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Playing time at the High School Level

April 21, 2011

My oldest son, a 16 year old High School junior, is a part of one of, if not the, best athletic programs in our state.  Our High School athletic teams have overall winning records that cannot be denied.  We are fortunate to have extremely talented athletes, dedicated coaches and involved families.  My family has had the privilege of watching our oldest son be a valued contributor on the varsity football, basketball and JV baseball teams at this school.  We feel it is a privilege and an honor to be involved in these athletic programs.

I write today in an effort to foster a more positive attitude and atmosphere among my fellow sports parents.  I think the topic of playing time and position is by far, the most talked about topic in high school sports.  I haven’t done actual research on this.  It’s just my feeling.

I’d like to encourage everyone to maybe, take a step back and enjoy these years.  We all know how quickly the time goes by.  So here are some of my random thoughts.

We, as a family, understand that being on the High School team does not mean our athlete will be guaranteed to play the position he wants to play or get the amount of minutes he would like, out on the field or on the court.  Keep in mind that I am referring to competitive High School sports, not recreation teams or little leagues.  Does that mean that we are never frustrated or upset about playing time or position?  Of course not.  We are human.  It really does happen to everyone…even the best of athletes.

I truly believe our high school coaches are working to WIN championships.  That’s how it should be.  Winning isn’t everything, it’s the ONLY thing at this level.  I want to believe…and I really do believe, that they are fielding the best team possible and there are no politics involved.  I constantly hear this word, politics, and I’m just not buying it.  Being on the Booster Club Board does NOT get my kid more playing time.  Volunteering endless hours does NOT get my kid more playing time.  (Although, volunteering and being involved to help the team as a whole is greatly appreciated, needed and valued by all.)  Complaining to other parents, the coaches or the Athletic Director will NOT and SHOULD NOT get my kid more playing time.  Only the best players…the ones who are most likely to help the team win games are getting the playing time.  A kid gets the starting position and playing time because he or she deserves it, not because the parent did or didn’t do something.  I don’t want to appear naive, but really… how long would a coach last if he or she were giving less talented players preferential playing time for some reason other than their ability?  Maybe there are some of you out there who disagree with me.  Let me know what you think.  Maybe upper classmen should get first chance at a spot.  But then, they have to work to keep that spot.  And it should be up for grabs all season.  If someone beats them out, they will have to work harder to get it back.

Now, I have seen talented players cut from teams….only to find out that they are trouble makers or bullies, don’t keep up their grades or don’t work hard in practice.  This, I agree with, and wish coaches took these things into account more often.

It is my belief and understanding that each athlete soon knows his role on the team.  He knows how much playing time he will get or not get.  He knows which position he will play or not play.  The athletes have been informed.  Everyone has his role.

Some athletes’ roles are to be the Scout players:  the ones in practice who play hard against the first string.  The ones who make the starters BETTER.  Without the Scout team, the team would not succeed.  They are an important and integral part of the team.  The team cannot WIN without them.  Our athletes are truly looking to us, their parents, to support them in their role on the team.  They are usually fine with their role.  What scares them, is worrying how we, their  parents, will handle their role on the team.  We need to encourage and support them always.

Honestly, we understand that it can be frustrating to think your kid should be playing when he is not. Everyone wants to see their kid get to play.  It’s way more fun when your kid is on the field.  And it’s even harder to get playing time when your athlete attends the largest school in the state with extremely talented athletes everywhere.  When it happened to our son, we resisted the urge to call the coaches ourselves.  I did find myself, however, complaining to a few parents and I regret that now.  I’m only human and I did do it.  I will say that my tiny bit of blabbering only occured when I was approached by others who noticed that my son wasn’t playing like they thought he should be.  There is something to be said about that mob or “group think” mentality.  When others are complaining, it becomes a bit contagious.  We must RESIST this.  It only hurts the program. Several  parents asked us if we were going to call and complain.  Our high school athletes are 15, 16, 17 and 18 years old.  They are old enough to handle this type of thing on their own.  We have never called a coach to complain about playing time.  We did, however, encourage our son to respectfully ask the coaches (at the appropriate time) how he could improve enough to get a chance to play.  I’m not exactly sure how the conversations went and my son is on the quiet side, so this was big for him.  He must have shown something in practice and he was given his chance.  He made the most of it and soon he was a starting player and contributor on the team.  It is extremely satisfying as a parent, to know that my son did it on his own with absolutely no help from me.

