Author Topic: Pushy Parents ... check my phrasing? (sort of long w/ bg)  (Read 5282 times)

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GSNW

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Pushy Parents ... check my phrasing? (sort of long w/ bg)
« on: December 03, 2012, 03:34:45 PM »
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?

 


amylouky

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Re: Pushy Parents ... check my phrasing? (sort of long w/ bg)
« Reply #1 on: December 03, 2012, 03:41:34 PM »
I would leave out the "welcome to quit" line, and replace it with, "I would like to remind you that the spirit pack is a required purchase for participation at any level."

NyaChan

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Re: Pushy Parents ... check my phrasing? (sort of long w/ bg)
« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2012, 03:43:14 PM »
Well, I don't know how or what you've communicated to them in the past, but I'd try a pleasant and informative approach.  More along the lines of explaining how the team works than a discussion of Alvin.  I know your proposed language is similar and doesn't mention Alvin's past behavior, but you also mentioned a difficulty for the parents in seeing him objectively.  Unless Alvin's behavior last year is actually going to have an effect on his playing time this year, I wouldn't mention it.  I would just focus on what is expected this year of everyone.     

I'd call and say "I received the text from Alvin and I wanted to go ahead and go over the way the team works so that you know what you are getting into before you invest in the spirit pack.  Team members must X, Y, and Z in order to get time playing.  Even then there aren't any guarantees so if you think the team won't work out for your family, we completely understand."

GSNW

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Re: Pushy Parents ... check my phrasing? (sort of long w/ bg)
« Reply #3 on: December 03, 2012, 03:45:41 PM »
I'd call and say "I received the text from Alvin and I wanted to go ahead and go over the way the team works so that you know what you are getting into before you invest in the spirit pack.  Team members must X, Y, and Z in order to get time playing.  Even then there aren't any guarantees so if you think the team won't work out for your family, we completely understand."

You're right, this is much kinder and gentler.  It would be accurate to say that I am very frustrated with this kind of question from parents who were with us an entire season last year, also during fall and spring "off-season" leagues, and still don't understand how the program works.  But I can be nice about it.

CaptainObvious

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Re: Pushy Parents ... check my phrasing? (sort of long w/ bg)
« Reply #4 on: December 03, 2012, 03:49:15 PM »
I'd call and say "I received the text from Alvin and I wanted to go ahead and go over the way the team works so that you know what you are getting into before you invest in the spirit pack.  Team members must X, Y, and Z in order to get time playing.  Even then there aren't any guarantees so if you think the team won't work out for your family, we completely understand."

You're right, this is much kinder and gentler.  It would be accurate to say that I am very frustrated with this kind of question from parents who were with us an entire season last year, also during fall and spring "off-season" leagues, and still don't understand how the program works.  But I can be nice about it.

I don't think you need to once again explain how the program works. They paid last year, they know the drill.

Lynnv

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Re: Pushy Parents ... check my phrasing? (sort of long w/ bg)
« Reply #5 on: December 03, 2012, 03:51:38 PM »
I'd call and say "I received the text from Alvin and I wanted to go ahead and go over the way the team works so that you know what you are getting into before you invest in the spirit pack.  Team members must X, Y, and Z in order to get time playing.  Even then there aren't any guarantees so if you think the team won't work out for your family, we completely understand."

I would not use that particular phrase, as the parents will hear "if you do X, Y and Z, then Alvin WILL get playing time" even though that isn't at all what you said.  I would go with, "I received the text from Alvin and I wanted to go ahead and go over the way the team works so that you know what you are getting into before you invest in the spirit pack.  Team members and their families must do X, Y and Z in order to be on the team roster.  As always, team membership will not guarantee any playing time.  Playing time is based on the needs of the team at the time and will be determined by the coaches as the seasons and the individual games progress.  We certainly understand if you find that this won't be the best way for your son to continue to improve his skills and develop his talents to their fullest.  Please let us know what you decide."
Lynn

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artk2002

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Re: Pushy Parents ... check my phrasing? (sort of long w/ bg)
« Reply #6 on: December 03, 2012, 04:01:59 PM »
"Buying a 'spirit pack' is a requirement for being on the team. There are no guarantees of playing time. If that doesn't work for you, I'm sorry."

Nothing more than that.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bow lines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. -Mark Twain

CaptainObvious

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Re: Pushy Parents ... check my phrasing? (sort of long w/ bg)
« Reply #7 on: December 03, 2012, 04:02:35 PM »
"Buying a 'spirit pack' is a requirement for being on the team. There are no guarantees of playing time. If that doesn't work for you, I'm sorry."

Nothing more than that.

I agree, simple and to the point.

Eden

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Re: Pushy Parents ... check my phrasing? (sort of long w/ bg)
« Reply #8 on: December 03, 2012, 04:05:28 PM »
I'd call and say "I received the text from Alvin and I wanted to go ahead and go over the way the team works so that you know what you are getting into before you invest in the spirit pack.  Team members must X, Y, and Z in order to get time playing.  Even then there aren't any guarantees so if you think the team won't work out for your family, we completely understand."

I would not use that particular phrase, as the parents will hear "if you do X, Y and Z, then Alvin WILL get playing time" even though that isn't at all what you said.  I would go with, "I received the text from Alvin and I wanted to go ahead and go over the way the team works so that you know what you are getting into before you invest in the spirit pack.  Team members and their families must do X, Y and Z in order to be on the team roster.  As always, team membership will not guarantee any playing time.  Playing time is based on the needs of the team at the time and will be determined by the coaches as the seasons and the individual games progress.  We certainly understand if you find that this won't be the best way for your son to continue to improve his skills and develop his talents to their fullest.  Please let us know what you decide."

