Sport Psychology Case Study: When Dad Speaks Out, Should Kid Pay the Price?
Last week an Arizona youth sports dad called out his son’s youth football league for playing favorites (he called “ringers”), only to learn that upon hearing the news the league kicked his son off the team. You can read the entire story here.
When I teach sport psychology and sport sociology courses, I regularly introduce scenarios like this to the class to encourage in-class discussion around rules, morals, ethics, and socially appropriate behaviors. This story is particularly interesting, if for no other reason than seeing a 9-year old boy lose his spot on the team because of his dad’s actions. In previous similar cases that I have read, it has not been uncommon for a league to ban a parent for this kind of behavior, but this is the first time I have seen a kid pay the price for his parent’s actions.
There are a number of questions I would be interested in hearing your opinion regarding, including:
1. Do you agree with the sports league removing a kid from a team because of comments his dad made?
2. Should the dad have spoken up when he felt his son was being discriminated against (apparently his son played the whole season only to be replaced by more talented kids added to the team for the post-season). Dad’s position was that his son helped the team go undefeated and felt it was unfair for kids to be replaced after having a perfect season.
3. Should youth sports leagues allow “ringers” (athletically talented kids) to join teams only for the post-season, essentially nullifying the need for the kids who played all season?
4. How might this situation have been handled better?
It’s completely understandable that some youth sports league directors have had enough with unrealistic parents over the years, so it’s not surprising that this league made what appears to be a knee-jerk reaction in penalizing a nine-year old kid for his dad’s actions. At the same time, this story, if taken on the surface, certainly would prompt a lot of parents to express similar concern about their kid being replaced in the post-season by talented kids who weren’t even a part of the regular season team. Should dad have taken to social media and called out the coach? Maybe, maybe not — but it’s certainly understandable why he became so upset.
I’ll be curious your thoughts on this story, and if you have ever been a part of something similar (as a parent, coach, or athlete).