PARENTS V. COACHES: Still the Biggest Issue in Youth and Amateur Sports Today – and Getting Worse

If there is one trend in youth and amateur sports that continues to rise in this country, it’s the issue of more and more HS coaches leaving the ranks. No matter where you live, whether it’s in New York, California, Texas, Florida, Maine, or any of the states in between, the rate at which HS coaches are resigning their jobs has become an alarming epidemic.

What’s the reason for the mass exodus?

The answer is pretty simple.

Parents.

Whereas a generation or two ago, parents rarely interfered with their kid’s coaches in HS, nowadays it has become just the reverse. Whether it’s because parents feel that they have invested so much time and energy and money into their child’s athletic career, the last thing they want to encounter is a HS coach who doesn’t share the same enthusiasm for that kid as his or her parents do. That is, the HS coach may want to have the kid play a different position, or doesn’t feel that he or she should be a captain, or that even the youngster hasn’t done enough to be a starter.

Whatever the reason is, if a parent doesn’t feel that their youngster is being coached properly, or being touted enough, or not getting enough playing time, then the coach is going to hear about it. And Heaven help the coach who happens to employ a coaching style which is loud or verbally tough; you do that enough these days, and you run the risk of being brought up on charges of being a bully. And that’s a serious accusation these days in our schools.

So what happens? As if the coach didn’t have enough on one’s plate to not only develop all the players on the team, put together solid practice regimens, plan out game strategies, and then try and win the games, the coach also has to prepare to deal with Moms and Dads who seem to feel that their youngster should be the epicenter of the team.

In my years of dealing with youth sports issues, I have to confess that this one singular topic has consistently become the most difficult AND the most precarious. That is, as a competitive sports nation, we really need to come to grips with what’s right for our kids and their coaches.

DO WE ELIMINATE HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS?

As I asked on my WFAN radio show this AM, have we reached a point where we should just give up on traditional HS sports and just go to a club system, like they have in Europe? That is, we here in the US can save a lot of money by not offering HS sports programs for our kids PLUS coaches wouldn’t have to put up with parents because there would no longer be HS sports teams.

Instead, kids who are athletic could play on outside club or travel teams (which, of course, are paid for by the parents). But there, if a Mom or Dad has a problem with the coach, then they would have the right to complain because the coach is being paid by the parents. And if the parent doesn’t feel a solution is possible, then the kid can leave that team and try to play for another club team.

This is how it works overseas, although please note that in an article in the New York Times, it’s pointed out that kids as young as 10 or 11 who, after playing on a soccer club team for a years, might suddenly find themselves cut or let go because the coach no longer feels that the kid is progressing properly, or doesn’t project to be a star.

It’s got to be very, very tough to be cut before one even reaches adolescence, and you can just imagine what the parents go through. But that’s the price to be paid with club teams, and as noted, this is routine business overseas.

So what’s the best solution for the United States? In truth, I don’t know. But I do know this. We need to come together and try and figure out a national game plan. Too many HS coaches, who are paid perhaps a few thousand dollars for 10 weeks of 24/7 work, are throwing in the towel – not because of the stress of working with kids – but because of the stress of dealing with the kid’s parents.

Lots of callers agreed this AM that something needs to be done. And to that end, if you have thoughts or suggestions, please let me know by posting your thoughts.

Ultimately, the victims in all of this are not so much the coaches or the parents who have high expectations, but the youngsters who have to live though all of this.