My husband and I coach/manage X team together (which is the team of the school where we both teach). He is the head coach, I coach to a lesser extent and mainly focus on scrutinizing the grades and behavior of the players (we are very proud of our team GPA, which has been a 3.3 or better for the past 7 years). We have been extremely lucky in that we have had mostly really outstanding parents in the past 10 years of this program and a lot of really exceptional kids.
Our league/sport is very competitive. Many districts have policies where every player that can pay the athletic fee is allowed to be on the team, and all players must get equal playing time regardless of ability/game situation. These rules are nonexistent in our league/district. Our city is known as a sort of mecca for amateur athletes in this sport, hence the competitive nature of even a middle school league. Tryouts routinely draw 80+ boys, we keep between 12-18 per year.
Our middle schools are 6-7-8, and we take players from each grade every year (building for the future, etc). Unless there is an example of extreme talent, sixth graders generally do not play minutes (there are some exceptions when we play teams that are routinely under-talented), seventh graders get less minutes, and eighth graders get the majority of the minutes. A lot of this has to do with size and being competitive. Twice in the history of this program, sixth graders have not only played major minutes but started for us. Their talent demanded it and we were a better team for it.
So this year, we have a seventh grader (let's call him Alvin) on the team who was also on the team last year. He is basically a good kid, smart, but struggles with behavior. Last year after the year-end banquet, we got an angry email from Alvin's mom demanding to know why he wasn't given a plaque award (we usually give out 5-6 of these, and they *generally* go to 8th graders but this isn't always the case). I told his mom flat-out that Alvin had spent a large part of the season ineligible due to grades and/or disciplinary action (Alvin spent a lot of time in the dean's office last year) and his choices didn't merit an award. We didn't get a reply.
THIS year, Alvin has made the team. His grades are much improved and he seems to have matured. Really, he is talented, and will probably start for us in the 8th grade. We don't pay-to-play here, but we do require players to purchase a "spirit pack" which is all the team gear (clothing) since we have requirements for what kids wear on game days. They can fund-raise for this, and the total cost this year is $120.
Alvin sent Coach a text this weekend that said: "Hey Coach, my parents want to know if I'll get any playing time this year before they pay for the spirit pack."
Coach will be discussing earning playing time with Alvin at practice, but a phone call to Alvin's parents is going to be phrased as:
"There is no such thing as guaranteed minutes for anyone. Players earn minutes based on performance in school, in practice, and the needs of the team at that particular game. I will not promise anything to anyone. If this is too much uncertainty, Alvin is welcome to quit."
What baffles me is that Alvin's parents, based on this text, think that he deserves major minutes... which he does not. I know (intellectually, not from experience), that it can be hard to view your own child objectively, especially when comparing their talent to the talents of others. So parents out there, how would you want to hear this news? Is this too harsh, just direct enough, or... other?