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Nick at Night: What do parents hope to accomplish by forcing out a coach?

02/25/2018, 5:30pm CST
By Nicholas Kartos

By Nicholas Kartos, Editor Emeritus & Founder of WisSports.net

The law of diminishing returns is an economics concept loosely meaning that the amount of benefits gained by an action is not worth the energy or resources invested to make it happen. 

With another coach being ousted by parents in the news lately I couldn’t help but think about applying this concept to high school sports. 

Every coach in every high school across the nation has to deal with parent expectations. Many times, parents have been successful in having a coach removed and many a coach has retired due to the unnecessary pressure these parents heap on to these coaches.

Basically, at some point the benefits of coaching are no longer worth all the hassle involved. 

However, what I’m more interested in is the part that is never reported on. How the law of diminishing returns applies to parents and more importantly their kids.

Before diving in let me say that if a coach is truly abusing a player that should be dealt with. I say the word “truly” because I think the “abuse” route is a popular one for parents with ulterior motives. 

What return is a parent expecting when working so hard to remove a coach? If the effort is successful, from most likely to happen to least likely to happen, I think it boils down to five things:

1) Ego 
2) More relaxed player treatment
3) Increase playing time / usage
4) Better team outcome
5) Post high school athletic advancement

1) Ego – Congrats! You got the coach fired or they quit instead of dealing with you for any longer. You did it!  You really showed him or her. All those nights they spend with your child instead of with their own family or pursuing other interests are no more. That huge $0.50/hour they are making all the time they spend coaching, practicing, scouting and working in the summer will no longer be there.  They should have known better than to cross you and should have responded to your pleas for _________  (more playing time, different strategy, more usage for your kid, etc). You win! You are the best!  Likeliness of happening: 100%

2) More relaxed player treatment – Whatever new coach they bring in will be well aware to steer clear of your child. It will not be worth it to them to try and push your child. They most likely don’t care if they lose this replacement gig, they mostly don’t want to have to deal with you and your wrath.  Likeliness of happening: 75%

3) Increase playing time / usage – Somewhat related to the previous one, the new coach will be certain to try and remedy whatever reason you had for kicking the previous coach to the curb. Whether that means playing your kid more, getting them more shots, playing faster/slower.  Whatever it is there is a chance they will not want to see the same fate as the previous coach and more importantly deal with your crap.  Likeliness of happening: 50%

4) Better team outcome – When all else fails, blame the coach. Now with him/her out of the way your team can return to the glory of when you coached them to the 6th grade title at the Omro summer tournament. Likeliness of happening: 10%

5) Post high school advancement – That coach was holding your kid back! They now have a path to move on to collegiate and professional glory. Likeliness of happening: .00001%

Is all that worry and effort worth it?  Your ego will be boosted but how does that help your child? Sure, they might get some preferential treatment but not because they earned it and what lesson does that teach?  In most cases their outcome in sports and life will be no better because of it. I would even argue that this helicopter style will be a disservice to them when they are out in the real world.  

The next time you consider going into full assault mode on a coach I have a few suggestions:

- Do nothing. I know it’s hard. But sometimes the best action is inaction. Cheer your kid on, encourage them to work their tail off and let them know that everything in life that is worth working for will be hard. I bet in most cases them dealing with a challenging situation in sports prepares them better for life than having a coach fired for their potential benefit.

- If you have to talk to the coach do it like an adult and in the appropriate setting. Potentially ask a neutral party to attend if you feel the situation has gotten toxic. Ask questions instead of lobbing accusations.  How can my son/daughter get better?  What can they work on?  What are you seeing from them in practice?  What is their role? 

- Better yet, talk to your son or daughter to see if they are feeling the same injustice that you are. If they do, then have them approach the coach. You are not going to be able to get a professor in college to change a grade or call into their first job and yell at their boss, they should learn to deal with their problems now.

- If the entire team is feeling the same frustration with a coach and talking to the coach hasn’t changed the situation, have them use that to become closer as a team. Tell your child and their teammates to play for each other.  You’d be surprised what can be achieved when everyone on a team is accountable to one another.

Nicholas Kartos it the Editor Emeritus and Founder of WisSports.net. He currently runs GymDandy, which is the easiest way to manage your athletic facilities and take online booking requests.  Any schools or school districts that want to save time while making things easier for their staff, coaches and youth groups can contact Nicholas via email nick@gogymdandy.com.

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