"My child plays baseball and is enjoying his experience, however, a group of people are complaining about the coach's rules on playing time and are pressuring me to complain, as well. What advice would you give to someone who is being peer pressured by others to go along with their opinions even though you don't agree?"
PCA Response by PCA Lead Trainer, Joe Terrasi
This can be difficult to answer in the abstract. I’m assuming “the group” refers to other parents on the team? Here are some general thoughts and guidelines:
It will be important to determine which group has the “jurisdiction” to make the decision. Is the issue something that is (or should be) covered in the league’s policy or procedures? Is it a matter that should be left to the coaches’ discretion? Or is it a matter for the team parents at large to decide?
Organizational Decisions: Most youth sports organizations develop policies and procedures that dictate general guidelines regarding the amount of playing time a player should expect to receive throughout a game or a season. Within the general guidelines, the organization tends to give some discretion to the coach about how the guidelines are applied in keeping with both the letter and the spirit of the written policy. Parent concerns about this type of league-wide policy should be directed to the league’s governing body.
Coaches’ Decisions: As with playing time, coaches are usually given the latitude to use their discretion over a number of issues including game strategies, practice methods, player positions, and many others. The best leagues give coaches clear guidelines and articulate the values that underpin these discretionary decisions.
Parent Decisions: A number of decisions are left to the parent community as a group. A simple example would be deciding who should bring drinks or snack to games or practices (and what options are acceptable). These decisions may place the responsibility on the parents to get together and decide what is best. Many leagues designate a “team parent” for each team to coordinate this process.
Some important takeaways and best practice suggestions:
Strong youth sports organizations carefully decide and articulate the values that will drive decision making. These values need to be specific enough to be used as the basis to create policies and procedures.
Within these organizations, coach selection, development, and evaluation are conducted in a way that sets coaches up for success in a way that is in keeping with league values and policies.
Finally - and arguably most importantly - the core value of a strong youth sports organization should be a statement that decisions are made by prioritizing the needs and welfare of the children over the needs of the adults. The strongest organizations include clear procedures for parents to raise important questions or disputes that may arise. As part of this procedure, it is a best practice to require that questions and concerns are only ever articulated between adults. It is import that we make every not to mar our children’s experiences by dragging the children into disputes and concerns that should be resolved outside of their earshot by responsible adults.