What to do if the coach favors their child over other players

By Janis Meredith | Posted 10/25/2018

"Daddyball" is when the coach favors or appears to favor their child over other players, even if it hurts the team.

The emphasis in that explanation is “even if it hurts the team.” If a dad coach gives their child a lot of playing time and their child is an amazing athlete, then it’s hard to argue — unless the team is really young and everyone should be playing equally. But if this is in the older stages of youth sports, the better athletes will play more — whether parents like it or not.

If you are concerned that a team your child wants to play on is infected with daddyball issues, here are a few ways to handle the situation.

Do your homework

Before you sign your child up for a team, find out the ability level of the coach’s child. If they truly are the best, then so be it. But if their child is one of the worst players, ask around to get a sense of the coach’s playing time philosophy. Do they have a history of being fair

One sure way to avoid the daddyball dilemma is to find a team with a coach who has no child on the team.

Once the season has started …

Once your kid is on a team where this is happening, it is too late to really do anything about the situation. In fact, anything you try will probably make it worse.

Talking to the dad coach usually doesn’t resolve it because, chances are, they will deny they are favoring their own child.

So, what’s a parent to do?

Quite honestly, this is a situation you probably cannot change. However, that does not mean that you have to settle in for a miserable season.

What are your options?

First, if you have time, volunteer to assist in coaching. This will at least give you a platform to work from to bring about change.

Second, ask yourself, “What is the most important thing for my child to learn in this situation and how can I help them learn it?”

Even being under the influence of daddyball, your child has a valuable lesson to learn. Maybe it’s how to get along with difficult coaches or teachers (or bosses), or how to motivate themselves to do their best for themselves, not to please the coach.

Instead of looking at the season as a waste and counting the days until it is over, look for ways to help your child grow stronger.

We all have to remember that coaches are fathers first, and many of them are out there to help their kids get better. However, that doesn’t mean they will not work hard to teach your kids and help them grow. It simply means that parental pride could be the guiding factor for how Dad relates to their child on the team.

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