"It's just a game."
"It's not about winning and losing."
"Why doesn't my child get the same amount of playing time as her child?"
"Practice makes perfect."
But what if it doesn't? What if your child, after hours and hours of practice, doesn't improve at the rate of the other kids on the team and, as a result, doesn't receive the same amount of playing time?
I've attended countless sporting events, both as a former athlete and parent, and have witnessed the frustration of parents at every level who compare their child's total playing time to another's as though the contest isn't between the teams as much as it is among the players.
Age does make a difference and benching a 5-year-old soccer neophyte is quite different from the high school junior who rides the bench for the majority of the season. Many parents contend that unequal playing time is a major blow to a child's self esteem, and it is if it occurs among youngsters new to the game. But for those children who haven't reached the same caliber of play at the higher levels, there's a life lesson there. As hard as it may be for parents, it's time to recognize that your child may not be the next Beckham or Rose.
I've been told that it takes about 10,000 hours of practice to master a skill. If that's the case, preventing a youngster from experiencing the same amount of playing time early on is to his detriment. As children get older, it's important that they learn to work for what they want. Instilling this idea that they will receive equal treatment conveys a sense of entitlement. If you believe a mediocre high school softball player is entitled to the same amount of playing time as a gifted player than you're part of the problem.
And sometimes, no matter how hard the child works, he won't be better than his teammate. And that's OK. At least you will have instilled him with a strong work ethic and the knowledge that life isn't always fair.
Do you believe in equal playing time? At what level would you expect coaches to award positions and playing time based on ability?