Players and Parents Differing Views on Competition

When I speak to groups of coaches, I bring them back to the playground. Most problems with youth sports do not start with the players; they start with the parents and parent-coaches. Players want equal teams, not stacked teams. When I was in junior high school, we had four pretty good players. When we picked teams, two were always on one team and two were on the other. Who wanted a stacked team? Where is the fun?

When writing about LeBron’s decision, Bill Simmons echoed the same refrain about the playground:

As for me, I figured out why the LeBron/Wade alliance bothers everyone beyond the irrefutable “Jordan would have wanted to beat Wade, not play with him” argument. In pickup basketball, there’s an unwritten rule to keep teams relatively equal to maximize the competitiveness of the games. That’s the law. If two players are noticeably better than everyone else, they don’t play together, nor would they want to play together…Joining forces and destroying everyone else would ruin the whole point of having the game…When LeBron and Wade effectively said, “Instead of trying to whup each other, let’s just crush everyone else” and “If these teams end up being uneven, we’re not switching up,” everyone who ever played basketball had the same reaction: “I hate guys like that.”

One big problem with youth sports is the stacked teams. Who benefits? Do the players benefit from beating up on other teams? It is not the players asking to stack their team; instead, it is usually the parents and/or coaches scheming to find ways to stack their son’s team so he wins. What’s the point? Is winning an u10 league championship that important?

By Brian McCormick
Author, Cross Over: The New Model of Youth Basketball Development
Director of Coaching, Playmakers Basketball Development League

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