Open Letter To Parents Of Kids Who Get A Lot Of Playing Time

Asia Mape
In Learn
By Asia Mape | January 26, 2019

My son started playing basketball at 8-years old, he’s now 15 and is on his high school team. He’s done everything your son has and so have we. He’s attended the camps, the trainings, the practices, the games. So have we. We pay for the uniforms, the hotels, the camps, the trainings, the gear…just like you. But there’s one difference. Our son sits on the bench and yours plays.

In two years, he’s racked up a total of approximately 20 minutes. That’s one half of one game. Yet, we are at all the games, supporting the team and the other players. We clap and cheer, fundraise, bring food on our nights, drive teammates who need rides. And we do all of this because our son loves playing basketball and because it is his desire and his dream and hope that one day he will get to play more often. But it doesn’t mean that tears haven’t been shed, that car rides home haven’t been long and quiet or that I haven’t had to hold back my screams to put my son into the game when we are up by twenty points.

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And it also doesn’t make it any easier to hear your loud complaining from you, that the coach took your son out twice and why should he get subbed out over so and so or how he got snubbed from the all-conference team. WE ARE SITTING RIGHT NEXT TO YOU! I get that we all have our own challenges, but please try and be respectful and remember that just because we are all now so used to our son not getting into the games, that it doesn’t make it any easier or less painful each game he doesn’t play. We still show up. We come and sit and watch your sons play.  

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Secretly, we wouldn’t mind one bit if he stopped playing. We could spend some time together as a family, instead of  driving to practices, games,  and to Timbuktu to watch your sons play.

You see we aren’t as passionate, strong willed or committed as our son. He loves this sport. He loves it so much that he’s willing to show up, practice after practice, game after game. So we support him. And we support your sons and cheer for them as though they belong to us too.

But please, try and have some respect for what we do and what our son does. Remember that it isn’t easy and that if it wasn’t for my son, your son wouldn’t be as good, he wouldn’t have someone pushing him in practice or cheering for him from the bench, or there to pat your son on the back and tell him it’s ok when he’s having a bad game.


The parents of the benchwarmers, backups, and brave boys and girls who are always stuck on the sidelines


  1. First of all, my English is not that great so please try to have patience and understand. I have a son who is a benchwarmer who is struggling and stressing out lately even attend to practice. It’s critical that he ‘s a Junior player and won’t get in the game. Just like Asia’s letter, we have done that travel team and camps many years. I totally agreed with Candi. “It is the school’s responsibility to focus on the student’s growth as a player.” However many high school hires coach for their fame or glory so the focus is not on the student’s growth as a player unfortunately …that’s how I feel. Oh and there’s something else that many parents already know “Coach’s favoritisms” that’s something we can’t control.

    My husband and I try to talk to our son and let him know that “there’re so many other players who is good as one who made in Varsity like you didn’t make it and it’s such an honor that you made it in!!” and there’s many kids doesn’t get parents support as much or even can’t do any activities financially. He understand and try to stay possitive. But it hurt as parent to watch him “when they won the game and all the players who played in the game are jumping and screaming happily”. He can’t really feels anything even he cheered his teammates.

    My husband and I talked many hours over this situation and try to find solutions. So here’s what we learned. We’re all learning and growing together right now but this is the reality that something you can’t change or something you need to be patient until YOUR TIME will come. (might not come.) One day he might face difficulty himself in his life and hope that he’s able to stay positive and get through the tough situation like this or even more tougher. Hope he’ll remember that his dad and mom were there to fight through it. 😉 All I can say to the parents of benchwarmers or even to the player who didn’t get pick for the team Hanging there with them! This is the life lesson and hopefully your kid will remember the time we were there with them. Hopefully they earned more strength or eagerness and use as leverage to even move forward to what they want to do in their life!!

    • Ayumi,
      Thank you so much for that feedback. I love your perspective and you are correct. There are so many good things that can come out of tough situations – usually we learn most from the losses and tough situations than the good ones! I would also add that he needs to find, define, and embrace his role on the team. Even if he’s not playing a lot, there is so much he can add to his team and he should also be celebrating because each and every player on a team has a part and a role in every single victory.

  2. I think thi was this issue represents a system that COULD and SHOULD be improved. The time, energy and treasure cost to kids and parents is HUGE. There is something between trophies for everyone and constant benching. There is scheduling a couple of scrimmages games where the bench starts and the starters bench. After all, if there are so many wonderful lessons on the bench (as parents are told while shelling out huge bucks), then starters should learn those character building lessons too.

    Plus, the coaches of benched kids might have interfered with the kid getting a part in the school play, trying a new sport, getting an A (all that practice for the bench earned him a B in science), or even his first job at a local Mc Donald’s. Anyone who is under 18 and playing a sport is still a kid, and their development , their time and their parents resources should be respected.

    Optimally, coaches should be upfront early on about a kid’s likely role on the team so parents and kids can make an informed decision.

  3. Thank you for this article. My son plays baseball. He has played since ye was 4 yrs. He is now 13. My son is one of them players who starts every game, and plays all of every game. However this year in school baseball is when we were on a team that some of the kids dont ever get to play. And I hate that. It’s not fair to anyone. I understand to some point. But how are the ones who sit the bench all the time suppose to get better if the coach doesnt give them a chance. There has been a few times that my son ask to sit a inning so a different kid can play even if it’s just for 1 or 2 plays. I’m not going to pretend like he does this often, he has only done it twice. But I wish there was a way where everyone gets to play. But I thank you and everyone who play on a team playing and who is supporting there team mates. Your right without the ones there pushing them to play at there best. Who knows where we would be. So again thank you!!

    • Thank your for your comment Shelley! And yes it is tough and it’s commendable that your son even offered that twice!! Not sure there’s a solve. Once you get to the high school level, there’s a shift away from development and towards winning.

  4. Thank you for putting into words exactly what we feel. This describes our high school ice hockey experience except that we have been fortunate to have extremely supportive parents of the kids who get most of the ice time. And it is reflected in their players who are also really supportive and encouraging of our son and his fellow “bench warmers”.

    • Thank you for your comment! If you think about it, there are more ‘bench warmers’ then starters. So just know you’re not alone! And thank you for all you are doing to support your team and your child!

      • I feel you. However, I feel this letter should be directed to your coach and athletic director. It is the school’s responsibility to focus on the student’s growth as a player. It shouldn’t be a out the win. I have 2 starters and one is team captain this year. I am the loudest Mom out there,,cheering for every one of them. I believe in strengthening the the weak and boosting their confidence. I can’t stand seeing any kid sit out the entire game and I voice my opinion. Kids join sports to have fun and to progress. This should be happening on every team. And not just when the score is safe enough. Please talk to your school and insure that they follow CIF rules of building the athlete, and not the score.
        I hope and pray that your athlete doesn’t lose confidence and is able to thrive! ❤


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