Love ’em or hate ’em, there is no denying that Bostonians take their sports any every level very seriously. The other day I came across this article on Boston.com that discussed what is probably the #1 LEAST favorite question a coach gets asked; “Why isn’t my kid playing?” Plenty of youth sports coaches have had to find a way to tactfully answer this question because, let’s be honest, no coach wants to say and no parent wants to hear “They’re just not good enough.” While at a young age we at SportsSignup believe that every child deserves as much time on the field as possible, especially when they are still learning the fundamentals. As children get older and the level of competition gets higher some youth athletes are bound to stand out amongst their teammates and the pressure to win grows. Maybe those players are naturally more talented, maybe they were exposed to better coaches at an earlier age, or maybe they just work harder than anyone else. But as players get older some athletes will be at the head of the pack, others will be in the middle, and still others will fall behind.
But as the article pointed out, “The absurdity of many “win-at-all-cost” coaches in youth sports is neatly matched by the fanaticism of “play-my-kid-or-else” parents at the high-school level.” Yes, coaches need to be held accountable and benching the same 3 players every game, especially at a young age, simply because they want to win is unacceptable. Too many kids are quitting youth sports because they never get the time or the chance to learn to love playing! If playing sports isn’t fun how can we expect them to love it for their lives? But on the flip side, parents have to accept that as their children get older they may not be the best athlete on the field. On extremely competitive teams there might be (and probably is) someone better than their son/daughter. Pushing the coach to get your child more playing time simply because YOU want them to play more isn’t going to make life better for anyone.
The thing is that many kids know what they’re good at, and what they’re not good at. When it comes to football, for instance, most of the middle-schoolers or freshman already know the one or two kids who are good enough to play on the varsity team. And be the ones likely to catch the eye of a college recruiter. Their parents do not.
Kids have their own likes and dislikes, hopes and desires, wants and needs. Most kids know when they aren’t the best pitcher/shooter/dribbler/goalie on their team. It might inspire them to try harder and earn their way to the top. Or it might make them realize they’d prefer to play on a less competitive team and focus more on the fun aspect of sports. Either option is fine, as long as they are happy! But if their choice is to bow out of competitive sports, parents have to be okay with their child not being a superstar.
There are always two sides to every story. And yes, there are plenty of coaches that bench kids that probably deserve to play. But at the same time, parents have to learn to step back and let the coach run the team. We’re not suggesting that you never voice your concerns, but instead of YOU approaching the coach why not encourage your son/daughter to do so? If a player comes to a coach and asks “What do I need to do to get more time on the field?” that shows an incredible amount of maturity and dedication that most coaches will respect and respond to.
We as parents only want the best for our kids, and we want them to succeed at everything they do. And while we should always encourage kids to aim high and give it their all, there is no shame in NOT being the absolute best.