A Lesson For Those Organizing Group Sports: Details Matter

My children are very active in groups sports and have been for years. My husband, a saint in anyone’s book, has coached both of their soccer teams since, well, forever. And I have been managing or volunteering in some capacity right along with him.

We are ALL IN when in comes to group sports. One son is on a travel league. The other is on a recreation league. My husband is assistant coach to both teams. I am helping with managing the travel league. (Way more paperwork and details!)

It takes a lot to fire us up. And, people, we ARE fired up.

Our soccer league recently merged with two others and in doing so made some radical changes. I’m not involved or interested in the minutia of those changes and I am generally not critical of other’s decisions.


I want to send a wake up call to the folks in charge. And this goes for anyone running a sports program or league of any nature: Fairness is important. Treatment of others is important. Acknowledgment is important. IT MATTERS. The little things MATTER to kids and their parents.

The travel kids get two practice jerseys along with two lavish uniforms (shirt/pants) made out of stellar material in two colors with socks to match in coordinating colors. Our recreation kids get one t-shirt to wear to all practices and games. ONE COTTON T-SHIRT.

Our head coaches get mesh jerseys, a future stipend and their child’s league fees paid for. Our assistant coaches get ONE COTTON T-SHIRT. (Yeah, no matter how many teams they assist.)

It sends a message:

  • We are not really concerned about you.
  • You are an afterthought.

My son is in a recreation league because he loves it and to help bolster his self esteem. As I’ve mentioned before, he has a learning disability and school is hard for him. Soccer is where he finds friends and feels like he is a part of something away from the taunts of the school yard.  Before the merger, he didn’t know he was “just a rec player.” He just knew he was a part of a great league. Now, with new changes differentiating travel from rec, it has become blatantly obvious to him that he isn’t good enough. GEE, THANKS. Not that we expect a travel uniform but, really? A little effort would have been nice. You know, so he feels like an actual player again.

My husband spends five days a week and countless hours on the soccer field. Just like the head coaches, he loves each one of those kids and makes sure that he shows them how special and important they are. He attends all of the mandatory meetings. A little acknowledgment (even in the form of a coaches shirt) would be nice.

So, again, for those of you who manage a league or sports program, take my words to heart. The details matter in ways you might not expect. (A child’s self esteem, perhaps? Devoted volunteers who feel like you give a hoot?) Fairness is important. Treatment of volunteers is important. Acknowledgment is important. The little things MATTER to kids and their parents.

You’re welcome.

6 Responses to "A Lesson For Those Organizing Group Sports: Details Matter"

  1. Shana D
    Shana D 4 years ago .

    “Fairness is important. Treatment of volunteers is important. Acknowledgment is important. The little things MATTER to kids and their parents.”
    Couldn’t have said that any better myself. I think that’s crap they are giving preferential treatment to some. Why not give every one ONE uniform, problem solved.

  2. Bob Carney
    Bob Carney 4 years ago .

    My daughter played in the Frederick City Rec league for years. Then played for the Hagerstown AYSO league and still plays for AYSO and High School soccer. I think she’s a pretty darn good player and I’m not saying that because I’m her dad and have coached her just about every year she played, but these prima donna travel leagues are just a money magnet. I think some are legit, but most are just cliques of “my kids better than your kid” and I can afford to pay high session fees and hotels every weekend and it shows by all the bag tags they have on their designer soccer bag.

    AYSO – everyone plays and it’s affordable. (Disclaimer; I’m the Safety Director for Reg 861 AYSO)

    Let the daggers begin to fly…I have thick skin. :)

  3. MusingsfromMe/Jill
    MusingsfromMe/Jill 4 years ago .

    I hear you on the hours spent volunteering. We do it, and do it not for the credit or accolades but for our kids.

    Yeah, a coaching shirt wouldn’t cost a lot plus coaches would probably wear the shirt to other events and gatherings thereby advertising the league. Yep, I’m a human sandwich for t-shirts from brands I love!

    As for the inequality in the league, travel is a different ball of wax. Because leagues can charge crazy amounts for travel parents expect lots of goodies. My daughters play travel volleyball. Each got 2 t-shirts, 2 shorts, 2 socks, and a warmup jacket and warmup pants. Parents buy the shoes, but some teams want all kids to have matching shoes, which means parents are trapped buying from an expensive retailer rather than bargain hunting.

    In addition one of my daughter’s teams, insisted that the kids needed another screen printed t-shirt, even though the kids had 2 tees already. Why?? I think parents sometimes like to relive the childhood they wanted to have or mold the childhood experiences they want their kids to have by making activities ever so complicated.

    Also, I second what Bob Carney said about travel clubs being a mixed bag. A few are simply moneymakers.

  4. Elizabeth
    Elizabeth 4 years ago .

    I agree! Even if the travel kids get something extra because of the extra fees and all the time away from home for games and tournaments, the recreational kids should get SOMETHING. Even something small like a second shirt, a special game jersey, etc…but just one cotton shirt? Playing just isn’t as fun when you feel like it doesn’t matter to the people in charge.

  5. Kelly
    Kelly 4 years ago .

    I couldn’t have said this better myself. The dedication your family has should count for more.

    I can understand the extra outfit for the travel team, but the other kids should get the same outfit but only one. I’m sure this would make them all feel like a more cohesive group.

  6. Diana
    Diana 4 years ago .

    As a volunteer coordinator both for work and in the community, acknowledging and appreciating your volunteers is critical in keeping them. I have left several organizations because I did not feel appreciated or heard. In addition, children are differentiated enough in school — in sports they should all be given time to play and to build their self esteem. It takes all kinds of players to make a good team and not everyone needs to be a star player. It’s sad that the adults take over and spoil something that was doing a lot of good for a lot of kids.