Being a superstar at the age of 9 or even 13 or 14, does not always transfer to the varsity level.  Sometimes athletes continue to develop, grow and improve as they enter high school and sometimes they do not.  Believe me, I know how important sports are in some families.  I’m a mom of three boys who all play sports.  We love competition.  We believe in it so much that we never even let our kids win at Candyland when they were toddlers!  Our lives revolve around our kids sports.  I get it.  We don’t go on vacations because of our kids practice schedules.  We’ve traveled on weekends and holidays for tournaments.  We eat in our car and go from one thing to the next.  You name it, we’ve done it.

I’m so thankful to have met so many great sports families.  I, along with my husband… we love to talk about strategy, players and opponents.  That is great fun, when kept respectful and humble and in perspective, people!

We must remember that our coaches (especially high school coaches) are dedicating a very large part of their lives to our athletes.  They sacrifice time with their families to be with our kids.  They do it because they love the game and they love our kids.  They are good people.  Is it possible that they make mistakes?  I’m sure any of them would tell you that they do.  Encourage your athlete to talk to his coaches.  “How can I improve?”, “What do I need to do?”.  “Can I get a tryout at ______ position?”.  “Can I challenge ______for his position?” These are respectful, good questions for your ATHLETE to ask his coach.

I think it’s also good to be reminded to act with integrity and class during all sporting events.  Please represent your school well by not degrading, jeering or yelling at opposing players, coaches and officials.  Trust me, it is embarrassing to both your child, their coaches and other parents.  Even if you are right, take a moment and think.  Just don’t do it.  Plus, it is my belief that championships are not won because of poor or biased officiating.  They are won by hardworking teams with a common goal.  Our kids learn from what they see us do and say.  Let your actions speak volumes by being a class act in the stands.

Many of you know our story and how we almost lost our middle son to a devastating stroke when he was 2.  It was touch and go for many days on life support and the ICU.  It was the darkest time of our lives.  Once we knew he was out of the woods, it wasn’t long before we wondered if he’d play sports.  There are a lot of serious things to consider when a child has a stroke.  We thought of all those things.  But, we soon thought about sports for our son.  Well, he is 14 now.  He has played and succeeded at every sport under the sun.  He played on the 7th and 8th grade school football and basketball teams.

Our son plays completely one handed and with a brace on his leg because the stroke left him paralyzed.  His smile when he is playing on the team is better than any MVP award or college sports scholarship.  Our son’s life helps us to keep it all in perspective.  We are over the moon that he is good enough to make the team.  We even pray for blowouts so he’ll get more playing time.  It’s more fun for us when our kid is on the court.  We get it!

Lastly, I know that we all know parents who would give anything….give it all up….they’d give up all the wins, all the awards, all the scholarships…if only they could.

A football star, who lost his legs in the war and then his life…taken too soon.

A team Captain…fighting brain cancer until he could fight no more.

A basketball superstar and the County Player of the year….who’s life came to a tragic end in his senior year of college.

Yes, I think their parents would probably give up all of those high school sports moments….every single bit of it to have… just one….just one more day with their child.

I encourage you to keep things in perspective.  Not every athlete is a superstar, a college prospect or a future professional athlete.  Enjoy their time on the team.  Do not have regrets about your own behavior.  Be positive, encouraging and supportive.

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31 Comments leave one →
  1. Jim Olekszyk permalink
    April 21, 2011 5:52 pm

    Well you seem to have a good perspective on this. It helps that your child has enough talent, drive, etc to play at this level and does get to play . If your kid is riding the bench and never seeing the field/floor, you might have a different view of it. You are right, the coaches are driven to win. That is the only thing that matters to most of them. Often, that drive is the thing that most upsets me with high school sports. I watch A LOT of high school sports(football mostly). I watch as Ike is up by 3 touchdowns with 10 minutes left and the starters are still in. Yeah, they earned the PT but so did the other 69 kids on the sidelines. The kids are not on the scout team but they are on THE team. Maybe they arent as big or fast or talented as a starter and might never get to that level but they still work just as hard. When i was a junior in HS, I was that kid on the bench. When we were up by 30 points, every click of that clock would just kill me cause I worked just as hard as everyone else but just didnt have the talent that they did . so yes the parents need perspective but the coaches need it also.
    I did however get bigger and stronger(unfortunately not faster) by my senior year and ended up starting and doing quite well. It is harder in basketball due to amount of people on floor but football should be easier to get kids on field. But I wont bitch about my kid not playing if I dont want to be the coach myself

