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Fellow coaches:

I'd like to get your input on a situation that I'll have to deal with next year. I will give a little background information to set the stage.

I'm in my 13th season as head coach. 12 winning seasons before last year; we finished 8-16. Part of it was talent, part of it was coaching and part of it, I believe, was lack of dedication on the part of the players. Every year, I feel the kids (in ALL sports) do not put the emphasis on dedication and being at all practices and games that used to be present. Last season, we had a ton of kids miss a ton of practices/games.

So at a preseason meeting with parents and players a month or so ago, I impressed that on the players and parents and told them we were going to tighten things up. That I felt it was important for players not to miss practices/games unless ABSOLUTELY necessary...singling out family emergencies/deaths, personal illness, SAT/ACT testing, other varsity/JV sports. And I let them know that missing for unexcused absences could result in a player not making the team, or being dismissed.

Now today, I get a letter from a mom explaining that they were going to have an 80th birthday party for her mom a couple of months ago, but due to her brother having a heart attack, they needed to reschedule it....they opted for the first weekend in April, which would mean their son (who they say is required to go) would miss a league game and a DH on Saturday. They indicated they have dozens of family members coming in from several states, and that this is the best weekend they could come up with.

The player is a decent player who would most likely make the team otherwise, and in fact would likely be a starter. He's a Junior.

I'm torn. On one hand, it does seem that it was due to a fluke situation that they picked this time, and they certainly have addressed the situation. On the other hand, I feel like I have to make a stand and let our players know that other than emergencies or completely unavoidable circumstances, they are not to miss games. And if they will, then maybe they would be better off giving up their spot to someone who WOULD NOT miss practices for, what is essentially, a family get-together.

I'm sure that I'll get strong opinions both ways, and ultimately I'll have to make my own decision, but I do appreciate other coaches/parents putting in their 2-cents. Maybe your input will help me make the best decision I can make on behalf of that player, and more importantly, on behalf of my team.

Thanks in advance for your input.

"Swing hard in case you hit something" Gary Ward

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I totally feel your pain because I get this all the time myself. Kids today are not as good at commitment as they used to be and they stink at prioritizing things.

I would say let him go to see grandma. She has more years behind her than she does in front of her - even if she lives to be 100. I don't think you would look weak or backtracking if you let him go either. This could be considered a family emergency because of the other family member having the trouble (can't remember what it was).

I don't think you can really argue with family commitments. I tell my guys only three things are more important than baseball - family, church and school. Now if family, church and school keep causing someone to miss then we need to sit down and talk about whether baseball is important enough to them. If this other stuff gets in the way they need to give up something. Maybe even baseball.

A couple of years ago we pulled two upsets and won our district tournament which put us into the regional tournament the next week. After the first game in the district tournament this kid comes up to me and said he was going to miss the rest of the week (meaning district championship and practice leading up to regionals) to go to the beach. I asked him if his parents would let him stay with another family member so he could stay. He tells me he wasn't going with his family but a buddy of his. I was dumbstruck. I looked at him and said you make the decision you think is best for you - go on vacation or stay with your team. Needless to say he went on vacation.

We are practicing on Sunday for our game in regional on Monday. Some of the guys asked me about this kid because he called them from the beach to find out what I was going to do. I told them he was not allowed back. He calls me late Sunday night crying saying I was kicking off the team. He could not understand he quit the team.

My point is I don't think I can tell a family when to take vacation. Surely / hopefully they are smart enough to play around the season but sometimes the job won't allow for that. If this kid had went with his family I would not have been happy but I can't stop it.

Now I do control playing time so if this does happen Little Johnny might not be playing for sometime or he is doing some running when he comes back.

Let this kid go and sit him for a game or have him do some extra running. Explain it to the team because more than likely they will understand.

It's not perfect but it pretty much works for me.
I'm a mom, not a coach but my 2 cents thinks that: 1)Family comes first
2)Mom gave you 5 months notice on this so it give you plenty of time to plan around this missing player.
3)You could make a rule that a player will sit X number of innings for a missed practice or game and stick to this- no exceptions.

As a parent, if a coach makes rules and enforces them equally I have no problem with it. If this kid is a good player and you sit him, the rest of the team will see that you mean what you say.

Did you do anything last year regarding absent players? If players were missing games and practices and still getting to play... that was where the problem started.
I'm as big on committments as anyone. I've made my kids stay with travel teams even when it became apparent that the coach was not going to live up to the commitments they made.

