My son starts, and he receives well above the average 13 minutes. However, today he shot a 3-point shot and made it - but the coach out loud said, "He's lucky he made that!" Which meant if he missed it, he was getting pulled from the game. Meanwhile his 28 minute playing son, turned the ball over, missed poor shots, missed a 3-pointer, and made several mistakes without recourse. I could write a second article chock full of arguments that would support allowing a youth player to make mistakes - they learn from them, and they know if they make a mistake it doesn't come with a heavy price - being benched! My son is already telling me that he's feeling the pressure of not making mistakes on the court because he knows the first kid off the bench coming in the game will be to substitute him out.
I've read several articles on this, and as a President of two youth sports organizations, Football and Baseball, I'm hyper-sensitive to coaches who sit kids for 98% of games in favor of their own sons. It's bad coaching behavior, and it flies in the face of the mission of youth sports. In my opinion, that allows the coaches son to make mistakes and grow, while other kids pay the price for his own son's advantage.
There's an article by Bob Bigelow, former collegiate and professional basketball player having played for the Kings, Celtics, and Clippers, regarding playing time, whereby he reinforces a number of the key issues in this article. Essentially playing time helps these kids become more confident. Here's an interesting quote:
"If you think you're doing your players a favor, especially your weaker kids, by playing them just a few minutes in the game, and you're also patting yourself on the back by saying "hey I finally got everyone in the game," you are actually doing those kids a great disservice. A few minutes is simply a cameo appearance that actually does almost nothing for the child to help him or her learn how to play basketball. And I'll be honest with you, if you ever watched this - and I've seen it way too many times - some kid that goes in for just a very few minutes, knowing that he or she is going to get yanked out soon by the coach, will make all sorts of mistakes, will be nervous, will run like a deer in the headlights, and then be back on the bench. And then the coach will be saying "See, I proved it, that kid can't do anything." Yes the coach put the kid in for just 2, 3, 4 or 5 minutes, and he/she knew you were going to put him/her in for just that little time, and got nervous, and messed up, and then the coach said "Hey, that's why I don't play this kid."As a father of a son who starts and plays for well over half the game, I have no place to complain. But, as a parent, I looked at the faces of the kids on the bench and they are clearly defeated. They want to play! And, I would argue that they feel a little embarrassed they're sitting the bench as much as they do. Imagine if you wanted to invite extended family members to come watch your son play, and he only sees 3-5 minutes on the floor! As a parent you would be embarrassed, and you probably wouldn't invite family in the first place! Part of the "Let the kids play" debate centers around the parents. Here's an interest quote from an article I read about the other side of the court - the parents point of view:
“When parents come to watch their kids’ games, they do so specifically to watch their child play. The parents really don’t care whether the team wins or loses –- they merely want to see their youngster compete and, ideally, have a good time being in the game. Children come to the games fully anticipating that they’re going to play, and play a lot. That’s where the fun of being a young athlete comes from.”The article goes on to talk about the ultimate questions - not whether a coach wants to win, but what price is the coach willing to pay:
"Benching a professional athlete goes with the territory because a pro team depends on the balance sheet. But demoralizing an impressionable youth leaguer with chronic benchwarming remains an unacceptable price to pay for the chance at winning. When a youth leaguer attends practice regularly, follows team disciplinary rules and gives full effort, Brooke de Lench is right that “[e]very child deserves an equal chance to play and learn new skills.” To me, warming the bench with someone else’s deserving 10-year-old resembles emotional child abuse."I think it's a tough line to walk as a coach, and the responsibilities, while some may argue are limited to the field of play and not life long lessons, however studies have shown coaches have an impact on a child's self-esteem based solely on their actions during a game:
"The American Academy of Pediatrics wisely instructs that a youth leaguer’s fulfillment in sports depends on adults who “clearly show that the child’s worth is unrelated to the outcome of the game.” Coaches reassure children about their worth when they allocate playing time with an eye toward the future."This debate will go on forever. And, coaches would argue that the playing time disclaimer was given early before the season began. However, parents of those players riding the bench are complaining regardless, and finding alternate places for their youth athletes to play outside of this travel team because they're fed up and some have even gone so far as to say, "This was the worst decision I've ever made for my player to let him come play on this travel team." The look on the players' faces during the game say the same thing.