    • sydnbey permalink
      April 16, 2013 10:11 am

      I like your perspective. Winning is not the only thing in HS sports. It is showing fairness and sportsmanship

      • December 7, 2016 7:08 pm

        Winning is everything when your spouse is the coach and he/she is expected to win to be able to keep his or her job. Don’t think anything different. Should it be? No. My husband has had some very talented teams, and some that had no talent at all. If he wins year after year, then gets a group with little or no talent, his head is on the chopping block. Do not judge unless one stands in the coaches shoes. I could go on forever about great coaches that have been reassigned because the talent simply wasn’t there.

  2. April 21, 2011 6:35 pm

    Hey Jim, Thanks for the post. I’m so excited that someone is actually reading this thing! I agree that if a team is winning by three touchdowns (wait, maybe four touchdowns?), the backups should get in. I do believe that our HS team does a decent job of this. Most of our games were close this year, so there were many times the starters played the whole game and the backups never got in. Football is the most difficult because there are no cuts. I think we had 80 kids on our roster this year. Keeping track of the kids and getting everyone in is quite the feat. My son did not begin the year as a starter…but eventually worked his way in. He did the same in basketball. He was asked to stay on the JV baseball team this year as a junior. Of course, as his mom, I think he was good enough for the varsity squad. But I’m his mom. I’m so biased. I could have gone crazy, lost it, complained, etc. He has always been an athlete….one of the better players on every team he’s ever been on. Mostly, I think I was disappointed for him. My son was actually fine with it, so I followed his lead. And I personally know the pain of not getting in the game. I was that athlete in HS as well. It did hurt, but the truth is, I just wasn’t good enough.

  3. Karen permalink
    April 22, 2011 8:24 am

    You go girl! Too bad we can’t publish this somewhere at the school:) Thanks for reminding us to always keep things in perspective!

  4. April 22, 2011 9:15 am

    Thanks Karen! I actually had a few more thoughts as I contemplated Jim’s post a bit more.

    I think at the Varsity level, most athletes know what their role will be prior to the season even starting. It is then that they can make the choice whether or not to go out for the team. Football especially, is a HUGE commitment. Working that hard every day in practice and then not getting in the games can’t be fun. Or can it? Obviously, there are many players who stay on their HS football teams because they want to be a part of it. When your team is trying to win a championship, there is no way around the playing time issue. There is still the camaraderie, wearing the jersey on game days, bus rides and the like. I do believe the players know what their roles are.

    My younger 14 year old has played competitive football for about 8 years. He had to try out for his 7th and 8th grade football teams. They keep about 40-45 players each. He ended up on the third string. He worked hard every day in practice. Lucky for him, his teams beat most of their competition by significant amounts. Enough to get him some decent playing time. He knew his role on the team and so did we as his parents. We cheered for the first string to run the score up just enough for our kid to get in. We loved those 5 minutes each game. And there were a few games where he didn’t see the light of day. Its way more fun when our kid gets in, but winning comes first….even at this level.

    As parents, we know that our 14 year old will most likely never see the field as a high school football player. We asked him a simple question. Would you like to continue to play football and probably not play much? Or would you rather focus on a sport that you might have a chance at really being competitive? That sport is tennis. My son LOVES tennis and it runs in the fall…just like football. His eyes lit up! YES, Tennis!! As parents, we are guiding him toward an opportunity. We would have supported him either way. We will miss football when he gets to HS….because there is nothing like football. But, we absolutely can’t wait for our son to PLAY tennis!

  5. April 22, 2011 9:25 am

    Nice job Patti!

    As a former coach and current parent of two boys that participate in a number of sports (and two girls that will likely start competing in school sports) I think you are right on.