Having said that, I feel that family events have to have a priority as long as they are not too frequent and enough notice is given. I don't have a problem with the player being penalized - maybe something like sitting a game for each game missed. But, I would not agree with penalizing a kid by not putting him on the team.

Think of all of the unforseen circumstances that kids on your team will have and that you'll have to work around: A death in the family, injuries, academic issues, etc. Most kids would probably rather play ball than go to an 80th anniversary, even for a beloved grandparent. They would think their grandparents would understand if they weren't there and are probably begging their parents to let them stay with a friend that weekend, etc. But on this one, Mom is right. Many sacrifices are made by families for the sake of their children's activities. One weekend shouldn't hurt.
I tend to agree that a family situation as described should deserve some slack and a little "go with the flow"

a few follow up thoughts - as I can't visualize the timing on interference if fam is coming to your town

from my experiece with family coming to town I really can't see the opening game of the DH being in jepardy at all (Uncle Joe will just have gone to bed at dawn).

bump the DH up an hr, drop the mom & Grandma a note saying you'll make a "happy 80th" banner for Grandma, and get extra seating for the fam ... stock the concession stand and pray it doesn't snow

birthday party 4pm til ??

Last edited by Bee>
The solution in my eyes is simple---have them bring grandma to the game--she may never get to see him play again---as well as all the guests and after the team wins both games they can return to the house for the big party

When I ran the town youth leagues I heard the same thing regarding Mothers Day---I told them it is a great way for the grandparents to see the child play and then return to the house for dinner et al---we always had the largest crowds on Mothers Day
Last edited by TRhit
Originally posted by BillBill:
I'm as big on committments as anyone. I've made my kids stay with travel teams even when it became apparent that the coach was not going to live up to the commitments they made.

Having said that, I feel that family events have to have a priority as long as they are not too frequent and enough notice is given. I don't have a problem with the player being penalized - maybe something like sitting a game for each game missed. But, I would not agree with penalizing a kid by not putting him on the team.


For those saying bring Granny to the game - she may not be physically able to do so. Or she might. Good idea with which to approach the family, however.

If this event is in town, is it necessary for the boy to miss all three games? Seems unlikely that the bd party will last that long.
I agree that with the notice and reason given, you should probably work this out to let the kid miss the games. I also agree that inviting grandma and family is a good idea if the get together is in your town.

I coach summer baseball, and conflicts are a fact of life. Some coaches don't allow players to miss any time, or they'll be dropped from the team. Others allow a couple excused absences with advance notice. It IS a large problem, but one that has to be dealt with. I can't speak for others, but I excuse kids who are taking their "senior trips", as well as family vacations that I'm notified of in advance. The other big conflict, and one I believe all coaches should welcome, is kids missing for things like Area Code, Perfect Game National, and a few regional things we have in California like the North-South (high school summer all-star game) and Bay Area World Series (another invitation only showcase with heavy college coach scouting). If a kid is missing for those reasons, I think you have to support it, if you believe that we're doing this for the boys who play. We simply carry larger rosters in the summer to deal with these issues. That way, everyone can get time off when appropriate and everyone can also get plenty of playing opportunity.

On the other hand, I don't condone kids missing because they have "other things to do" such as the beach, GFs or other activities they'd rather do than baseball. In those situations, time on the bench is warranted, or turning in one's jersey.
This is a never ending problem with no easy solution. In this circumstance, I'd let the kid attend but would note that he isn't guaranteed anything when he returns regarding playing time. Some other player is going to play in that game and that player deserves consideration.

Our family used to have a family reunion which was also my Grandfather's Birthday celebration. He raised all of his family since his parents died in a flood. I missed that reunion one time for a baseball game. My Grandfather died a couple of weeks later. Again, I'd let the young man go.
In an event such as you described, I would let the kid go. I think family is very important and I like the advance notice you were given. As far as trips or vacations (and I am assuming you are talking about spring break)..I believe you allow a few days at the beginning for kids to go be with family and then bring them back for games or practice on about that last Thurs. or Fri. before the next week. I simply tell the kids that consider anything during practice and game times that unless they would appreciate showing up to play or practice without coaches present, we expect them to be there. When you leave, you give up your spot. It will be up to the new starter to stay in that spot, or play his way out of it. But again in this situation I let him go and start the next player and let them see if they earn the starting job.
Sorry, but this is a no brainer (assuming all the story is truth)...I say encourage him to go. Many of the problems we face in our society result from poor family foundations. Support the family's request. That 80 year old lady deserves to see all her family. And there should be no punishment, repercussions, or play time reduction...I would worry more about a kid that refused to go to the birthday party in lieu of baseball. This is a unique situation and a monumental achievement in that family.
Thanks everyone for the great input. To address some of the additional questions:

1. The family reunion is not here in town. It is about 2 1/2 hours away in Athens, Ohio. Grandma is not in ill health, and it appears from mom that her issue is not about seeing Grandma before it is too late, but that they are trying to get all the brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, etc., together.

