Talking Playing Time

January 2, 2019

In New York state, athletic directors are finding themselves talking with parents about their children's playing time more often. As reported by The Daily Gazette, part of the problem is youth leagues. 

"What we are experiencing now is a generation of kids being put in leagues, AAU and clubs at an extremely young age, and the investment can be thousands upon thousands of dollars," said Chris Culnan, Athletic Director at Shenendehowa High School. "You get to the world of high school athletics, and parents think there needs to be some kind of a payoff. In reality, that doesn't necessarily align with coaches' goals. The coaches' goal is the team goal. For some parents, that goal is secondary."

Robert Zayas, Executive Director of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association, said some parents' expectations are unrealistic, due to not understanding the recruiting process.

"I think parents have to be better informed of what the reality of the situation is," Zayas said. "So often, parents are misled to believe that their son or daughter is going to get a college scholarship when, in reality, that is not possible. Statistically, it's just not.”

Zayas said this is partly due to parents having a “club sport mentality,” in which they pay money and get playing time for their children in club sports, only to find that high school sports operate differently.

Ed Dopp, Executive Director of Section II, said more parents are discussing their concerns about their children's playing time, even if the overall number is relatively small. He said that those who have concerns have also changed how they try to solve their problems.

"My last 10 years as an athletic director and coach at Shaker, there seemed to be an increase in the degree to which they would express themselves, and the manner they would express themselves," Dopp said. "Sometimes, instead of talking to the coach, they'll attack the coach and/or go over their head."

Steve Boynton, Athletic Director at Schenectady, speaks with parents about playing time during preseason gatherings.

"With varsity parents, we'll tell them it's going to be the best athletes on the floor. The goal is to win games," Boynton said. "With modified parents, I tell them to contact me if their kid is not playing. Modified is for learning techniques. It's about developing skills and getting comfortable in game situations. We want them all to get time."

Dave Austin, Athletic Director at Mohonasen, said it is important for coaches to be diplomatic and good listeners, even with difficult parents.

"You have conversations with parents, and you listen," Austin said. "Ultimately, you have to make your own evaluations. That's your job."

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