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Disheartening Story About Youth Coaches

I heard something disheartening today from friend of mine who is a parent of very involved youth athletes.  They have a championship game in 9U flag football this Saturday that conflicts with a soccer tournament.  All of the players on my friends son's flag football team are also in the soccer tournament.  The league gave both teams permission to reschedule the flag football game for later in the day or later in the week.  The opposing coach has refused to reschedule even though they have been trying to find a common time for weeks, and is insisting on winning the championship by forfeit.


My biggest problem with this situation is not that a championship will be decided by forfeit, because in two years (let alone 10 or 20 years), nobody will remember who won the 9U flag football championship.  The problem with this situation is that his lack of willingness to reschedule a game has robbed kids of an opportunity to participate in a sport that they really enjoy.  The kids are not disappointed that they won't get to win a chance to win championship, they are disappointed that they are not getting an opportunity to play the game.


flag football


This type of thing happens all the time at the high school level.  We are constantly working our schedules around band and choir concerts, graduations (we had our sectional championship game moved two years ago to accommodate our opponent's graduation ceremony), and many more events.  A little cooperation goes a long way and sets a great example for kids to emulate.


As a youth coach, always remember what is most important... the players.  This coach is not putting the players first, he is putting winning and outcomes first.  This coach is missing a great opportunity to teach his athletes a lesson about cooperation and to allow the players to participate instead of punishing all kids (on both teams) in the name of "winning."



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7 Responses so far.

  1. Dale Pyles says:

    This is a sad situation. To be honest, I was just like that coach at one time in my life. What all coaches have to really do is become that kid we were once a long time ago. We just wanted to play, have fun, and compete against our peers. Everybody wants to win. Just win by showing your knowledge of the game and abilities that you have been practicing to achieve day after day. Even then as everyone knows, sometimes it comes down to dumb luck. But that is part of the game. That’s part of the fun. I teach my kids it’s ok to get upset after a loss. It’s how we rebound from that loss that really matters. They should always want to get better. Show the fire that burns inside all of us. Realize that everyone of their peers are out there to do the best they can also and respect them for that. If it was not for them, we wouldn’t have a game. So, ” Lets Play Ball “.

  2. Anut says:

    Well said. Your parents did a wonderful job of rearing you.

  3. Penny Pulz says:

    The letter ‘I’ rings clearly by the non rescheduling coach. His world is all about his world. A great learning opportunity to talk to the kids and show them that coaches make poor decisions just like kids do. Have a laugh and go on.
    Shows how to see that we can’t change anyone but we can sure change our behavior to an unfair situation.

  4. Kristin Schritter says:

    I joined this website in order to learn about the golden standard of sportsmanship that I witnessed in Atlanta at the National Rugby, soccer, basketball, baseball, etc., from the players, fans and promoters in the early 2006’s as my first visit to Buckhead. Not only am I a single mom now,2013, but I was previously a 7th grade volleyball coach who ran the YMCA volleyball athletic program. We constsntly competed against a highly funded elementary school who cheated in the finals by bringing in an 8th grader to serve 4 aces against my winning tean then #13 disappeared in the crowd. I walked away defeated and without justice for my rag tag team of winners but documented losers. Parents dispersed quickly. So I lost my teaching moment;however, I search for steadfast teaching opportunities in our youth programs for my own children and the ones I co-coach with dedicated volunteers. Please tell me it gets better in club sports with healthy competitive spirit! These are first graders looking for guidance and consistency…let’s set the sportsmanship standard early on… please advise me!

    • Kyle Nelson says:


      It always amazes me to see the lengths adults will go to in order win a kids game. I believe wholeheartedly in the value of fair competition that is kept in perspective. In fact, many of the concepts in my training program revolve around putting athletes in pressure situations in practice to teach leadership, decision making, and the ability to handle adversity. These traits will benefit them later in life.

      In regards to your situation, I am not sure what positive trait a group of 7th graders can learn from winning a game by using an illegal player. Actions like that boggle my mind! Did the coach/players/parents get any joy from that?

      I heard a great line the other day… “If you found a Metal of Honor laying in the street and picked it up, it doesn’t mean you earned it… it simply means you have it.” Those girls and that coach didn’t earn that trophy, they simply have them!

      In regards to your final question… does it get any better? The unfortunate answer to that is, sometimes. If you are able to position your self in the “right” club (not based on skill, wins and losses, prestige, or college scholarships) based on philosophy it can. But don’t just read the club’s philosophy on their website, investigate it. Talk to current players to see if they actually adhere to those standards and maybe watch a practice and game to see if they actually live up to those Core Values they claim to.

      I was a part of a club team a few years ago that stuck to their Core Values and made training, improvement, sportsmanship and development their #1 goal. Unfortunately, many people became upset with the teams didn’t win as much as others. The problem many times exists on the organization and parent side.

      Keep fighting for good sportsmanship and quality coaching. When something unfortunate happens, use it as a learning experience for your girls and anyone who will listen!

      Kyle Nelson
      Cornerstone Coaching Academy

    • Like Kyle says, it sometimes gets better. Unfortunately, all levels have their share for coaches and parents who are not in it for the right reasons, so it’s not a guarantee that things get better as we move up in levels. Keep focusing on teaching the proper elements to kids – skills, character, sportsmanship, etc., and you will know you are doing the right thing. You should also check out Proactive Coaching’s website for more information on instilling character-based coaching and athletic principles. Also check out our Facebook page at Every day Bruce Brown, the director of Proactive Coaching, posts three or four short “nuggets” for coaches, athletes, and/or parents. 35,000+ people have “Liked” the page as of today and are receiving those posts on their Facebook pages daily. The posts spark some really good comments/discussions. Check it out!

      • Kyle Nelson says:

        Have to be honest… I heard Bruce speak at the I-70 baseball clinic in 2007 (?) and it has been one of my motivations for starting Cornerstone. It was an eye opening experience that was the motivation for my transfer from a coach centered to athlete centered coaching philosophy. Please tell Bruce thank you for the impact he had on my coaching, and hopefully I can have the same impact on others!

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