As far as backtracking: Here's the problem. I told all the players/families that we needed to re-dedicate ourselves as a TEAM to make every practice and game important. I pointed out that after reviewing last year's practices/games, I found that out of 45 practices we only had all of our team members present at FOUR of those 45. As for games, out of 24 games, we only had our full squad at SEVEN of those games.

j2h6: " that this exception isn't habit forming"....I guess this is why I'm struggling with this situation. This is not a bad or problem kid, from what I know about him, but if I just shrug off a 3 day absence, what about the next kid who wants to miss to go to New York on a NON-MANDATORY class "fun" trip? What about a "once in a life time" chance to see the Yankees play at Cleveland? A sophomore who wants to go on a college visit? A player who's cousin is getting married? At what point do I look around and say that once again we're missing a ton of players who have made a choice to do something that is more important to them than the team? Obviously this is why I'm struggling with this situation.

Good Eye: Again, the notice is not the problem. We have 14 or 15 players on varsity and we can replace him. In fact, I don't KNOW he'll be a starter. But the point is, I am dealing with his choice to put something else before his teammates. I believe family comes first, too. But I don't think family has to come first in ALL events. If we have a player who's parent says "We eat all family meals together" and he would have to miss 4 or 5 practices a week, I don't think I can keep him; it wouldn't be fair to the players I would have to CUT who WOULD be there every day.

Also, Good Eye, I do have a rule (and have for many years)that missing a practice for an unexcused absence will result in sitting out DOUBLE the number of games you miss. (I should have mentioned this in my original post) Therefore, that player would miss three games and sit out 6....or basically a third of our season. Do I change the rule for him?

BillBill: I would absolutely excuse a kid for a death in the family and/or a significantly ill family member. They are also excused for academic reasons (SAT's/ACT'S), special classes for college, make-up tests from illnesses, academic awards ceremonies, etc.

And again, the problem isn't that "one weekend wouldn't hurt", it's "Where do I draw the line, and expect our players to be committed to being there?" I don't want to come off like Atilla The Hun, but it just seems that more and more every year, players do not seem to see Varsity sports as a committment, as a job to do, as a bonding experience with is no different to some of them than intramurals that they play solely for fun.

Bee: Love to have the family involved like would probably double our fan turnout, but it looks like this gettogether is about 2 1/2 or 3 hours away. One of my questions when I talk to the player and his family is: Isn't it possible for him to come down on Saturday afternoon AFTER the DH (which starts at 10:00 am)? He'd still get all Saturday evening and Sunday with his relatives.

CatcherDad: My policy has always been that you should not miss during the Varsity season, but we are very flexible during the summer because we expect many people to go on vacation. My players know that taking off for Spring Break is not an option because we generally have 6 games during that time. They know that if you are going to leave for Spring Break, don't bother coming out. Hasn't been an issue after the first couple of years.

If it deals with college or academics, I don't really even question it; they go. But when it is family parties, fun trips, Spring Break, intramural sports, etc., I start to bristle because I'm having to cut 25 kids, SOME of whom might NEVER miss a practice. Shouldn't being dedicated and reliable be MORE important than JUST talent? I'd rather have a less talented player give me 100% all the time, than a more talented player who misses practices and games.

hsballcoach: And that is probably what will happen if he goes. He'll likely lose his spot and may or may not win it back.

Kimosabe: Sorry, but I just can't see this as a "no brainer". Encourage him to go? I should encourage my players to leave during the season and miss games? I just don't get that. And again, this is information I didn't share before, but this is family who sees Grandma a couple of time a month and spends a 3 week vacation in the summer with her every year. And yes, she has come to a couple of games when she comes up to stay with the player and his family.

I've been playing Devil's Advocate here, because I'm still rolling around in my head what I'm going to say when I talk to him and his family. I'm sure some of you will read my post and think I'm a cantakerous, "win at all costs" coach. All I can do is assure you that I'm not. I am just continually more and more frustrated with lack of commitment by young people to their sports. I find it especially true with baseball, where it seems people see it as a "blow off" sport. They wouldn't dare miss a football or basketball game, but, ahh what the heck, it's only baseball.....

