Should all athletes be entitled to at least some playing time in high school sports?
I imagine it’s fun to be part of a team regardless of how much playing time you get. But I also imagine it can get a little frustrating to grow stiff and cold on the bench every game, or to be treated like the “human victory cigar” — the person who finally gets a chance to play only when the team is about to win in a blowout.
How does a coach balance the desire to win with giving all of his athletes playing time?
I’ve always felt that high school sports isn’t just about winning. It’s about growing as a player and as a person.
And how do you do that if you never get the chance to show what you can do on the field of play?
Everyone should be entitled to at least some playing time, right?
That’s what I thought until I met Atlantic boys basketball coach David Howard, who gave me a “reality check” with his very clear approach to the issue.
“You earn your time on the court,” he said.
I still believe high school sports are a time of growth, and I know Howard does, too. In life, some times you get what you want, and sometimes you don’t. It’s great if you do immediately achieve what you want, but if you don’t? Work for it. Just like with anything in life.
“We’re trying to prepare kids for reality, for life,” Howard said. “In recreation ball, they pay for that playing time. In middle school, they earn it. In high school, they earn it. And they’ve definitely got to earn it in college. So, it’s one of those situations where, as a coach, you can’t put winning in front of everything, but it has to be somewhere up top because if you don’t win, then you won’t be coaching. That’s just the reality of it.”