    I think there are a lot of similarities between coaching and parenting. I think kids want coaches (and parents) that are:

    Fair – the best kids are going to play the most, but everyone should have opportunities to get on the court, diamond or field. And hard work and imporvement should be recognized.

    Consistent – they are predictable in their behaviors, actions and words.

    Clear – they let them know exactly what they are looking for or what they expect from their players.

    and most importantly…

    Love – Successful coaches need to communicate that they are coaching because they love their sport and the kids that are playing it.

    Their is a great book called “Season of Life.” It’s about a Coach named Joe Ehrmann – a former All-Pro defensive tackle from the Colts that now coaches high school football. He says that the coaches biggest job and responsibility is to love the players.

    He’s been named the most important coach in the country and has spoken to just about every NFL team.

    We like to give copies of this book to our son’s coaches whenever we can.

    http://www.amazon.com/Season-Life-Football-Journey-Manhood/dp/0743269748/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1303478464&sr=8-1

    Keep up the good work!

  6. April 22, 2011 10:57 am

    John, thanks for your insight. Just bought this book. Thanks for the suggestion. I look forward to reading it!!

  7. Jim Olekszyk permalink
    April 22, 2011 11:04 am

    One last thing. I am a huge believer that team sports help build charachter and are great in the development of kids. Yes there is something about being on the team, putting on the jersey, being on the team bus, etc but every kid wants to play. Its tough when you go home and dont have to wash your jersey. So no, working hard every day in practice every day and not playing isnt fun. As far as keeping track of the kids, that really isnt an issue. The position coaches usually send in the players anyway and they have a smaller pool to rembember. Yeah, a lot of kids know that they stink and are just happy with being there but most are not.
    Maybe they should have cuts but the money is too inviting(80 kids x$125.00, 80 families doing team fundraising, at least 160 extra people at the games every week x $5, etc). Plus it is impressive and intimidating when the other teams see all these kids running onto the field .
    Very nice job Patti. Enjoyed the topic.

  8. April 22, 2011 11:29 am

    Great points Jim! You have given me another idea for a post. Funding for school sports! Another very HOT topic. For another day 🙂

    You are making me think again…about playing time. Maybe you are referring to the kids who are “on the bubble” for playing time. Kids that have been used to more playing time in the past….or who are so close. Really good athletes…kids who would start for smaller schools. These are the kids for whom lack of playing time hurts the most. It is difficult and emotional. I think most parents over-estimate their own kid’s ability. I know I do. It’s normal and difficult to be objective. My husband is pretty good at keeping it real. He helps me keep it in perspective.

  9. April 22, 2011 12:22 pm

    And just to be clear. I completely agree that when the score is where it needs to be, that all the players should get in the game. Completely agree. When/if they don’t get in the game….that is a shame. My idea of where the score needs to be and where the coach thinks the score needs to be may differ. I have to believe that good coaches work very hard to get kids in the game in these situations. Do they always succeed? Maybe not. I have to believe that they are doing their best or I will lose faith in the goodness of people.

  10. May 20, 2011 12:34 pm

    In case anyone thinks I am trying to butter up all the coaches out there, be assured I am not. Players should not be given playing time because a parent has agreed with a coach or spoken highly of him or her. I will maintain that players should play based on talent alone. And of course, backups should get in when the score allows.

  11. May 24, 2011 11:37 am

    Just a quick update. I plan to post on this later. My 16 year old junior (the one who was asked to stay on the JV baseball team) was recently called up to the varsity team and is doing great. He is playing left field and is turning the diving catch into an artform. I am very pleased with how he has handled this season. He remained focused and calm the entire time on JV. I’m glad he doesn’t take after me 🙂 His mental toughness and ability to handle the request to stay on JV for awhile amazes me. He did not get discouraged or angry. He went out every day and did his job. He did it so well that he is now a regular, contributing member of one of the best HS baseball teams in the state.

  12. Brent permalink
    February 10, 2013 10:48 pm

    So What is the opinion on playing time at the junior high level?
    My daughter is 12 and has been playing traveling basketball since 3rd grade. Her traveling coaches(parents) have not given her the same opportunity to learn the game on the court as the starting 5. Now she has reached the 7th grade level and is playing for the school. The starting five are still the starting five and the 6-12 players are getting limited if not no playing time. The varsity coach takes the time to pull the starting 5 out of practice and run his own drills with them. Is this right? Should i be keeping my thoughts to myself? I would say that even without the extended playing time or the lack of coaching, that my daughter is about the 6th best player on the team but already has been weeded out by the varsity coach. What do I do? I might add this is a school with a total enrollment of 300 kids.

