this kid
was in the starting lineup in a playoff game even though he had hurt his leg and
could barely walk, I could cite many many more instances, it's just a fact
that this goes on, how much of it depends on the integrity and competence of the
In answer to your question JSB. Money. That's why we have intra murals.
Flag football is great for those not gifted enough to play football. In my
experience coaching, it was pretty easy to pick the top seven or eight. After
that the line became blurred. I gave skill tests which included shooting,
dribbling, passing, one on one games to ten, etc. Then I had the players rank
who they thought were the best to the least. Interesting fact is the players
rankings generally matched what the tests showed. They were required to put
their names on the paper and seldom placed themselves higher than the ranking
and skills tests showed. What the tests didn't show was aggressiveness,
passing skills in a competitive situation etc. So scrimmages were held which
showed another side of a player. Parents would probably rank them different. I
hear a lot of woe is me talk here. The more I observe sports the more I am
disappointed in the direction it is headed.
Unfortunately the game has changed in high school sport. Large sums of money
has to be raised these days to pay for expenses or teams can not compete.
Pressure is on coaches to be in the black at the end of a session. High school
teams can not rely on bakes sales or care washes. Remember, school districts
are not paying for sports. For a team to function, they have to raise $40.000
to 50.000 dollars or more yearly . There is no questions that coaches want to
win, but they have to have money to function. Someone asked in my example if it
was my son. No. It was what I saw and have documentation of occurring. I want
to make it clear, I do not like the direction of sue happy people and I am very
supportive of strong ethical coaches. I am just being real.
CJHR: I feel you don’t understand what people(parents) are saying. You
say there’s misinformation here, but as a mom who just ended 3yrs of
football at a SaltLake highschool , your perspective seems arrogant. Coaches
might feel personally attacked here, I don’t believe it’s
intentional. If you’re a good coach& don't play favorites,
you’re fine. Don’t say it doesn’t happen with trite comments
about evil/bitter parents/kids. Fact is MANY boys, sit on the sideline watching
the same 5boys go in repetitively making the same mistakes. There ARE coaches
who lie and play favorites. I agree, “Why would they do that and cause a
loosing record?” Question: “How long does that loosing record have
to continue before they are replaced?” They boys get one year while the
coaches go on. My son’s team got shafted because the coaches have no clue
that when they continue with the same “read option” the other team
defends it well. Their attitude ONLY working with 5players is wrong! NOT EVERY
coach does this, but where I live, they do.
Having spent 42 years as a HS coach, I can say with certainty that I never
played someone because of whose son he was or who he knew. All of my decisions
were based on merit and ability. When parents had questions about why their
sons weren't playing, I could explain it logically and with proof. Many
times it was "your son misses at least one practice a week" or "your
son broke team rules". Many of my decisions were difficult and I always
gave players a chance to prove themselves. A lot of this BS about suing coaches
comes from parents who want to relive their "glory days", although they
probably weren't so glorious after all. Time dulls memory and makes it
better than it really was. That is not to say that there are not abuses, but I
would say that in my experience they are extremely rare. My own boys had to
earn their spots in all the sports they played. The only thing I required of
them is that they finish what they started.
And we really wonder why we lose great coaches?
@OldcoachI appreciate your comments and agree with you. My first
post stated what a good coach does to be successful. If a coach is ethical,
plays his best players, establishes boundaries with player and parents, and
documents well, he/she will be successful. I also agree that most coaches are
this way. However, in the past two years we have seen several ethical
violations that have resulted in coaches being fired. To have a black and white
view is not realistic. There's no question that there is sometimes abuse
by parents, which is why you set strong boundaries. You cross the line once you
accept gifts or money from individual parents. Let me reiterate that I do NOT
agree with sue-happy parents. I am on the coaches side! But, coaches need to
get those boundaries established by having more communication with parents, not
by avoiding them. And by not accepting gifts or money or anything that would
make it look like they are showing favoritism.
@Oldcoach, You don't know how much I agree with you! If you can
show by documentation logically and with proof why you have made the decisions
you make, I as a parent, will understand and be fine with it. But it's a
problem when the boys know they can't challenge for a spot. My son just
would go and quietly try harder, but would get no recognition. The "Fave
5" could make any mistake and be given chance after chance, but if anyone
ELSE makes a mistake, they are OUT. There was one boy on our team, NOT my son,
who made a mistake in a game early in the season and was NEVER given a chance
again. He came to practices, he did everything he was asked. He was a fabulous
player and had done great all the other years (I filmed all the games, I have
the proof) but he hardly got any playing time at all. WHY? Because the coaches
didn't like his parents and they blamed it on his one missed catch. I
could go on and on with stories like this.
