Some parents and players need to speak up

There is always much made of the over-active, meddling high school basketball parent. You know – the one who not only likes to complain about their daughter’s playing time but tries to micro-manage or run the entire program. The one who tries to make the life of the coaches a living hell.

To be sure, this is an issue in some quarters. There are some parents who will always think they know better than the coach, and there are those who will never think their daughter gets enough court time. But at the risk of angering some, this seems to be mostly a suburban – and not an inner-city – problem. Players and parents of city schools tend to be the opposite of the squawkers: they don’t speak up enough.

I’ve seen it enough the last few years in various parts of socio-economically-challenged Los Angeles. A coach is verbally-abusive to athletes, has unethical practices, doesn’t develop players’ abilities, creates a culture of fear and negativity instead of fun and learning. Yet the players don’t say anything and neither do the parents.

Athletes are usually hesitant to speak up for one of two reasons: either they “don’t think it will do any good” to talk to the school athletic director or administration, or they fear retribution from the coach. With parents it’s usually either not believing they’ll be listened to, or fear of making waves.

Though these mindsets are frustrating to watch, I understand them. If you don’t think you’ll be heard, why try? The world we live in is still discriminative, racist and frustrating at times.

Yet, I see the “culture of refusing to speak up” as a generational problem, too. Back in the day, both young and old tended to believe that if they spoke up they could make a difference. Remember Tommie Smith and John Carlos raising the “black power” sign at the 1968 Olympics? And what happened to rap and music groups like Public Enemy, who were not afraid to stir up controversy to make their point? Those days seem to be behind us, as our music and culture have melted into sameness.

Many times in high school basketball, parents are disgruntled for no substantial reason; a coach can’t please all the people all the time. But in some cases, players and parents have legitimate gripes. Coaches who berate players personally and continuously, try to involve themselves in an athlete’s life outside of basketball, don’t help a player develop better skills or get her into a college, and who help kill the love of the game in a young person are examples of issues that need to be addressed. And it is a parent’s job to make sure such issues are dealt with.

Every parent has a job to look out for the welfare and well-being of their child. If something isn’t right, speak up. Go to the school’s athletic director or principal, and if they don’t address the issues, keep taking them up the ladder until you find someone who will. Don’t stop until the issues are resolves to the satisfaction of you and your child. Because a girl is only on her high school basketball team once in her life, and those should be some of her best times.

I always do what I can to encourage athletes and their parents to speak up against perceived wrongs. And I hope that more of a sense of empowerment flows back into the inner cities. Everyone’s voice needs to be heard.

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  1. How about the abuse of travel ball coaches. They're the worse and travel ball is suppose to be all about developing. So what to do? Switch teams just like you can do in High School, but the promises probably won't be better and you'll be unhappy with a variety of things. All players want to play more than they deserve because they're selfish immature girls and have forgotten the meaning of team ball and player even though they've been told many times. They're more interested in scoring some points than in their team winning and building. Sharing is not what they want. Yes, they all want others to play, but some have to sit out because only 5 can be on the court at a time. Ask the players who should sit in front of everyone and they'll be quiet, but have them do it individually to you, they'll stab others in the back and/or give nonsense a new meaning so have them write it out on paper and expose it to all and warn them about it. You'll still see some writting in playing time for your worse players even if you tell them to give you the minute list when playing a good team. In fact, many won't respect the 160 minute rule (that's 5 players times 32 minutes). They'll have a time sheet that has well over that. I guess we need to expand the length of the games to fulfill their wishes. I wish I could coach against them so I'd have some quaranteed wins. Parents want all these kids to play, but they sure don't want to say who sits out and who doesn't in front of anyone. The best thing a parent could do is encourage their child and not bad mouth the coach because this leads to the downfall of team unity. There can only be one leader. Parents are usually always the cause of their child's downfall because they refuse to stay behind the scenes. The player needs to listen to the coach and obey because the coach is trying to help them succeed and are probably coaching for peanuts and giving back way more in time, effort and money to support the team and girls. Most parents don't want to pay a nickel for high School ball. A great question would be why would anyone want to coach high school ball? You gotta be a little crazy. That's what my spouse tell me. Life starts when one retires or gets replaced. Just ask a veteran and this is exactly why there's alot of immature self professed know it alls that don't know what they're doing today and such huge turnover of coaches especially in girls basketball. That's the truth whether you like it or not.

  2. First of all, how about the use of that "enter" key to create a new paragraph? That would separate your many thoughts and make them far easier to read.

    To characterize "all" high school players as "selfish immature girls" who are backstabbers is ridiculous. You obviously have a story behind your outlandish statements – some issues and/or some history – and I don't wanna know what they are.

    Go back and read what I wrote about coaches, and you'll see that I specifically outlined the types of coaches that I'm talking about. Fortunately they're fewer and farther between than the good ones, despite how little high school coaches make. There are certainly parents who need to sit down and be quiet – I talked about that in the first paragraph. But again, the entire point is that in the inner cities, the opposite is usually the case.

    I hope you don't have children – especially girls.