Buzby: Your kids' playing time isn't an untouchable issue

jonbuzby@hotmail.comJanuary 12, 2014 

I have written before about how players or parents should approach a coach when questioning playing time. But what are the next steps if you don't like the coach's answer?

One woman, whose husband has been coaching at different levels for 28 years, emailed and said that parents and players have to be willing to accept the coach's reasoning, no matter what it is.

While I basically agree with her, there is one case when a parent has every right to not only question the coach, but to go above his head to get the situation remedied if necessary.

Most recreation youth leagues have rules about playing time. Whether it's a certain number of minutes, innings or quarters -- or simply that a player just has to get in the game -- these rules are implemented to ensure every child gets to experience the joy of playing, regardless of ability.

As a parent, you have every right to research this rule. If there is one and it's not being followed, this is an instance where you can and should take another step.

I suggest that you approach the coach first and remind him about the playing time rule. In some cases, a rule that was reviewed by the league president at the preseason coaches meeting over two months ago might have simply been forgotten. If the coach admits this, you should expect your child to play at least the required minimum number of minutes in every game left on the schedule.

If the coach answers with the attitude that the "rule is a rule, but not really a rule," then you have every right to take your complaint to the next level -- probably the league's board of directors -- and should do so, not just for the sake of your child, but every player on the team.

As I've told parents in the past when I've served as a league administrator, we board members can't be at every game and therefore don't always know when rules aren't being enforced. Boards rely on coaches and parents to police each other, and when necessary, report wrongdoings.

Hopefully the league will support you and make sure the rule is enforced. If not, it's time to find a new league.

Jon Buzby's columns appear in newspapers and magazines around the country as well as numerous websites. Send comments to JonBuzby@hotmail.com and follow him @YouthSportsBuzz on Twitter.

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