I agree with this

hobish

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Re: Pushy Parents ... check my phrasing? (sort of long w/ bg)
« Reply #9 on: December 03, 2012, 04:06:25 PM »
I'd call and say "I received the text from Alvin and I wanted to go ahead and go over the way the team works so that you know what you are getting into before you invest in the spirit pack.  Team members must X, Y, and Z in order to get time playing.  Even then there aren't any guarantees so if you think the team won't work out for your family, we completely understand."

I would not use that particular phrase, as the parents will hear "if you do X, Y and Z, then Alvin WILL get playing time" even though that isn't at all what you said.  I would go with, "I received the text from Alvin and I wanted to go ahead and go over the way the team works so that you know what you are getting into before you invest in the spirit pack.  Team members and their families must do X, Y and Z in order to be on the team roster.  As always, team membership will not guarantee any playing time.  Playing time is based on the needs of the team at the time and will be determined by the coaches as the seasons and the individual games progress.  We certainly understand if you find that this won't be the best way for your son to continue to improve his skills and develop his talents to their fullest.  Please let us know what you decide."

I like this, especially since the text came from Alvin and not his parents. For all we know the parents were just grousing and Alvin took it upon himself to ask. They might not have even said anything at all and Alvin took it upon himself to ask because he is unhappy with his playing time. Because of that I like the gentler approach. It is still to the point, but gives tham some benefit of doubt.
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artk2002

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Re: Pushy Parents ... check my phrasing? (sort of long w/ bg)
« Reply #10 on: December 03, 2012, 04:37:44 PM »
I like this, especially since the text came from Alvin and not his parents. For all we know the parents were just grousing and Alvin took it upon himself to ask. They might not have even said anything at all and Alvin took it upon himself to ask because he is unhappy with his playing time. Because of that I like the gentler approach. It is still to the point, but gives tham some benefit of doubt.

My take is that the parents had Alvin do it, since it's (supposedly) harder to say 'no' to a kid than to an adult.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bow lines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. -Mark Twain

guihong

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Re: Pushy Parents ... check my phrasing? (sort of long w/ bg)
« Reply #11 on: December 03, 2012, 04:45:39 PM »
I'm confused; do the players have to buy a new "spirit pack" every year?  How does the equipment change from one season to the next?

If this is so, I might see how $120 for a "maybe" spot might get expensive.  When I was in high school, I had to make a lot of purchases to even be an alternate on the drill team, and still didn't get to perform except for once. 

With that said, if every player knows what is expected off the field behavior-wise before the season even starts, then they know why Alvin didn't play.



artk2002

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Re: Pushy Parents ... check my phrasing? (sort of long w/ bg)
« Reply #12 on: December 03, 2012, 05:01:19 PM »
I'm confused; do the players have to buy a new "spirit pack" every year?  How does the equipment change from one season to the next?

If this is so, I might see how $120 for a "maybe" spot might get expensive.  When I was in high school, I had to make a lot of purchases to even be an alternate on the drill team, and still didn't get to perform except for once. 

With that said, if every player knows what is expected off the field behavior-wise before the season even starts, then they know why Alvin didn't play.

It's not a 'maybe' spot. It is a real spot on the team. Just like all real spots it may or may not come with playing time. A bench-warmer is just as 'real' as a starter.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bow lines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. -Mark Twain

GSNW

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Re: Pushy Parents ... check my phrasing? (sort of long w/ bg)
« Reply #13 on: December 03, 2012, 05:39:56 PM »
I'm confused; do the players have to buy a new "spirit pack" every year?  How does the equipment change from one season to the next?

If this is so, I might see how $120 for a "maybe" spot might get expensive.  When I was in high school, I had to make a lot of purchases to even be an alternate on the drill team, and still didn't get to perform except for once. 

With that said, if every player knows what is expected off the field behavior-wise before the season even starts, then they know why Alvin didn't play.

It's not a 'maybe' spot. It is a real spot on the team. Just like all real spots it may or may not come with playing time. A bench-warmer is just as 'real' as a starter.

This is accurate.  We could, in theory, take 12-18 8th graders every year but a) there aren't that many 8th graders with talent and b) that would be a foolish move in terms of building for the future.  Being ON the team means being part of a unit and playing your role, be it getting water for the guys that are running up and down the court or shooting the buzzer-beater.  If someone sees their only valuable role on the team as being a star player, they are in the wrong program.  Even our superstars sweep the floor before practice.

The point is that every player has a legitimate CHANCE of seeing the floor.  Sometimes kids will compete for their playing time - being of similar ability levels, for example - and sometimes a kid will stand out and be performing so well, there's no reason to pull him except to rest.  And some kids have not developed their talent yet to the point where they can contribute in an actual game situation - but if we didn't see it happening down the road, they would never have made the team.
 
It's funny you bring up using the gear from previous years - that's the same suggestion I had!  We tried that a few years back, and lots of parents complained about their kids' stuff falling apart (middle school boys wear this stuff constantly and are pretty relentless in their destruction of the clothes).  The other problem is with our clothing supplier - say we order a sweatsuit in #123098 model 6 one year, it won't necessarily be available from Champion or whatever the next year, so the stuff winds up looking different. 
« Last Edit: December 03, 2012, 05:41:43 PM by GSNW »

cheyne

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Re: Pushy Parents ... check my phrasing? (sort of long w/ bg)
« Reply #14 on: December 03, 2012, 07:32:55 PM »
"Buying a 'spirit pack' is a requirement for being on the team. There are no guarantees of playing time. If that doesn't work for you, I'm sorry."

Nothing more than that.

I agree with artk2002.  Alvin was on the team last year, his parents know the score.  I think they are trying to get a commitment from you that Alvin will get more playing time this year.