My son just finished a complete wash “0-6” of a football season at Pelican Park in Mandeville, LA. We have lived many places and played in many youth programs and Pelican Park is the cream of the crop – trust me on this. So how did a “random draft” of 12 year olds create a team that should have had the “mercy score” rule enforced after the first quarter of each game come to be? And why is it some coaches continued to humiliate my kid’s team by keeping their starters in and running up the score? And why did one coach have to publicly announce in front of the parents of the opposing team and his players that he was going to pull everyone out to give us a break? How do some teams “stay together” year after year when there is a draft? Some has to do with testosterone, lack of tact, politics or maybe just plain ignorance.

I really don’t know the answer to any of these questions or if there will be a perfect system for creating fair and balanced team at recreational leagues. I only know what I saw and experienced from the eyes of a parent on a team with the deck stacked against them. Our coach was there every practice and put his heart into it. Neither hubby or myself coached, so we need to hush on our criticism. Unfortunately, my son has written off football as this was his first and last year playing at Pelican Park. A bye during the playoffs would have been nice so we didn’t have to get annihilated by the #1 seeded team. But hey – it is basketball season already. Cross your fingers we have a decent season. Go Timberwolves!

Tell me readers, how would you create the perfect balanced football league?

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3 Replies to “The perfect youth football league”

  1. What a travesty! It is an awful shame that the league coordinators at Pelican Park couldn’t put together a more equitable league in terms of talent distribution.

    Back in 1999 (when I was a 17 year-old high school senior) I coached a football team for the St. Peter’s School 6th-8th grade football league. My brother played on the team, and I was solicited for the position when the league found itself with one fewer coach than it had teams.

    I don’t know exactly how teams were selected (it was a supposedly random draft lottery), or how the scheduling was done.

    That said, my team — “the Rebels” — got off to a convincing 3-0 start to the season. We finished the year at 9-2, winning the league championship in (mostly) dominating fashion. In addition to winning the league championship, every child on the team scored at least one touchdown during the course of the season.

    Lopsided games are not always the result of ‘running up the score’. Although, for the sake of full disclosure, our team was accused of doing just that on more than one occasion. What often happens is that if a team builds an early lead, the complexion of the game changes and the other team is forced to start passing more than would be ideal, which (at least in our case) often resulted in interceptions that were frequently returned for touchdowns. It’s not that we were trying to keep scoring, sometimes it just happened.

    For what it’s worth, the team we beat in the championship game had beaten us 26-0 in our only previous meeting that year.

    Sometimes, the issue is less one of talent than it is coaching and motivation. Some people just aren’t natural ‘chess players’, and others simply lack a fundamental understanding of the game being played and the various strategic dynamics that must be considered by a coach in order to be successful.

    Sometimes the team has the right players, but has them at the wrong positions. For example, my team’s quarterback was also our biggest and best blocker. However, we had other guys who could block but no one with anywhere near the kind of arm this kid had.

    As far as Pelican Park goes, I cannot speak to the nature of the problem as I have had no first-hand experience with their league. Hopefully, you’ll voice your complaint to the park officials and they will resolve the issue.

    Aside from that, I’ve often thought about coaching another youth football team. Perhaps next year I’ll inquire about my potential usefulness to the parents and kids at Pelican Park.

  2. Have you ever thought to contact Pelican Park with your questions (and I mean in a way that is respectful and not accusatory)? I have heard nothing but good things about the way they run their facility and in my experience, they were a pleasure to talk to and happy to answer any of my questions. The problem is almost always with the parents who don’t bother to get involved in an organization that requires volunteers to function. If you have a problem, offer to coach! Or volunteer to help your coach!

    If you want a professional coach, pay to send your kid to a sports camp. They do RECREATIONAL sports. You know, for fun! I love going to the games where even the losing team leaves with a huge smile on their faces.

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