    • April 17, 2013 9:54 am

      Hi Brent, Thanks for you post. I apologize as somehow I did not see this come across until today. From our experience with three boys who have played Junior High Basketball for the school, 7th grade is the first year where winning is the goal. My youngest son was the 6th man this year and received good playing time. It is our experience that from 7th grade all the way through high school varsity, it is the top 7 or 8 players who get the playing time. The rest of the team hopes for a big enough lead in the game to get a few minutes here or there. This being said, things will change dramatically in the next few years. The starting 5 today probably will not be the same starting 5 next year or the next few years. Kids move out of the district, quit the sport, stop growing or whatever. I would encourage your daughter to keep working hard in practice and earn her minutes. I would also encourage her to ask the coach where she needs to improve. She can also let the varsity coach know she’d like to practice with her. The varsity coach might really like the initiative and include her next time. As the parent, I would try to stay out of it and let your daughter handle it. I do believ it is most frustrating for parents whose athletes are “on the bubble” like your daughter. This includes those athlete who just miss the starting rotation and also includes the athletes who just miss making the team altogether. We’ve experienced it all…oldest son who made it all the way to high school varsity captain, middle son who made team in 7th and 8th and then was cut in 9th and now the youngest who was the 6th man on 7th grade team. It can be very emotional at times, because nothing is better in sports than when MY kid is playing. It is so hard, but I encourage you to step back, take a breath and enjoy the ride. 6th man is a great place to be. Something to strive for and a pretty good shot of ending up on varsity one day with hard work, a good attitude and determination. Stick with it. I would also encourage additional sports. My middle, who did not make the freshman basketball team, started playing tennis, made the varsity as a sophomore, won a regional silver medal and won a match in round one play at the state tournament. It has been awesome. P.S. Our junior high and our high school are consistently one of the largest schools in the state of MI. So even some of the best athletes do not make our school teams. Some parents are as radical as to enroll their kids in smaller schools so their kids will have a better chance in sports.

  13. October 9, 2013 10:59 am

    This is just the best!

    • October 9, 2013 11:03 am

      How can I share this article on my facebook page?

    • October 9, 2013 12:39 pm

      Thank you for the kind words. You can share on FB, by highlighting the long address in your browser. Click on Control C. Then on your FB, in your status, click Control V. This will paste the article in your status and people will be able to open it up and read it. Thank you for sharing!

  14. Colleen permalink
    March 29, 2014 2:16 pm

    Question for you, my son is a freshman, the coach of the LAX team placed him on the Varsity team, but he gets no play time. The current goalie has 274 minutes of play time and my son 15 minutes. It is not like we are the winning team. We have lost more than we have won. Some games like last night was 11 to 3 — we were the three. Why would the coach not put in the back up goalie, so he too can get some play time. At 11 to 3 it is not like we are gonna pick up the remainder and win. So, what would you have to lose by putting in the back up goalie? Or when our team is winning by a landslide, in the last qtr why not put in the back up goalie, it is not like the team will lose. I do not understand the logic in not letting all kids given a shot, it is not like this is the Olympics or that there are talent scouts in the stadium. Come on it is High School sports. If you always bench the back up goalie, and that same goalie attends the JV games and the C games just to get the opportunity to play. I do not understand why place a freshman on Varsity if he is only going to stand on the sidelines.

