This isn’t little league, recreational teams, or biddy ball anymore. There’s no more “ice cream on me if we win”or grabbing a random parent from the bleachers to fill in when the umpire doesn’t show up. This is high school, and it is supposed to be competitive. However, when a parent of a player on the team somehow wiggles into the head coaching position, a lot of that competitive nature is lost and ends up having a negative impact on the rest of the team. It is simply just unfair.
Parent coaches can say, “I won’t favor my child” or “I’m honestly harder on them than anyone” all they want. It doesn’t change a thing because the truth of the matter is that nepotism will be inevitable and whether it is intentional or not, it has a lasting effect on the other players.
Parents have a natural admiration for their child that makes them see him/her as better, more deserving, or more hard-working than they may be. This is by no means that parent’s fault; it is only natural to support your own. However, this kind of thinking for someone in a coaching position results in favoring that child in regards to playing time, attitude, and treatment. They have a desire to watch their child compete and analyze their every move, and that takes attention away from other players that are lookingto prove themselves. Of course they are going to start their own kid or put them in the position they want. Whether or not that player “deserves” a starting spot is irrelevant because if they did not start them, it would otherwise cause conflict between the player and his or her parent and put a strain on their personal relationship (which no parent wants.) This kind of emotional struggle clouds the judgment of the coach and makes for a poor atmosphere.
In addition to how being a parent-coach would affect judgement, it also has an effect on the attitude of their child who is playing. These athletes tend to see themselves as “above” or privileged in comparison to the other players. They assume their position is guaranteed (because why wouldn’t it be?) and come off as arrogant to teammates. These kinds of attitudes are reflections of how the coach views them and the thoughts they develop from having such a special relationship with their coach. On the other hand, the player can sometimes have trouble separating their personal relationship and their sports relationship with that parent and may purposely or accidentally cause issues such as unprofessionalism, inappropriate behavior, and following instructions.
Now, the people who are affected by this odd coaching dynamic the most are undoubtedly the other players on the team and their parents. Speaking from the perspective of an athlete who has played for a teammate’s parent, it can be awkward, intimidating, and downright frustrating. I once played for a coach whose child played the same position as I did. I knew there was no chance of my being considered for that position over their child, so I finally just stopped trying. I once played for a coach who started his/her child in a game over all my friends and me the day after the coach’s child returned from an injury. Personal preference makes earning anything on a team nearly impossible. Breaking the rules for one person and no one else contradicts precedents that have been set for everyone.
This is high school. Parents should not be coaching high school teams with their child playing for them. Biased opinions don’t make anyone better, and putting everyone else in an uncomfortable situation for the sake of one player is utterly selfish and completely unacceptable.
Written by Alyssa Blackman
The views expressed in this editorial do not necessarily reflect those of the school district, the advisor, the Administration, or the newspaper staff. The author takes responsibility for her own viewpoints.