More and more good ideas from all of you...I really appreciate that, and thank goodness I have quite a while to make a decision. Thanks.
Last edited by TCB1
j2h6: " that this exception isn't habit forming"..

...back when I was coaching high school I always allowed each player 1 free pass....things happen, their teenagers....but after that they were all held accountable, anything else missed, they would have to suffer what ever the consequences.....which were spelled out to them very clearly as well as to the parents at the beginning of the season, at the end of the first day of practice. You see, I made it very clear that after that free pass there were no excused absences. All Doctor appts., dental visits, eye exams were to take place on their time not my time. I also made it very clear that at that first meeting with the parents and players that I did not want to hear from the parents. I was not here for the parents, I was here for the players. Don't get me wrong I interacted very well with the parents but by stating that up front I never once ever received a phone call from a parent asking about why Johnny was'nt playing or the kid getting his parents to call in sick for him so he could take a break or do whatever while everyone else was working hard. It's time for these boys to start growing up, taking responsibility for themselves, their actions and the decisions they make. If I'm making a total commitment to them, I simply expected the same in return, nothing more, nothing less. The statement I made was simply to say that I provide you a pass, your only pass, there will be no more excused absences for any reason. Don't expect my free pass to become habit forming as this won't be extended to you again this've now used up your one freebee.....the fact that it's over a 3 game weekend.....well you'll have to figure that one out won't you. If this is a varsity team....can't the player drive himself to the event after the games....the double header seems to be early enough, I'd imagine something should be able to be worked out. What ever you decide you need to stick to your guns, stay consistent in your actions, what ever you decide with everyone. It's a difficult decision but one that will make a statement to the entire team based on how you handle it.....
This is a good off season (for me) topic. At a time when rules can be reviewed and updated. I would like to know what other HS coaches have as their attendance/penalty rule.

My rule is missed practice is 1/2 game each miss for excused absences, and 1 game for unexcused. I present this more as a reward for those who don't miss. I also remind them that a player that takes over their position, may take over their position for good. It does have to be pointed out that this penalty is in effect with the plans for players on that day already. So, if a player was to be a late substitution they would not play at all. A starter would sit the 1/2 game.

I like how one coach put the penalty as a chance for the players who missed to get back into "baseball shape" before they got back in the line-up.

I'm also wondering if anyone has a great scenerio that helps explain to the Parents and players the need for this rule. How do you relate it to a real life situation. Here's a quote for instance about playing time and allowing the player to earn that:

Parent/ Coach Meeting:
"If I can, I want to add another thought on parents talking to the coach. Say John is working so hard to start. He puts in the time but the player ahead of him is just a little better. That player rests on his laurels and John keeps working. There comes a time when the coach has to make a decision. If John's parents approach the coach about John's playing time and then John starts, John will never receive the credit he is due from his teammates. It will appear as if the parents got that start for John. Please be careful when/how you approach the coach. John deserves the credit for his hard work and most coaches I know will come around to starting John."

That is a great scenerio, and most parents can relate. I don't remember who I'm quoting here, but I thank them for their wisdom.
Coach, you have a problem. I see your dilema about drawing the line. You are dealing with shades of grey. Try to go black and white. Here is an idea..

This will take some effort on your part..

You miss practice/game for any reason you make it up!! Period!

Schedule make up practices Saturday night at 8:00pm or 4:00am Sunday morning. Or both. It will then become a priority for the player to schedule extracurricular activities around baseball.
In your example of the 80yr thing....Do you think that kid wants to flush 4 or 5 Saturday nights???
He11 no!! You will be amazed how kids/parents can be creative in scheduling around baseball when they have an incentive.

This was my HS coaches rule, Rarely did my coach ever have to run an 8:00 Sat. night practice. I stayed home from school once during season with the flu, but my Azz found a way to get to practice!
btw, my HS coach was a GREAT GUY! Luv him to this day!
[QUOTE]Originally posted by TCB1:
Also, Good Eye, I do have a rule (and have for many years)that missing a practice for an unexcused absence will result in sitting out DOUBLE the number of games you miss. (I should have mentioned this in my original post) Therefore, that player would miss three games and sit out 6....or basically a third of our season. Do I change the rule for him?

