Several days ago, I came across your
website after weeks of searching for something like this. I have
now read almost every letter and article, on the site, present and past.
I congratulate you for your knowledge and hard work, in being able to
identify all the problems in youth sports! My husband and I would
love to meet you in person. If you plan on any speaking
engagements in my area, please let us know.
The discovery of your website came
after our documentation of a very negative experience for our 10 year
old son, who played flag football in our local athletic league.
To Rene (see "Ask The Coach") and all other
parents: I spoke with my head coach the very first and second practice
to inform him that my son had never played flag football, and did not
understand the game. I wanted him to understand this, so that he
would not have unrealistic expectations for my son, and perhaps could
work with him at his level.
This was the beginning of our
communication. However sad to say, there was never any effort made on
his part or by the assistant coaches to work within this context. After
the first game, it was quite obvious that these coaches cared only about
the winning of the games at the expense of the 3 weakest players. My
husband and I engaged our head coach, Vice-President of the league and
team sponsor in many conversations about the fact that our child was
playing only 25% of the game, while 4 players played 100% and 1 player
played 98-99% (5 in total). Worse yet, was that the inferior
players were expected to stand at attention at the sidelines, watching
their teammates engaged in play 100% of the time having fun, and while
given the assignment of running the written plays in and out of the
huddle and then back to the sidelines to watch. Each and every
conversation was about the extreme disproportionate amount of playing
time given to the players, and the emphasis on winning. And each and
every time (a minimum of 7 conversations and one letter, we were told
things would change.)
They changed a little. These three
players now played "almost" 50%, while the others continued to
play 100%. These three players had a minimum number of plays designed
for them in each game as well - maybe one or two, if lucky. Most of the
time, when on the field you would see these youngsters, standing on the
field like a "sign-post", doing nothing, because of the
position they were instructed to play. This affected my child's
self-esteem deeply, who now felt like a failure, and in the eyes of the
talented players, was labeled an inferior player. My son repeatedly
asked to be put into the game, and was ignored. But the fact that we
were now critiquing our coaches, infuriated them, and definitely had
even a stronger impact on our child in the way he was treated.
My husband and I went a little
further than Rene. We documented our phone calls, which I refer to in my
final eight page packet. We also documented the exact amount of playing
time that my son played, after several informal conversations (because
we were being ignored), by listing the time he went on the field and off
the field, in one game, with the total amount of playing time, which was
barely 25%. This angered them even more. "How dare we document,
after the second game." We also took the Rules and
Regulations of Flag Football, and quoted directly from them (6 quotes to
I received no response to this
letter, which was hand-delivered after our second game. We wrestled with
the idea of pulling our son off the team and finally came to the
1. There was nothing positive to be gained by leaving our son on this
team. It was affecting his self-esteem, negatively.
2. We had done our share of communicating our desires, with the
coach, sponsor and Vice-President and did this within the context of the
league's rules and regulations, but to no avail.
3. That if we continued to force our son to participate on this team,
that we, as parents, should be cited for child abuse.
4. That we had done exactly what every parent should do for their child,
in a respectful manner, except, to remove him sooner from this
We sent a letter of resignation, and
then an eight page document to the President, VP, and Commissioner
containing our documentation, as well as to the Mayor and City Council
Members in our town, for you see, even though this league is a private
organization, it is being played on "city property." And
coincidentally on the very same day I sent this packet out, there was an
article in the newspaper, about an assistant coach from this league who
had attacked a youngster with a baseball bat (not during a game), and
the fact that this league does no background checks on its coaches. This
man is a convicted felon. The city is now implicated in this as
well, because the league uses city property. I think most parents
assume that the city sanctions, supports, or regulates these leagues,
when they are run on city property.
The packet contains seven
recommendations for improving this league, one of which includes
mid-year season evaluations and end of season surveys to be filled out
by parents, as to their satisfaction with this league. The next day I
mailed to them, your website and two articles "Isn't It Time We Did
and "Equal Playing Time For All."
To your readers:
1. Document your communication by keeping a running log, with
dates, times, names. Put it in writing when possible.
2. You are your child's advocate! Communicate as often as you feel a
need to do so.
3. Try to get your organization to improve, by requesting surveys
(results should be made public to parents), by frequent visitations from
commissioners, proper training and recruitment of coaches. If quality
coaches are not available limit the number of participants.
4. If this is no longer a positive experience for your child, and
you have tried everything, remove them from the team immediately, before
more damage is done.
I appreciate the time you have taken
to read this. I did not mean to put in so much detail, but you can see
how upsetting this has been.
A concerned parent