School sports are fairly simple. You make the Varsity, great. You make the JV that’s OK also. But then there are those that get cut. With tight budgets, most school systems have given up on Freshmen Teams as the travel is way too expensive. Most parents consider their children collateral damage because they have played this sport or that one for years and “how could they get cut?”
Far too many parents have come to realize the true meaning of collateral damage when it comes to their own child. Club teams, Travel Baseball/Softball, AAU Basketball, Pop Warner Football and of course Youth Soccer routinely and without the least bit of forethought dismiss coaches, change coaching directors, and in general do as they please with parents hard earned money in the name of what is best for the children.
Far too often a coach will become very popular with the team he/she is coaching and the players love them. They play hard, they want to achieve for “their coach” and the parents like him/her also. Suddenly, without warning, the Club Administration decides to remove the coach. Oh My GOD you say, what did he do? Actually he asked to be paid for what he was doing, or he may not have done that, but the Administration feels he is getting too powerful and before he leaves and takes the team with him, they fire him. The reasons given to the parents range in scope. “He didn’t fit into our plans for the future.” “We have found another coach that will take the team to the next level.” “He doesn’t fit into the club goals any longer.”
The players and most parents are devastated, and there are never any answers given to the questions asked. All too often the Coach leaves and does take a good amount of the players with them. This creates yet another problem. Players who have been together are no longer together, and the players left behind with another coach always feel like they abandoned their old coach. The Administration has the parents money, and they are looking for the next young coach who will work for cheap, as they prepare to put another set of players with the players that are left.
The coach that leaves, and takes however many players with them and begins a new with a different organization, hoping that everything will be different. It usually never is. Sadly, no one, including the coach considers the kids. Most of the time the coach has no choice but to leave and find another club, and really can’t control the situation. Parents on the other hand want what is best for their children and are given misinformation from Coaching Directors, Club Presidents and other parents. So, what is a parent to do in this case, which happens all too often?
Parents do have more control then they think. Below is a list of solutions to the problem:
1. Don’t accept a large down payment and a payment plan that is paid in full by Jan. of the next year. This is how clubs keep you “hooked.” You have the power as Clubs today need players. Demand a monthly payment that you can get out of at any time without further obligation. Good Clubs won’t mind that as they know they have a good product.
2. Demand to have a say in the hiring and firing of the coach. Make it your decision as a group rather then one of the Administration. Unless of course the Administration finds something out about the coach that would be harmful to your child.
3. Make sure there is 3-5 parents who will speak to the Club’s Administration in regards to Tournaments, games, and expenses.
4. Be aware what the competition is doing. Check with other clubs in your area, check with the State organization to make sure what your club is doing is accepted behavior.
Do not let your child be collateral damage. Over 4 million children play soccer in the United States between the ages of 5-18, and Millions more play Baseball, Football, Basketball and Hockey. By age 14 over 50 % of those players quit. See my next column, “Game Over, why kids quit.”
Howie “Coach” Thompson
Author: Fat Harold The Legendary King of Shag,
And The Bands Played On…The History of Beach Music
Fitness Coordinator, Author & Inspirational Speaker
“What we do in life echoes in eternity”