I say go with the rule you have always had then. My guess is that this player will find a way to be there part of the weekend (if it turns out that he is a starter beforehand). It sounds as though you are very reluctant to make exceptions (and I agree that it is very hard to figure out what should be an exception and what is not) so why start now?
Originally posted by TripleDad:

Schedule make up practices Saturday night at 8:00pm or 4:00am Sunday morning. Or both. It will then become a priority for the player to schedule extracurricular activities around baseball.
In your example of the 80yr thing....Do you think that kid wants to flush 4 or 5 Saturday nights???
He11 no!! You will be amazed how kids/parents can be creative in scheduling around baseball when they have an incentive.

This was my HS coaches rule, Rarely did my coach ever have to run an 8:00 Sat. night practice. I stayed home from school once during season with the flu, but my Azz found a way to get to practice!
btw, my HS coach was a GREAT GUY! Luv him to this day!

Triple Dad,

This could be a potential punishment for the coach! He would have to be there at these times. I know I couldn't schedule a 4 AM practice!!
Last edited by good eye
j2...thanks for the input. Yes, I'm going to suggest that they try to make arrangements to be at the games, otherwise he will be missing a third of the season.

bcb3....Thats what really brought this to a head. Those numbers are correct. Many of the "misses" were very legitimate(illness, family illness/death, SAT's, Science Fair), but it still led to an awful lot of players not knowing what they should be doing.

TripleDad....I should note that in addition to players losing playing time for missing, they generally had physical punishment (read: running) that they got when they came back. Maybe I need to make the punishment more painful (similar to the Saturday night practices), but I'm afraid that just having Saturday night practices would not deter the behavior. Maybe 6 AM practices would, but they'd be killin' me too.

Good Eye....As a minimum, I'm leaning toward telling the player and his parents that he will be missing 9 games (3, plus 2x the misses), or a third of our season and that he will be losing his job and probably spending time on JV until he works his way back up to varsity.

As a maximum, I may have to tell him that if he's going to miss that much time, he may be cut from the team. I guess that really might depend on whether I have that many kids trying out who don't really deserve to be cut. If they are kids I'd want to keep, but don't have the room, maybe they'd take a job away from him.
Im kind of amazed at the number of practices missed and games missed to be honest with you. I have five seniors this coming season that will be on the varsity squad. They have never missed a single practice or game in their entire career. Last season no one missed a single practice or game excused or unexcused. It is very rare anyone ever is not at practice. If they are sick and miss school that is about the only time we have anyone miss anything.

Our team rules are the following: Excused miss - Sick not at school - must call and leave a message for the coach. Death in the family or family emergency. Must bring a note from home explaining the emergency. School work / assignment: Must have your teacher see the coach and explain the reason for the miss. If its because you did not take care of business in the first place its an unexcused miss. If its extra work that the teacher says you need to do then its excused. Unexcused miss: Any reason other than excused. There is no penalty for an excused miss.

Now if a player has a function that he says he can not miss like a birthday party etc or family outing etc we talk to the player and handle it on a case by case basis. What time is the party? Where is the party? Usually things can be worked out like moving practice etc. But to be honest with you they never say anything about missing because we just dont miss.

Our rule is one unexcused miss - sit two games. Two unexcused miss - your gone for the year.

In this situation I dont see how you can tell a kid that he can not go to his grandma's 80th birthday party. What if he doesnt go and she dies (God Forbid) before he has the chance to see her again? I would not want that on my hands. To me I would handle this as a family emergency situation. Its not the same as missing for a birthday party for your mom or dad or brother or sister. This is alot different imo.

I do have one question though. Why would a mom schedule something like this during the HS baseball season? Why not have a regular get together after the game. And then have a big shin dig during the summer when it does not confict with the HS season. JMO on that one.

Our guys just dont miss. This is my 12th year coming up. We have never had a player miss a game for any reason other than they were in the bed sick as a dog. Never for anyother reason. I honestly can not remember the last time everyone was not at practice. How can you run a program when guys come and go as they please and then when called out they have excuses etc etc. If you want to play then be there all the time or do something else.

I get a good read on kids level of committment during the summer and fall workouts. If I see them missing those I usually cut them when we have tryouts. No need to deal with it. The ones that love to play and want to work to get better would show up with the flu if you let them. The others really dont want to play imo.
You say you don't know if the player will even start.
So you really don't need him to play,you only want to make an example of him... I don't think thats fair. Its not this players fault that your players aren't showing up to practice. His family have given you plenty of advanced notice and are asking for an excused absence.
But it's NOT an excused absence by the definition that I have had in place for some time.