    • March 29, 2014 3:38 pm

      Hi Colleen. Your point is SPOT ON. I have seen this happen a few times over the years. I, personally do not agree with it. My opinion is that your son should be playing on the JV or Freshman team and playing in every game. Some coaches believe that it is better to PRACTICE with the Varsity rather than PLAY in games with the JV. This is a fundamental difference in opinion. Let me restate. I do not agree with this philosophy. I also agree with you, that once the game is out of range (and this point spread may differ from coach to coach), that the backups should get in. I would encourage your son to have a conversation with his coach. If he will not be getting more minutes than he has received so far on varsity, he should respectfully ask to be placed on the JV team. He also needs to make sure that the JV coach will be sure to play him in upcoming games as I would guess he would be taking minutes away from a starting goalie on the JV team. Our son was moved up to the varsity football team as a sophomore, was about to be put into the rotation when he sprained a thumb and couldn’t play for a few days. He healed quickly and asked to be placed back on the JV team. We were shocked when the JV Coach did not play him in the JV games. He was thought enough of, that they brought him up to varsity. And then when they sent him back to JV, he doesn’t get playing time??? This was a case of being lost in the shuffle of a very large program, and being a quiet kid. After about 3 weeks, he finally got in and led the team in rushing yards. It was one of the more frustrating seasons in all our years in HS sports. Good Luck and Keep us posted on how things work out.

      • Colleen permalink
        March 29, 2014 3:57 pm

        Thank you, agreed, play JV it is better to play the game than not to play the game, Varsity is just a title. A title is not everything. So very frustrating and I just do not want him to get discouraged, We have told him (my son) to be patient his time will come. In my opinion, a working experience opinion. One would need to train the back up, just in-case. If the back up is not trained then what would happen if the main person not there? Thank you for your opinion, I very much appreciate it. My daughter did swimming in HS and everyone on the team participated. Other sports much different. It is much more fun to play than not to play.

  15. Sue permalink
    October 2, 2014 1:32 pm

    This may be a long post…sorry! I have been so frustrated for the past 2 days about this topic that I did an internet search just to see what others had to say. My 15 year old son has played soccer since 3rd grade. He is a starting midfielder on his club team. He attends a parochial high school and the past 2 years he tried out for the team and made the varsity….there is no JV team as there weren’t enough younger players to field a team. So last year his coach approached me to tell me that he has skill but don’t expect a lot of play since he’s only a Freshman. There were a total of 5 freshman on the team and 2 were placed in the starting lineup. One of those boys attended the soccer camp where the HS coach worked and the other boy’s father is friends with the athletic director. (No politics there!). I lived with the situation last year as I thought since the team was graduating 7 seniors, my son might get considerably more playing time this year. Not so….of the 5 freshman from last year, they all made the team again and only one more of them was added to the starting lineup. Okay, that’s fine, he’s a good player so I can deal with it. So here’s my issue…I get that it’s all about winning, but when there is still no score 20 minutes into the 2nd half, when the starters have been running back and forth on a very large soccer field for an hour and are clearly showing fatigue, don’t you think a set of fresh legs and a short break for the starters would benefit the team? I know my son’s ability and he is more than capable to sub for any of the starters. I should also mention that there is a $400 player fee to be on the team each year in addition to new uniforms at $75 for the past 2 years, not to mention the incidentals like money to order deli sandwiches for the bus rides to/from away games, money to purchase pink socks and t shirts to support breast cancer awareness, etc, etc. I’m into this for over $1000 for 2 years. I don’t need my son to have the “experience” of being on the team…he’s been doing that since 3rd grade. I go to every home and away game not just hoping to see my son play, but to support the team as well. I know his time will come and I will keep my mouth shut and support him and encourage him and all that good stuff, but it’s just very frustrating. End of vent! Thanks!

