Unhappy with the way your child is being used by his youth sports coach, but don’t know what to do? You could exercise patience and see how things play out, or you could politely find a time to talk to the coach to learn what your child needs to do to increase his chances for playing time. You could also, as one family in Virginia recently did, sue the league (though sport psychologists would strongly discourage parents from pursuing this option).
Yes, if you didn’t think youth sports already had enough issues (i.e. sports burnout, hazing, performance supplements, untrained coaches, etc), you can now add parent litigation against youth sports leagues to the list. Ironically, as crazy as it may sound to sue your child’s sports league, there are some who believe that youth sport coaches hold a lot of weight when it comes to playing time (and, consequently, a child’s chances for an eventual “full-ride” athletic scholarship). When you put it all together — a lifetime of investment into a youth sports career and a small window for an athletic scholarship opportunity — it becomes more clear why some parents consider legal action, even if it’s an extreme measure to take.
A sign of the times?
Perhaps the concept of “suing a youth sports league” shouldn’t be looked at in terms of right or wrong, but instead more a sign of the times and the lengths in which some families will go to help their child earn a college athletic scholarship. Whether more families will decide to sue youth sports leagues in the future remains to be seen, but the guess here is that this is probably just the beginning of youth leagues being sued by unhappy parents.
Are there “politics” in youth sports? Sometimes, yes, but keep in mind there are “politics” in everything in life when human beings are asked to evaluate and appraise. Subjective coaching decisions will always run the risk of being called “political” by the family of a child not elected to start or play, and with the option to pursue litigation available it’s likely some families will take their concerns to the courts. Still, at the end of the day it is important to remember that simply because a coach doesn’t play your child doesn’t mean you should immediately think there’s an “inside job” going on that only a lawsuit can make right.
Resiliency is the answer, not lawsuits
Interestingly, perhaps the best thing to do when your child doesn’t play is to help him understand the importance of resiliency, and working to improve his chances for the future by soliciting feedback from the coach and setting future goals around the advice given. Pursuing litigation should only be considered (if at all) in the most rare of instances, and after every other possible solution has been exhausted.
Pick up the only e-book your child will need for mental toughness here!