If you have ever attended a youth sports game, be it baseball, football, or whatever, you have probably seen this firsthand: The coach’s child gets preferential treatment. It’s almost a cliché, it is so epidemic.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s right that parents love their own kids and want them to be successful, even in youth sports. That’s not the problem. The problem is when they “volunteer” to be the coach… and make the game about having their child succeed at any cost. Even hurting another child to do so.
As a parent with my own child involved in youth sports, I’ve sat in the stands at a number of games. Parents see the favoritism. It’s impossible to miss.
Many talk about it… in the stands.
A few are so frustrated they remove their child from sports altogether. But confront the problem head-on? Rarely.
I can understand why they don’t: “Don’t rock the boat.” Avoid being labeled. And, at times, there is the legitimate fear of backlash… to their child. So they keep quiet.
I get it!
Unfortunately it’s not good. It allows a board of coaches to continue to use the platform of sports to further their own child regardless of his or her actual ability.
When the coach puts his child in a starting position… every game, or makes him or her an all-star… every time, while they really have no talent greater than the other team members, it saddens me.
Yes, there is an equal injustice when a coach favors a child whose parent sponsors the league, or who owns a local business in town and is being courted for such sponsorship. But, at least it is another child getting special treatment.
And what happens when the coach’s son or daughter, erroneously (unfairly) built up over the years as a “champion” now tries to make a competitive-positions’ team, such as in high school?
A place where the parent can no longer affect the decision. Having never dealt with disappointment, the possibility of the child being dramatically crushed becomes a reality.
Better at age seven, where the character is more prone to be molded, than at seventeen, where it is not as malleable.
Again, don’t get me wrong, I feel that so many coaches are there for the right reasons. But often just as many fail to stop the ones that are not. When you go with it, and fail to stop it…nothing good long term can come of it.
So, in youth sports, let’s give each team member an equal chance. Let’s let them enjoy the sport. Always remember that they are kids!
Let’s focus on positive values, then, and create solid platforms for all our kids as we teach them the importance of teamwork, of respecting others, and, of equal importance, of having fun.
If we bring this awareness, we definitely provide a starting point. This is why spreading this will help without pointing fingers or judging. At the end of the day, we are all parents wanting the best for our kids.
Bob Salomon, co-creator of the award-winning children's book, "A Glove of Their Own" and author of the forthcoming book "Beyond the Laces," is the driving force in uniting all sports to ultimately help children by inspiring them to build character and, thus, achieve their life's goals. Follow Bob on Twitter@Gloveoftheirown. And join him on Facebook.