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What To Do When Donors Are Influencing A Coach

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This resource stems from a question submitted to the Ask PCA blog. Responses come from our experts including PCA Trainers, who lead live group workshops for coaches, parents, administrators and student-athletes.

"On our public high school varsity team, there are some parents who are big donors, take the coach to dinner and buy him expensive gifts. Lo and behold their child is 'spotlighted' on the field. Any advice on what we can do?"

PCA Response by Joe Scally, PCA Trainer–Chicago
This coach may be violating ethical standards or school district rules, but unless that is clearly demonstrable, there is likely little you can do to change the coach's behavior.

While you can’t control how the coach spotlights athletes or hands out accolades, you can influence how your child takes valuable life lessons from the situation. First, assess how the coach impacts your child. Sometimes, we as parents are more affected by these issues than our children are.

If your child is suffering from the coach’s behavior, help put the problem in perspective. If he or she can learn from this season how to have a positive attitude in the face of adversity, to keep working hard and to support everyone on the team, those are all useful skills for later life, when there will not always be a level playing field for securing jobs, raises, promotions, etc.

Of course, if the coach’s actions are causing harm you may need to talk directly with the coach or an administrator, but first give your child the valuable opportunity to struggle with this challenge. In the long run, what your child learns from this experience will be far more valuable than any accolade he or she can receive.

Download a printable version of this resource, including any additional commentary from PCA, by clicking the PDF below. To read more questions and answers like this, or to submit your own question to the Ask PCA blog, click here.

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