    • October 11, 2014 3:59 pm

      I completely understand your frustration. It has been 3 years since my original post and I am delighted that people are still reading it. My oldest son who always received starting playing time in three varsity sports is now a junior in college. He was injured in football his senior year resulting in 5 surgeries, many complications and was not able to finish the football season, play basketball or baseball that year. We were devastated, as we believe he would be playing one of the three sports in college…he was that good. Our middle son, is now a senior and has managed to earn a spot on the varsity tennis team for three straight years. He earned First Team all County as a junior. He is an athlete with a physical disability who competes and wins against his able bodied competitors. He is also a current member of the 2014 U.S. Junior National Para Table Tennis team and is traveling the world in attempt to make the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio. He had minimal playing time in football as an eighth grader and made the choice to switch to tennis. He played basketball on the school teams all the way thru 8th grade and was cut his freshman year. It was devastating for us…basketball was his favorite sport and his passion. He moved on and we followed his lead. Our youngest son plays three sports (football, basketball and baseball). Now in his 9th grade year, he is experiencing a very low amount of playing time on the freshman football team. It is not as fun for sure to be a part of the team and not play much. Do we think he should play more? Maybe. Should he be a starter? We don’t know. Politics? No. We are leaving it up to him. Be a part of the football team next year and see if he can earn more playing time, or make a change. Being a parent of athletes can be VERY emotional, as well as some of the most fun you will ever have. It has huge ups, and some very low lows. What we have learned as parents of three very active, yet unique athletes, is to enjoy what they ARE doing. Do coaches sometimes make mistakes and play the wrong players? I’m sure they do….sometimes. But evaluating players is subjective. SOOO much goes into it. Athleticism, speed, strength, instinct for the game, intelligence, character, assertiveness, future potential and MORE. It just isn’t black and white. Do we agree with all the decisions our coaches make? Of course not. Are there some inefficient coaches out there? I’m sure. Do our kids sometimes get the short end of the stick? Yep. Sport is a great metaphor for LIFE. The lessons our kids learn from playing (or not playing) will benefit them always. Trust me, as a parent, I’ve been very emotional over my kids playing time, position, etc. But, having the benefit of many years on my side and two of my sons being seriously injured and their injuries affecting their lives let alone their sports “careers”, it helps me keep it all in perspective. Support your child in their decision….keep trying to earn playing time, switch sports, try a new coach. It’ll all work out in the end. Good Luck!

  16. Melissa Craddock permalink
    October 11, 2014 12:32 pm

    I’ve enjoyed reading these comments! While I do understand every aspect mentioned here, my situation is somewhat different…We have 3 star football players, one of them failed a random drug test. He still got to play and now just got moved up from freshman to varsity team. My theory is why make rules at all if they don’t apply to whole team? this is very frustrating to say the least. My son always gets “garbage time”, he plays noseguard as a back up im assuming. Nonetheless, because of whats happened this year, I have spoken to other parents, and they are possibly transferring. Ive actually considered it. Not real sure I want my son playing on a team that doesn’t have integrity.

  17. October 11, 2014 4:04 pm

    If you believe there is a lack of integrity or if you believe coaches are breaking district or state rules, I would check into reporting these alleged practices. You could start with contacting your District Athletic Director. If it is truly that bad and nothing is being done about it, then I agree with the decision to transfer.

  18. Nora permalink
    December 8, 2014 12:30 am

    I began by reading your article and I saw the playing time issue from another perspective. I’m a senior soccer player. The thing is I’m not a bad player, I’m a great player. There are only 4 seniors on the team. two of us play, two of us don’t. I am a senior captain, but I don’t start. I have multiple college coaches scouting me at this time, and I intend on playing in college. My club team is one of the highest ranked teams in the state. I see about 10 minutes on the field if we are not playing a district game. If it is a district game, I only see the field if we are winning. I’m not the fastest player, but I have good vision, I am aggressive, I have a good touch. While, I don’t tend to take on players, I do have nice crisp passes. I listen to directions. Coach complements me but never plays me on the field. Freshmen start the game, They are not even good. Out of the two freshmen on the team, the worst one plays. The only reason they are on the team is because, she scored a goal in the first game, against a terrible team. The only reason she scored the goal, was because she was faster than the defense. Even my brother agrees that the freshmen playing my position sucks, he is a brutally honest boy. I know my skill level and putting me in the game, isn’t going to make us lose, honestly the play would go up. I am angry, and have a hard team respecting any decision made by the coach. I think of quitting everyday because I’m not on the team to be a Scout player. I’m on the team to play against the best teams in the city, to kick ass, and to be a play maker. Talk to my coach? yeah, I did that. Gave me nothing, not tips on how to improve my game. Just apologized then didn’t give me more playing time. THERE IS A PROBLEM IN SOME HIGH SCHOOL WITH PLAYING TIME!!

    also, one time he yelled at the seniors for not crying and being depressed after we lost a game. Well… two of the seniors did not even play. Why should we be sad?? we had nothing to do with the loss. We were just waiting to go in the game. Maybe, today will be our shot?

    Sorry to vent!

