I have done years of research in the field of youth sports. Probably as much as some researchers have. I have also coached football for many years with great success. What I mean by success is that I have winning teams with happy parents for what I accomplished with their kids and every kid gets to play the entire game.
The local youth rec. football league in our town has a minimum playing time rule that each kid will play the whole game on either offense or defense. It's a good rule and it works. I have yet to hear one kid or parent ever complain about this rule. Having coached in this league. I have come to realize that to be competitive, you have to:
- Know your sport and be knowledgeable.
- Have your kids playing in a position that fits their skill; and
- Most importantly, spend the majority of your time working with and coaching up your less talented or less-skilled kids. That's where the skill as a coach comes in to play.
In this type of system it doesn't take long to spot a bad coach. It takes patience and creativity - which are the most important qualities that a coach should possess if they are to be around kids. There is no chance of convincing me that minimum playing time for all sports doesn't benefit sports as a whole but also creates a culture that says - We care about kids - we care about their emotional needs - they are only young once and it doesn't last long so they should be able to enjoy playing competitive sports even if they aren't the best athletes. They will remember it - and when we get old and bound to a wheelchair they won't take it out on us for benching them 40 years ago.
I have recently written an article advocating minimum playing time for all sports from rec. leagues through high school and challenged the Indiana High School Athletic Association (ISHAA) as to (who would not benefit from such a rule and why would they not benefit ?) I know I will never get an answer from them, but if anyone disagrees with me on this one, go ahead, throw yourself out there.
If every team in a rec.league or school sports program had minimum playing time rules such as this league does, then all teams should be on an equal playing field. Right? Few people see it that way. But I don't mind fighting for it. I think of like this - Its like being Rocky in the late rounds of a heavy weight title fight and my eyes are swollen shut- I can't hardly see and I'm taking the beat down of a life time but I still come out swinging.