COMMENTARY: Grown-ups Acting Like Kids?

EDITOR'S NOTE: The following letter was received via e-mail from someone who identifies themselves as the parent of a local youth football player. We are redacting information which would directly identify any of the parties involved, but publishing the letter with the hope that doing so might bring some resolution to the situation.

I am a parent of a boy that plays on the (XX-XX) year old football team in Cannon County. My son has played with this organization for several years now and instead of problems being resolved they only seem to be getting worse.

I understand that football is a sport and the object is to try and win games but at what cost? There are kids that sit on the sidelines at every game begging to play only to be ignored and the same thing happens at practices.

Now from what I understand this league was formed several years ago with the intent of introducing the kids of Cannon County to the sport of football and to teach kids at a younger age so that they would be better prepared when they started playing for the middle school and high school teams. But if the kids are just sitting on the sidelines, what are they learning?

Now I am very familiar with how a team sport works and I fully understand that some kids are better than others and will get more playing time than some but what if one of your star players gets hurt, what are you going to do then because the other boys are not going to understand what they are supposed to do if they get to go onto the field and will be extremely intimidated because they have not been out there before.

And before you blow this off thinking that I am just an upset parent of a kid that stands on the sidelines, I am not, my son plays a majority of the games but has been on the other side before and yes as a parent it is upsetting but I explained to him that when you are new you have to stand on the sidelines and watch what is going on and you will get your turn.

But it seems like for some of these kids their turn will not come and when you try to speak to the coaches about it they either ignore you or put the blame off onto a different coach and say that they are not in charge.

I understand that these men take time away from their jobs and their families to spend time coaching these kids and every parent should be grateful for this, I know I am, but when they decided to be coaches they knew what they were agreeing to take on and this should not be thrown up in a parents face when they attempt to speak to them.

Also, when you put yourself into that position you should know that at some point you are going to have to deal with a few upset parents and should be able to conduct yourself with some sort of dignity, even if the parents cannot do the same. The men that are coaching all have kids on the team and their kids are not the ones sitting on the sidelines so they do not understand where these parents are coming from. Everybody had to pay the same amount of money to sign their child up and each child should get the same amount of attention.

Now Saturday night at our game there were at least 9 kids on our team that did not get to play a single minute of the game even though 2 players were hurt and asked to come off the field but were told no and to get back into their positions. One of the coaches finally noticed this when there was 1 minute left on the play clock in the fourth quarter and told the kids that had not been on the field to raise their hands.

These poor boys stood there with their hands raised and 2 of them got to go onto the field only to be sent right back off by the 2 coaches on the field. This was the breaking point for several parents and one man finally decided to say something to the coaches and he was told to shut up because he was not a coach.

Another man started cursing at the coaches, which I agree should not be done in front of the children, and that's when the head coach, (name witheld), decided to pay attention to this and told the man he would have him escorted out if he did not stop and the man said that was fine because he was leaving.

At this point, he started arguing with several other parents about the way he coaches his team. He said that he fielded the best 11 kids on his team and that he was there to try and win and that anybody that did not like it could take their kid and leave.

One woman asked him who he answered to because she wanted to make a complaint about him and he said nobody and that he made all the rules.  He also stated that these kids only sign up to play football because of him and because they want to win.

Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news but if that was the case than (name withheld) and (name withheld) would not have a single child on the team because they have won 2 games in the last 2 years and have a losing season so far and if they were coaching on the college or professional level they would have been fired by now.

But the point is they are not on that level, they are dealing with very impressionable boys and at this age they should be teaching them fundamentals and if they happen to win then that is just a bonus.

I have been at every practice and every game since my son has started playing and so far the only thing that I have seen that these men have taught them are winning is everything, poor sportsmanship, and that if your dad is not a coach then you will be standing on the sidelines.