Letter: Volunteer coach questions lopsided scoring in youth league

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To the editor:

I have been a volunteer coach in the Southington Youth Basketbal League (SYBA) for the past 10 years. For three years at the high school division, I have advocated for much-needed reform in league administration practices and procedures…without success.

I have asked that the arbitrary director-coach form of league leadership be replaced by a more inclusive, more common system, where all coaches share in all rule creation, revision, and enforcement. A system where officers are elected, bylaws are adopted, yearly coaches meetings are held, and a mission statement is established, detailing clear moral and ethical directives and expectations for all those involved.

I’ve suggested that coaches sign a coaching agreement, agreeing not to engage in the unsportsmanlike practice of running up scores, resulting in the humiliation of other teams, coaches, and kids. When teams win by over 50 points in a single game—as happened multiple times this past year—what lessons are taught when such a preventable thrashing occurs in a youth instructional league?

Certainly, I have argued, this does not teach the principles of respect or good sportsmanship. Additionally, I have suggested that, in order to attract and more importantly to keep young volunteer coaches in this league, we need to actively encourage their inclusion, not send them away as was seemingly done this year with a new rule prohibiting anyone under 26 years of age from being considered for volunteer coaching positions.

I’ve considered all of these simple suggestions to be commonsense ideas that would ensure fair and equal treatment for all coaches and all kids. This system would certainly offer transparency—and most importantly—accountability to those kids it’s designed to serve.

Unfortunately, I have learned that speaking up for what I believe is in the best shared interest of all in this youth league has not come without a price. I sincerely hope it doesn’t take another three years before league and town officials realize that very simple, positive changes would clearly benefit the kids in this league and this town.

Tim Brennan, Southington

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