Parents are the key to this problem. They try to live their dreams through
their kids! I see this everyday! As a coach, working at various levels, I see
the damage parents inflict upon their kids. Let coaches be the coach. Parents
should focus on being parents. Accept and support their abilities (which
translates into the amount of their playing time). Praise them for their
success. Teach them from their failures. Love them regardless. On
the other hand, if you teach them to find fault in their coach, find fault in
their teammates, blame, blame, blame... they do the same in their life.
They'll grow up and find fault in everyone they deal with. They'll
blame everyone else for their problems. Make good choices in what you teach
@GidgieSometimes toxic parents produce toxic kids. Let me explain.
Sometimes a kid comes along who is a pretty good player, but his parents have
put it in his head that he is far better than any other player. He comes into a
team with that attitude and starts immediately starts to find fault and complain
about who is playing where he should be. It becomes an impossible situation
that affects the whole team. I have met with that kind of player and his
parents and laid out what I expected of him as a player. The kid usually made
some adjustments to his attitude, but more often than not I found it was the
parents who could not adjust. In those cases we came to the conclusion that it
was better that he not play at all. I made a few enemies, but always made sure
all involved knew why the decision was made. The team was always better for not
having that player on the team.
The challenge sometimes as a coach of team sports is that sometimes a talented
player can be bad for the team and the parents actually enter into the equation.
No coach wants a player that is a cancer on the team. The whole is greater than
the sum of the parts. Loyalty to the team's mission is important.
Sometimes a player who has more talent than others has to be cut for the good of
the team. But these decisions are hard and often times attempts, as Oldcoach
suggested, are made to try to work with the athlete and parents to no avail.
@JohnnyClutchWe went through similar things with our oldest son and
his high school baseball team. There is no doubt it is frustrating to watch
other kids play while yours is not, especially when they strike out, make
errors, and when you know the kids playing have outside relationships with
coaches and that is a factor in them getting the playing time. But just remember
this, it isn't the end of the world, for you or your son. Coaches are held accountable for results, and while you may disagree with who
they play, I can tell you we certainly did, they still need to make decisions
for their team and they are the ones that have a job on the line if they
don't get good enough results. It's true your son may not
get to play and he may be every bit as good, or even better, than some of the
kids that will play. But you need to keep your dignity and your sons. You need
to be the better man.You may have to endure a very tough season but
don't do something you'll eventually regret.
This article is simply inflammatory and you're off base for publishing it
Brad.Yes there is a problem with parents pushing kids and coaches around.
Always has been.Parents have ruined the psyche of their children, cost
coaches jobs and embarrassed themselves for life over sports. What else is
new.Nobody is ever going to be sued because they didn't put little
Johnny in the game.It's probably time for coaches to start suing
parents for slander and a myriad of other reasons.
Can't we all agree that every group is somehow at fault and life isn't
fair? I've seen players only play because of who their older
brothers are (and no, it wasn't over me -- I started at a different
position) and they hope the younger brother can be like that.I've seen parents make big deals and cause problems for the coach simply
because their son wasn't playing enough or in a big enough role.I've also seen idiot kids that don't try hard and feel entitled, and
when they don't play, it's somehow not their fault.In
football, I started every game but one my senior year. The Monday I found out I
wouldn't start the next week hurt. When I told my mom about it, she wanted
to write the coach an email. I immediately said no. I knew that's not how
sports worked. I learned a lot that week and ended up being made a starter
again the next week. Morale of the story: kids can learn from bad experiences,
parents need to calm down, and coaches can change their minds.
@sky2k1I agree with your post. The issue with coaches and parents
is not black and white abuse takes place on both sides. In my field, I have to
document everything I do. This is not the fun part of my work, however, it paid
off as I had to go to California in a multi million dollar law suite. I was
deposed in front of 15 attorneys. When I left, all but on settled out of court.
I would like to to credit for this, however, it came down to documentation and
what was in the record. I can not state this point strong enough, but ethics,
documentation, and building relationships are key to being a good successful
coach. Oldcoach seems to be a great example of this.
Entitlement for making a team, NEVER. Constitutional for being on a team? NO
WAY! Right to tryout based on meeting school and school district eligibility
requirements, absolutely! The expectation to have a fair and honest coach?
WITHOUT A DOUBT! But Parents who sue based solely on getting cut or
not starting, RIDICULOUS. Been coaching for over 20+ years, seen it all.
Entitlement is a huge problem in our society. Great Book for all
parents to read: RAISING A NATION OF WHIMPSWake up, America:
We’re raising a nation of wimps.Hara Marano, editor-at-large
says, Kids cant make their own decisions, cope with anxiety, or handle difficult
emotions without going off the deep end.Read this Book!