Telling me about it 5 months in advance doesn't make a difference. I mean, I certainly appreciate them bringing up the issue now so we can discuss it, but the point is that we are putting a lot of things ahead of our team and teammates. We want to have our cake and eat it too. We want to make the team, get to play all the time, but then when we want to miss practice or games for something that is PERSONAL to us, our teammates and coaches should just understand that and accept that we'll miss games to do what we want to do. And that we expect that there will be no consequences to our missing.

I'm not trying to make an example of this kid, I'm just trying to make everyone understand that the rules must apply to everyone EQUALLY, whether starter or role player, Junior or Senior, kid I know well or kid I've just met.

You insinuate in your post that maybe I want to make an example of him because I don't think he is a starter. Nothing could be further from the truth; I indicated in my earlier post that we brought him up as a Sophomore and he hit pretty well, so I certainly think he has some potential. No, I don't know for sure that he'll be a starter, but he has certainly given indications that he may hit as well as at least 8 other players. Please understand I would be going through these issues no matter who this player was.....
Last edited by TCB1
Perhaps saying" making an example of him "were the wrong words.
My point is that you've had problems in the pass... you want to change things and this is your first test case... you are setting the standard with him...(making an example to the rest of the team how things are going to be.)
I've never coached so I don't know the feeling of frustration you must be feeling.
Most of the parents I knew busted their butts arranging their lives around team schedules and always appreciated a coach with a little flexibility.
Once in awhile important events come up in a families life that may not seem more important than the team but really are to the family.
I have witnessed players and their parents (because the player needed transportation) miss a big family event, drive hundreds of miles, and their son sat the bench.... Why was this necessary?? If the coach knew he wasn't a starter why did he have to be there?
Many times the player doesn't have a choice whether he is at the game it is the parent who decides but its the player who is punished ....
Perhaps your rules should not list the reasons an absence will be excused, only that you as the coach will be the one who decides who is excused on a case by case bases. This would allow you some flexibility in each situation.
Last edited by njbb
You have to use a little common sense here.

Last season, we had a ton of kids miss a ton of practices/games.

There are legitimate reasons and lame reasons. You have to decide.

I'm in my 13th season as head coach. 12 winning seasons before last year; we finished 8-16.

Maybe this is an over reaction on your part. A losing season? It happens and for many reasons.
njbb....don't disagree with most of what you've said. In fact we all know parents of "travel team" ballplayers who essentially spend their whole summer bowing to their son's baseball schedule and putting their lives on hold. Nothing wrong with that, if that's what you choose to do

My disagreement with what you said is that just because a player isn't a starter, should that mean he doesn't have to show up? Everyone on the team is important for the role they play, and/or because you never know when they will be needed. If you let it be known that only the starters NEED to be there, you'll only have 9 kids show up at your game.

Will...definitely wasn't happy about having a losing season. Did I expect to never have a losing season? No. Would it have been neat,for me as the coach? Sure. But I'm not coaching for ME. I'm coaching because I love it and I love the kids and want to see them successful. And aren't we also trying to teach the kids responsibility, commitment and reliability? I think we are. Eventually, these kids will have a job, and they'll need to understand you can't take off whenever you want. I personally hope that this kid will be of the mind that he'd rather not miss the ballgames if he doesn't have to. Even if that's what ends up happening.
Last edited by TCB1
I would just take this approach. You miss games or practices you have to sit when you come back. You then have to win your posistion or playing time back. This will put the ball in the players court so to speak. If they really want to play they will not miss. If they really dont care then they wont mind riding the pine. The ones that really want to play you will not have to worry about them missing. And those are the guys you want on the field anyway. Once players see that there will be a price for not coming to practice or games they will start to police it themselves.

For the life of me I can not understand any player that really loves to play having to be forced by rules to come to practices and games. Im sure none of these types of players plan on playing past HS.

How can some guys go four years and never be late one time , never miss one practice or miss one game? Maybe these are the guys that really want to play and understand the importance of team. All the other guys are rec players with rec mentality.

This has just never been an issue with our program. Its hard for me to imagine it.
Ummm, I think Grandma's big 80th deserves to come first. A coach that wouldn't respect a milestone family event like that, and the significance of a boy paying his respects to his grandma by being present... well what can I say--I think there are exceptions to certain "rules" and this would be one.

Let parents know that you must have 4 months advanced notice of any potential absences and you will make a determination, case by case, of those that you will accept as "excused". Those that are unexcused will result in sitting the bench for a certain number of games or innings. I think this family has given you plenty of notice to make an evaluation and plan around this special, once-in-a-lifetime event.
No offense but I kind of get the impression you pretty much have your mind made up and you came on here to get people to back you. If I am wrong then I apologize but that is the feeling I am getting.