    • January 15, 2015 1:57 pm

      Hello! I completely understand your frustration. I apologize…I somehow missed your comment when it was originally sent. We have a chain of command of sorts at our school if a player has questions about playing time. First, the player approaches his/her coach. If you have not received sufficient information about your lack of playing time, then a parent may reach out to the coach. I suggest doing this by phone and not email. Email comes across as angry (which I know you already are) and you want to start off by asking for information. Be specific. What am I doing (or not doing) that is resulting in player x getting time ahead of me. It may be difficult to hear and you may not agree with the information. If you are still not satisfied, you could request a meeting with your coach, your parents, the school athletic director and the principal. This would be your last resort if you feel you are being treated unfairly. It is hard to prove as all the coach needs to say is that you are not good enough. You may want to consider just playing with your club team and moving on to a college team. Some coaches aren’t great. Based on your account (and without hearing the coach’s side), you may have one of the poorer ones.

  19. Sports Mom of 3 permalink
    January 15, 2015 12:46 pm

    I do agree that the best players should get the starting positions, but we are a small school We have a total of 11 girls on the Varsity Basketball team. Our coach will only play 6 of the girls on the team. The rest of our girls sit on the bench and do not get a single second of playing time. The 6 that get to play are so tired by the 4th period that they can barely stand. The coach does not believe in substitution, basically he is in to win. When the girls lose he yells at them that they don’t play as a team, but yet he doesn’t play them as a team. I do believe that the other girls get to play, doesn’t have to be more that a minute or 2. I think that their should be a rule that states all players should be able to play. My daughter is a Senior that has played since she was in the 7th grade, she is also one that hasn’t got any playing time. It would be different if our team was winning, but we aren’t. This is when I believe other rules should be in place.

  20. V castelyin permalink
    January 17, 2016 11:44 am

    As parents of competitive HS athletes we all know how blessed we are ,… for injuries happen all too often and are Devasting to the entire family. However , you wrote your article as a Monday morning quarterback …. Your son became a starter and so its all ok in your book now— that’s the bottom line. No matter how you want to word it your opinion was changed because your son got the position and playing time he worked so hard at- the end.

    • January 17, 2016 12:30 pm

      Thanks so much for reading! And posting! It has been 5 years since my original post. You may have a valid point regarding my oldest son. He did earn starting positions. But, while he was earning those positions, we as his parents never claimed politics or bad coaching. It was not easy. It was frustrating. We were approached daily by other parents who said we should be complaining. We never did. It worked out for our son. He was finally seen for his talent. The problem becomes, when parents of less talented players take over, approach the coach, and even higher up the chain of command, demanding their kid get playing time. I think that’s the real point I’m trying to make. It’s those parents who think their kid is a superstar when he is not. Curious if you have read all the comments and our replies. Our youngest son is now a sophomore. He switched from football, where he was getting minimal playing time, to varsity tennis and loved it. Plays JV basketball and fights for playing time. Was cut from freshman baseball. It’s the most fun when we are watching our kid play (not sitting the bench). But at the high school level, all bets are off. We hear every day how coaches play the kids they like or the ones whose parents are “in the coaches ear”. I still don’t believe it. They play the kids who they believe will win the game. Maybe there are some who play the ones whose parents they like and risk losing the game. But then, how long will they be the coach? Records speak volumes. If the coach has a winning record, it’s hard to dispute his decisions regarding playing time. I guess if the coach can still win games without playing the best players, then it gets hard to prove. It’s a fascinating topic with many, many layers.

  21. Dad permalink
    December 9, 2016 3:26 pm

    We have a situation where the local private comp league is run by 2 of the managing high school coaches. Incoming freshman atheletes from their comp league go to the JV team. By merit, most are legitimately better than the other incoming freshman. The others, mostly from ref leagues, usually end up on the freshman team.

    The JV team seasonally is made up with about 75% incoming freshman. Then, the next season, the JV players are either selected to advance to the varsity team or dropped from the program, in favor of the next crop of incoming freshman from their comp league, whether the incoming freshman are better than the players they are displacing or not.

    Our kid was one of the only ones from rec leagues and from the freshman team that made it to the JV team.

    Point is, they are using the JV team to nurture/ cultivate players they believe will excel, based on their experience with them, whether they are better than the players they are displacing or not.

    That throws another wrinkle into this.

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