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PostPosted: 28 Dec 2015, 10:46 

Posts: 8
Hi Guys,

I coach a 5th grade CYO team that is kind of a combination development/competitive league. It is understood that teams will play to win - but not at the expense of adequate playing time for all players on a roster.

Our participation rule is very vague: no player may appear in all 4 quarters of any game and every player must appear in at least 2 quarters of every game. Some programs follow the spirit of the rule - which is to give plenty of extended minutes to everyone, while others obey the letter of the rule - which has no time requirement and it's possible to sub a player in only for one whistle and then bench them. It is very rare for any program to follow the letter of the rule as described but it has happened. I definitely am a spirit of the rule type of coach.

With 9 players, I plan ahead and I schedule 3 different players in Q1, Q2, and Q3 to sit out. That means that I am able to play anyone I want in the 4th quarter and in most cases, my entire 9 man roster sees the floor. More often than not, halfway through the 4th the outcome of the game has already been determined and the players that have played the least that day will be in to finish the game. However, we did make it clear at our pre-season meeting that for the 1 or 2 times it might happen where the game was within a couple of points, we would be playing for a victory in the 4th quarter in terms of personnel and play calling.

Last weekend, we played against a team that was in clear violation of the no player can play for 4 quarters rule and it happened to be a very tight game. I would like to believe that I would have informed the refs of this violation even if it wasn't a close game but I can't say for sure that I would have. I did inform the refs in this instance and the opposing team had to adjust their lineup and while my motivations were probably selfish, if I had attempted to disobey the rules in the same manner and played my best players for the first 3 quarters, it is unlikely that his team would have been in the game anyway. Also, the penalty for violation of this rule if noted after the fact is a forfeit if your team was victorious AND a one-game suspension for the violating coach.

My question is: on the surface, was there anything wrong with my demand that our league rules regarding participation be adhered to?

PostPosted: 29 Dec 2015, 12:10 
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Posts: 1230
I don't see any problem with reporting it. I probably would do the same just to make sure things don't get out of hand... with a bunch of teams taking advantage if they see nobody is held accountable.

I might report it after the fact to the league director just to avoid a confrontation during the game. But hard saying until the situation presents itself.

Jeff Haefner

PostPosted: 29 Dec 2015, 12:24 

Posts: 8
Thanks for the reply, Jeff. I was very conflicted about it for a few days after the game but after speaking to numerous people and posting here, I think I did the right thing. One of the parents on my team also happens to be a coach in our program so he was in the stands that day. Other people were wondering what was going on, so he had a louder than usual conversation with his friend while they were in the bleachers. A couple of parents from the other team walked over and asked him "We didn't hear that. Can you explain it again?" So he did and they walked away satisfied. I suspect it might have been their own children riding the bench while their coach was trying to win at all costs.

The problem with reporting to the league director is the size of our league: it's Detroit CYO and there are literally over 100 teams in the league separated into 5 or 6 team divisions. So reporting it would be easy but after the fact enforcement is highly unlikely.

PostPosted: 29 Dec 2015, 17:21 

Posts: 899
Tough call. I ran into a situation like this when playing in the same type of a league. Same deal when coaching flag football with rules that you couldn't have your best player getting a majority of the ball touches. There always seemed to be those coaches who had their own interpretation of the playing time rules.

If it creates an obvious unfair advantage I would probably point that out. For example, the other team is keeping their two best players in all 4 Qs and their worst player is only seeing 1Q or maybe 1Q and a little bit of 2Q.

The best solution I came up with is asking the league directors to have the refs remind the coaches before each game begins. Or? If you suspect a team has a habit of ignoring those rules, you could grab the refs before the game and ask them to remind both coaches about the playing rules before tip off.


PostPosted: 29 Dec 2015, 18:43 

Posts: 8
Thanks for the reply Coach Rob.

So, today we had a tournament game and the team playing before us was from the same program but a different team. The head coach of that team happens to be someone that was a friend I hung out with a lot in high school. He was one year behind me and the parent that I mentioned earlier was actually in his class and their lockers were right next to each other for four years. (Just FYI, that was almost 25 years ago). I approached him after the game and just asked "Did you hear about our game last week with Smith's team? I'm just curious to know how it's being discussed over there because there has been no communication between programs since it happened."