Always remember whatever happens in this case your players in the coming years are going to have birthdays, anniversaries, funerals, proms, etc... coming up. It would be nice to be in Coach May's shoes and not really have to worry about it. I wish I could be in that situation but let's face it - the vast majority of schools in the nation are not like that.

Your best bet is to use what someone said earlier about having a set amount of excused and unexcused absences. Once you reach them then you have some sort of punishment.

This way you are giving the kids enough rope to hang themselves if they are that way. This shows you are flexible yet have a system in place.

It's your team and you can do whatever you want. But remember whatever you do to do it equally and fairly. If not then you will fewer and fewer kids at your tryouts.
by nj: Isn't it being responsible to give you 5 months notice?
that responsibility door swings both ways ..
with 5 months notice even for a large family it seems like very (piz) poor planing on their part

esp since Easter break is just days earlier, kids would'a been off school, athletic events unlikely at a Catholic school, parents often take a long weekends from work ...

AND it is a traditional time for families to get together Frown

was 4 3/4 months too little notice for some family members?
but 5 months OK?
Last edited by Bee>
njbb...I don't think I ever said the player or his parents were not being responsible. Telling me about this ahead of time is greatly appreciated and it is why I'm mulling over what to do. I would have been very upset if the player knew about these plans months ahead of time and then let me know the day before he was going to go.

But the issue is his responsibility to his teammates as opposed to being "responsible" by telling me about it ahead of time. Again, maybe I was raised in a strange family, but it was always understood that if you were involved in a team sport, you would only miss in the most extreme of situations. A birthday party was not considered an extreme situation. But, I am allowing for the fact that my father was someone who very much valued team sports the way they are not valued today.

....and I absolutely value your point of view. That's why I asked this question of fellow coaches; to explore whether I was looking at this in level-headed manner and whether I was considering all of the facets of this situation.

As for my rules: the rule has always been that if you miss 3 times for unexcused reasons, you are off the team. I guess the question is whether going to a family reunion is considered an unexcused absence. It never has been in the past, so I guess those who might accuse me of just looking for "backup" when I get rid of this kid are a little off base...I am actually coming from the perspective that, in the past, he would not be on the team for missing three games for an unexcused absence. I am trying to consider whether I can resolve this WITHOUT removing him from the team.

Coach May, I agree with you so much about the attitude of players today. Especially with baseball, I feel players are very willing to miss practices/games when they never would have in the past. And that is also one of my points: If this player will easily miss three GAMES, would I not be better off with keeping a slightly less talented player who would NEVER miss a game or practice and would give you 100% every game?

Quillgirl: As previously noted, my policy for several years has been "3 strikes and you're out", so by all rules previously in place, he would be off the team IF going to the birthday party is considered an unexcused absence (which it always has been in the past). Please remember too, that that weekend IS NOT her birthday. Her birthday was 2 months ago and the date of this party is simply a date that apparently coincided with most of the relatives being able to get together. The player and his immediate family DID go down to Grandma's on her birthday to celebrate with her back in September. It was the other family members from further out of state who could not make it.....

And as I've said before, is there not the possibility of attending our game on Friday and the Saturday morning game(s), and then going down to the weekend celebration Saturday afternoon?

Coach2709...not much offense taken, but a little bit Smile As I've said numerous times, I'm trying to find a way around this and I came on this board to get input from fellow coaches. I never said I wouldn't argue my position, or that I wouldn't play Devil's Advocate. I never said I would let anyone convince me. I simply said I wanted to get a dialogue going so that I was sure I was looking at every possible angle. I thought that was what the Coach's Forum was about.

And as I've said many times, the question is, after laying down the law THIS YEAR about how I have to tighten things up from last year, I'm getting a player who is putting me in a position where I have to go THE OTHER WAY, and cut him more slack than what I've done in past years.

I don't think I've ever been unfair to my players, although, as every Coach knows, just because YOU think you treat your players fairly, that doesn't mean they or their parents feel that way. I am trying to apply rules fairly to all my players and not let anyone get special treatment. If I DO consider this event an excused absence, then don't I have to consider ANY family birthday or reunion an excused absence, to be fair and equitable? If so, and I have 15 different players missing a practice/game or two, what will I have then? I guess I'm concerned about the proverbial "slippery slope" where, instead of cracking down to make sure players miss fewer practices/games, I create a situation where I am unable to keep them from missing MORE.

