Father’s Facebook Rant Causes Son’s Drop from Arizona Youth Football Team

It happens so often – an overzealous parent wreaking havoc on their son’s or daughter’s sports experience – that most of us expect to see it sooner rather than later. Not only are spectators privy to uncomfortable scenes played out by parents right before their eyes, “crazy” sports parenting is a consistent topic in many local newspapers or sports articles. And with the explosion of social media…differences between parents, parent and coach, even parent and league, are more than likely going to be aired in that venue as well.

So when the story first broke last week of a 9-year-old youth football player being dropped from an Arizona youth football team he played for, due to a Facebook post by his dad, I was hardly surprised. My first thoughts were, “Great, another crazy, misguided sports parent takes to social media.”

However, those were only my initial thoughts, for as I read through the story, in two different news reports (article #1, article #2), and watched their accompanying videos, something different stood out. Here…take a look:

 

Turning to Facebook, Scott Kelly posed this:

Hey Facebook friends. I need your opinion and feedback

Should youth football teams (8-9yr old) bring new players that have not practiced or played a single down all season for the playoffs (“ringers”) that put full season players on the sidelines?

Even though it is unlikely I would have used Facebook to air this situation, and I would most likely have tried to turn this into a positive life lesson for my child―something to help inspire them (although a little young at 8-9 years old), what I find a little troubling is the league’s position on this whole scenario.

No…very troubling actually.

If you listened closely to what was said in the imbedded videos (combined with what was written in the linked articles)…you should have picked up on the inference expressed by league president, James Vieth.

That the kids who played were all registered by the deadline (before the 4th game of the season) allowing them to play at ANY TIME during the season. No practice necessary.

REALLY…they actually ALLOW that???  (This does not seem to be a scenario where an athlete moved into the area during the season and had no place to play.)

Let me clarify…that means an athlete (or group of athletes) can sign up before the deadline…not practice at all during the season…nor play a down…and then be added to the roster when the coach (using the term loosely) feels these additions can help them “win” games…say…I don’t know…right before playoffs.

Hmm…sounds a little like that’s EXACTLY what happened…unless, of course, there are pieces to the story I am not aware of (and please feel free to chime in if there are).

And just to help clear up Mr. Vieth’s misconception of the right or best thing to do…just because “all teams do it” doesn’t make the behavior of allowing non-practicing players (in my mind…non-team members) play at the end of the season any more ethical.

In fact…it sounds a lot like (in principle) the excuse some use in defense of Lance Armstrong’s steroid use. That since everyone was using during Armstrong’s reign…that makes it Ok.

Sorry…in both cases…that holds about as much water as a plastic bag with twenty holes poked in the bottom.

A couple of rhetorical questions if I may:

  1. So what happens to the players who made practice, worked hard while they were there, and helped build the strength of the team by those efforts? What happens to them?
  2. What about the idea all should be teaching that great things come to those who put in the efforts? You know…like what 3rd place Heisman Trophy candidate (NIU quarterback Jordan Lynch) learned through his experience as an athlete…that it is hard work that pays off. That even though you were only recruited by one university because the rest didn’t think you were good enough…that through your efforts…you can become one of the top five players in the country. Or is that not something you teach in this league?
  3. How does the current practice (“rule”) of allowing athletes who have not trained with the team or played one down, as long as a player had registered in time, help build team unity? How about solid life lessons?

Again…right or wrong…I might have (from a parent’s perspective) handled it differently than Mr. Kelly, and would likely be the first to call out a truly overzealous parent; however, my message to that Arizona youth football league is quite strong.

You need to change the “rule” that allows unethical coaches to make decisions like the one presented here.

Not doing so supports a “win at all costs” attitude and loss of perspective in sports…and most certainly sends the WRONG message to the youth participating in your program. A message hypocritical to the positives that can come out of a solid competitive youth sports experience.

Bad play guys...bad play!!!

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