What is Entitlement?

By Eliot Clough | Posted 9/19/2019

Pegging young athletes as entitled is nothing new. Some athletes believe that they should see the field, court or track more than a coach allows, and then, receiving some pushback, the coach labels an entire generation as entitled. We’ve all been there and we’ve all seen it.

RELATED CONTENT: Leadership Journey: Entitlement

Joining the Coach and Coordinator podcast recently to speak about entitlement was Brian Kight, the founder of dailydiscipline.com. 

Kight says that there is a distinct issue residing over the use of the word today. “The problem with people today saying it is that they lack the self-awareness that they’re saying the same thing people once said about them. We’ve got to understand that all this conversation about entitlement today mirrors the same conversation that has been had about every group of youth for thousands of years.”

Kight also maintains that for a coach to label any person/player (or an entire generation for that matter), they must have an accurate definition of what the word means.

The former CEO of Focus 3 adds that the word is thrown around entirely too often. “A kid comes out with an attitude that you don’t like, oh, [he’s] entitled. Somebody has a take on Twitter that you don’t like, oh, [he’s] entitled.” The phrase is too generic and too broad.

Kight continues, giving a definitive explanation as to what entitlement is. “Entitlement is what you believe you have a right to, regardless of how you do it,” states Kight. “So, the question when we call someone entitled is, ‘Do you think you have to earn it?’”

Rather than tabbing players as entitled, Kight says that coaches should check that their standards lineup with their players’. “A lot of the times where we mislabel entitlement is simply somebody believing that they have earned it,” adds Kight. “You and I can disagree on whether or not I’ve earned it, that doesn’t mean I’m entitled … It’s not completely black and white, and people can have differing opinions and we can even disagree on what we’re entitled to. What we need to do is have a clear line of what is and what is not entitlement. From there we have a conversation on what we are entitled to and what we need to earn.”

Kight goes on to list concepts coaches need to have a grasp of in order to set standards of entitlement with their squad. “If you set standards, smart people who are also good people [can] just disagree with the way you set your standards or what standards you set. That’s okay,” affirms Kight. “Just because someone doesn’t agree with your standard, doesn’t make them a bad person.”

Kight then adds a second and final piece. “Somebody has to decide the standards and that’s the person who is responsible for the outcome and for how the actual process unfolds. If you’re a head coach, that’s you. You set standards as a head coach. Parents are going to disagree, period.”