Bee...exactly. I am concerned that when the family discussed rescheduling this thing, a nephew missing a few ball games was considered a big deal. And as I've noted, Grandma is not in ill health; they were not concerned about putting off this thing for 6 months. And, honestly, I consider it more of a family reunion that Grandma's birthday party as that seemed to be the focus of Mom's email...the fact that all her brother's and sisters were coming in to town. Which again makes me question: how much would the player miss out if he didn't come down to the reunion until about 24 hours later than most of his aunts, uncles and cousins?

Again, appreciate all your input. I'm using you all to "push" me and "stretch" me to make sure that I consider all the alternatives and, honestly, to consider how this will affect the family in question, all the other players on the team, and myself and my coaching staff.
Last edited by TCB1
This may well seem too simplistic, and this is coming from a parent, not a coach, but I would say that you allow each player's family one excused absence (1 game), the family will decide what is ABSOLUTELY necessary. You do not need to know the details, but they get just one. As this player's family has all of these months to contemplate their decision, perhaps they may come to a different decision or make an adjustment to their plans.
In any case, the ball is in their court. Let them know there will have to be make-ups for the other two games (whatever you decide), before the kid could return to his team status before the missed games. As a parent, I would weigh this against the planned trip as is, and perhaps after discussing it with son, make alternate arrangements to try to get back for whatever we could.

I will say this though, as a parent of a three sport athlete in his high school years, I don't really think the coaches appreciated what we as a family not only gave up because of sports, but sometimes they were downright ambivillant about the super human efforts our family made to accomadate each coach. Our kid was often on the road at 4 or 5:00am to play a game - multiple games (basketball)(tournaments) participate, jump in car sweaty, exhausted and starving, falling asleep as we raced to a double header where he was expected to jump out of the car and pitch a game, or if he did not pitch play both games every inning.

My point is - and this was prior to high school - the coaches only cared that he was there, did not care what we had gone through to get him there, or what family events we did not attend...we gave up a lot and looking back I think it was crazy. After getting to high school he was protected by whatever sport he was in at the time so it was better.

I was particulary disappointed after we had established ourselves as the ones who were always there, when son became ill with flu (very serious) when told that the only appt we could get with our doctor was during practice time, coach suggested that we go to emergency room after practice, not only was I ****ed that he thought so little of my son to suggest he postpone an urgent appt, but to assume that we could afford an emergency room visit!
I was not a happy camper, but guess what, son went to practice - sat in complete delerium - and the whole team ended up getting the flu - which led to greater problems for the coach.

Use common sense and be fair, if someone abuses the rules, dish out the consequences. If families have real needs, then give them their one pass, and let them figure out how they will deal with any more.
TCB, Sorry I didn't realize they'd already gone down to celebrate the birthday with grandma earlier. So the boy has paid his respects. That makes a difference in my thoughts.

STILL, it might be about some other problem for the family. If there are relatives coming from all corners of the earth and they haven't seen each other for years, again, it might be this family's only opportunity to connect for a long time. It's hard to judge what is of great importance to one family based on your own. Also, maybe it's not even a matter of the family needing the boy to attend the reunion/party but the fact that they'd have to leave him at home alone for the weekend because the rest of them will attend. And, really, it's not a regular birthday party here. It's a milestone gathering for the matriarch of the family-- not much different from a wedding or other important event. Would being in his sister's or cousin's wedding be excused, or would he have to decline that in order to play in his games?

I guess I'm saying that sometimes families have special circumstances that require flexibility. I am a firm believer in team commitment, but call us clannish southerners, we also believe family commitments trump everything else. (Not every family gathering is important enough to miss practices or games, but certain ones are.) If that family is loyal and committed other than this one request, then I'd have to think long and hard about making them choose between team and family.
Again, thanks for all the input....

I ran into the player last night and talked to him personally. As a Junior in high school, I felt it would be good to talk to him directly to find out what he knows about the situation.

He indicated that his mom hadn't told him anything about the re-scheduled date for the family get together. In his words, "Probably because she knows I'm going to fight her about it".

I told him about the policy of sitting double the number of games missed, and he said of course that he knew about it and would discuss things with his parents. I let him know that I would not have a problem if he could make it for the Friday game and the first game of the DH on Saturday as we generally try to get everyone in on DH's, and he would probably sit one game anyway.

I guess that was my compromise: be there for 2 games and you can leave early on Saturday for your family reunion, without loss of playing time. I even offered the suggestion of driving him 1/2 way to the family reunion later Saturday if he wanted to stay for both games.

We'll see what happens.

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