His answer definitely made me feel better. Among other things, he managed to blurt out the following:

"I don't know how a guy that has coached in this league for almost 2 seasons can claim he didn't know that was a rule."

I then pointed out to him that he and his team were less than sportsmanlike during the post-game handshake and my high school friend also stated "He's got a heck of a temper. He wasn't happy that he got called out." (Of course, in the heat of competition I find it completely understandable that the coach was upset but unsportsmanlike conduct should be unacceptable no matter what happens during a game.)

In the end, the whole opposing program from that game is now very clear on what the official rules are regarding participation (it's only been a problem with the one team) and it seems that his own team parents were more upset about the coach not knowing the rules than at me for calling the rule out. The whole time that I was talking to my high school friend, he had a tone suggesting that there were several people at their program very unhappy with the performance of the particular coach that did not know the rules. Not the winning and losing - the way he handles his team in general.

Just adding to a little of the history: I have now faced off against this coach 3 times in 12 games over 2 seasons.

Game 1 (4th grade): my team was down 10-6 at half and came back to win 30-20. Shot about 80% in 2nd half. 24 points is an explosion for 1 half for 4th graders with 6 minute quarters.

Game 2 (4th grade): Super close game all the way through. It was a defensive battle on both ends of the floor. Tied 12-12 with :30 to go, we ran a BLOB play and scored easily to take the lead. I called TO before they inbounded. Our team had committed 1 team foul in the half. With 5 to give before the bonus, we stepped up aggressiveness on defense. We did not intentionally foul, per se, but we did get way more aggressive going for steals and committed 3 fouls that took about 25 seconds off the clock before we got a clean steal and ran out the clock.

Game 3 (5th grade, the game referenced): We were down 10-6 again at half. He played his 2 best players in Q1 and Q2 and brought them out again to start Q3. I couldn't believe he was sacrificing Q4 so easily. We came back quickly and took the lead by the end of Q3 and ended up winning 14-12. Turns out, he didn't have a clue that he was giving up Q4 but the odds are if he had sat down those players in one of Q1, 2, or 3 then it wouldn't have been that close to begin with.

I love playing against his team because it's the best competition in the league. He has barely said hello to me or shook my hand since Game 1.

PostPosted: 30 Dec 2015, 04:12 

Posts: 8
Rules are rules. Good thing you called out that coach. Although it is kinda hard to monitor all your players playing time. I could maybe let a game slip by, but all of them?

PostPosted: 30 Dec 2015, 08:02 

Posts: 8

From what I understand, this coach didn't even know the rules. It's actually quite easy to track if you plan ahead. I know before the game starts exactly which quarter each player will sit out for me for sure - they may sit out 2 full quarters but they all know exactly when they will sit out for sure. That makes it easy for my scorekeeper to keep an eye on what the other team is doing.

Our scorebook has a little box with 4 boxes inside marked 1,2,3,4. We just cross off a quarter that the player has been in. We don't track actual minutes. I try to get everyone what I like to call "meaningful" minutes. That means everyone plays in the first half for sure. If it's a blowout (on top or bottom) then the less competitive kids play way more in the second half. Drives my starters crazy because they end up with less playing time than they think they should get. But when it's a close game, those starters get the PT in the 4th quarter.

I totally understand that you can't get 9 10-year olds to agree on which Ninja Turtle is the coolest let alone expect them all to have already developed a fiery competitive spirit. We had a team meeting with parents explaining this before the season and made it clear that in close games, we would play to win within the spirit of the participation rules (meaning extended minutes for everyone during the game but not necessarily in Q4). Philosophically, I have a problem with hiring professional refs, playing with a huge scoreboard at each end of the floor, timing the game regulation style with stopped clock on all whistles, official scorekeepers tracking everything that is happening, putting point totals for each team on the board, playing by high school foul count rules (7 for bonus, 5 personals allowed) and THEN telling kids that we aren't going to worry about trying to win the game.

PostPosted: 31 Dec 2015, 01:44 

Posts: 8
I thought he was a coach in that league for a long time. In our league, a good thing is that you have many players. Each team has 15 players and you play 5 of them each quarter. 4th quarter comes and you can play and substitute anybody you want.

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