Another response to Parents and Playing Time

One of our more popular and oft-read articles, Parents and Playing Time, drew the attention of the parents of a high school girls volleyball player. Below is the email they sent in:

I came across your site when I google searched “Tips for parents dealing with other parents that complain about playing time”

In my situation I’m not the coach, but a parent of an athlete.  I will however say that my wife and I are former athletes that played at a high level and into college.  We’ve also coached in the past so to sum it up…”we get it”.  Our philosophy is “The coach is the coach and we are fans”.   Having said that, we’re now in a situation with our daughter’s team where a group of rogue parents are planning an attack to have our coach fired.  Playing time is their entry point to the athletic director, but I can see through the smokescreen to see that they have deeper intentions.

While they will complain about playing time of their kids or their kids playing out of position, their deeper intention is to ultimately try to get the coach fired so that they can make a push to get their coach of choice hired (their club coach) and get their kids into the positions they want them in.  This statement has been observed personally  by my daughter and other players and parents on multiple occasions who’ve overheard those parents and even their children boasting about it.  Unfortunately one of the positions being disputed is one that my daughter plays and she could very well be adversely impacted which is tough for me to witness.

I’ll go on record to say that their children are talented, but so is my daughter.  What sets them apart is:

  • Work ethic/effort
  • Attitude

My daughter puts forth great effort every day (in practice, classroom, conditioning, etc.), is coachable, respectful to the coach/parents/teammates/opponents/referee’s/etc.  We are parents that don’t run to coach when she sits when not performing well in games or has to miss a practice for illness.  These are all statements from the coach to us about our daughter not our own words.  I will say that this does not surprise us though b/c that’s what we teach our daughter.  As a sophomore she’s a 2nd year varsity player and a co-captain this year. (that’s another issue these parents seem to have b/c their children are upperclassmen)

Having outlined above, I’m at a loss as to how to properly go about handling this personally.  If I were the parent of those children, my approach would be (and has been) to encourage my child to reflect and work on their mistakes, work harder, be coachable, respectfully ask the coach what they can do to improve and if they can honestly look themselves in the mirror and say they’ve done all of those things then it may be time to accept that others are simply better or more deserving.  They are not taking this approach.

As a parent of a child who could very well be impacted by this situation, how do I handle it?  Do I still take your advice and let this play itself out and be a life lesson for her or do you feel it’s reasonable to also have a discussion with the AD about this matter in support of the coach?  Approach it in a very tactful and matter of fact tone to bring awareness of this situation and then hope he will do what he feels is the right thing.  I don’t claim to know whether the coach is good or not.  Although I understand the game of Volleyball, I don’t claim to know everything…especially when it comes to how the game should be coached.

Sorry for the novel, but I found your article to be directly in-line with my way of thinking.  The only problem is it addresses the situation from a coaches perspective.  How would you advise another parent who’s battling this type of situation?

We asked for more background and sent along this article because of the similarities:

I’m not qualified to say our coach is or is not a good coach.  Likewise it’s very possible that this coach those parents are trying to “set the stage” for is a great coach.  My issue is the method of attack those parents are engaging in and the fact that I and many other parents/players can clearly see that their children don’t work hard or have a good attitude.  Our kids have to walk a thin line too b/c a few (not all) of the problematic girls are African American and would not hesitate to pull the race card out at any time (I hate to reference that point, but it’s very much in play here).  I think our coach is passionate (definitely not a bully) about winning and developing a program that can be successful long term and produce players that go on to do good things in life (build strong work ethic and character).  My wife and I do not associate with her outside of saying the occasional hello and talking with her if there is a concern with our daughter.

Furthermore, in this case their children do get playing time.  It’s volleyball so there is a rather frequent rotation and substitution pattern.  No one plays the entire match, but some get more court time and some get less, but in large everyone does play.  The issue these parents seem to have is that their kids are either not playing as much as they think they should or not playing a position they think they  should be playing.

The scary part in all of this is that the lady leading the charge is the mother of a player that gets a lot of playing time and is positioned appropriately for her size and skill.  Again, she’s a talented player, but could have a better attitude, but that’s a moot point.  The scary part that I mention is that this lady is a high ranking administrator in the school district who happens to be African American and is using her power on behalf of the parents that have the actual issue.  They don’t carry much weight with them and likely (would) be chalked up to being disgruntled.   Honestly speaking, I believe this lady knows their ignorance would get in their way and stop them in their tracks because I see no reason she should have an issue with the coach other than the coach addressing the girls attitude.

Did not include this earlier, but I think are more relevant points to share.

Sorry for the 2nd chapter, but hopefully it’s helpful in allowing you to see the overall scope of my concern.  I want to do the right thing, but not sure what the right thing to do is exactly.  This is a very murky situation IMO.

Obviously a thoughtful email and interesting predicament. What would you suggest? We’ll post our response tomorrow.