5 times when it's OK to 'evacuate' a team in youth sports — and 2 times when it isn't

By Janis Meredith | Posted 5/9/2018

Last fall, when Hurricane Irma hit Southwest Florida where I live, everyone discussed the topic of evacuation. Should we leave? Should we stick it out? When do we go?

As I thought about those evacuations, and why people left, or stayed, my mind turned to the evacuations that often happen in youth sports.

In hurricane situations, people evacuate because they fear for their safety. In certain situations where evacuations are mandatory, I totally get it. But I’ve survived several hurricanes in my life and my parents never thought to evacuate. They chose instead to board up and ride it out.

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Those who left the city — even the state — evacuated out of fear for their safety or comfort.

And I think that happens often in youth sports as well. Parents and kids “evacuate” teams, schools, leagues, even cities because they are afraid of something or do not want to face uncomfortable circumstances.

There are certainly reasons to “evacuate” in youth sports, but I feel there are way too many families “evacuating” for the wrong reasons. And let me say, for the record, that in this article, I’m talking about postseason evacuations, not midseason. 

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Here are some good reasons to evacuate:

1. The team culture is not healthy for your child

Ideally, you’ve done your homework and learned about the team before you sign your child up to play, but if you didn’t and you discover that you just cannot agree with the team’s philosophies, then a postseason evacuation is definitely in order. Don’t just choose a team because it’s convenient. Be picky about what’s best for your child’s growth and development. 

2. The parental influence is negative

Politics, negative parenting, or parents whose goals for their children do not align with yours — these are good reasons to find another team. 

3. The coaches are not helping your child grow and develop

Even if the team atmosphere is positive, if your children are not becoming better players and people because of their experience with their coaches, then find a team where they have a better chance of reaching their physical and emotional potential.

4. Your child is being bullied 

If you confront the problem with the perpetrators or the coaches and they don’t address the issue, then it’s time to remove your child from the situation. I’d say it even calls for a midseason evacuation. 

5. You fear for your child’s safety

If the coaches are not properly trained or there is little attention to safety concerns, move on!

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Here are some bad reasons to evacuate: 

1. Your child is uncomfortable

There are many reasons children may experience discomfort. Perhaps they’re not getting the playing time they want, the position they desire, or the recognition they feels they deserve. Or maybe they don’t understand their coach or some of their teammates.

No doubt, these are uncomfortable situations. But they do not require an evacuation. If your child gets into the habit of running every time they face a tough situation, then evacuating will become their default and they will never learn the value of growing stronger through the storms.

2. You are uncomfortable

Parents may be uncomfortable with the coach’s philosophy or personality, or with annoying parents on the team. I can’t count the number of times I felt uncomfortable about my kids’ coaches or teams. But I knew my discomfort was based on a very biased parental viewpoint. I love my kids and only want the smoothest circumstances for them, and when that doesn’t happen, I cringe in discomfort and would love nothing better than to whisk them away to safety.

It has been said that sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same. Facing a giant head-on instead of fleeing is most certainly not the easiest thing to do. But habitual evacuations will result in weak character development, and that is not what any parent wants for a child.

.Janis B. Meredith is a life coach for parents. She provides resources to help parents raise champions. Learn more about how how she can help parents Raise Champions.