Brett Favre, an NFL legend who played 20 seasons of pro football for the Green Bay Packers, New York Jets and Minnesota Vikings, needed just one week on the job as offensive coordinator of the Hattiesburg (Miss.) Oak Grove High football team, to go against the mantra of thousands of varsity coaches across the nation.
In an interview with Hattiesburg NBC affiliate WDAM, the 42-year-old legend said "I think all of our guys are going to play. I couldn't tell you time, and I've told all of our kids the same thing. I want everybody to play."
Typically, at the varsity level, the idea that "everyone gets to play," gets thrown to the wayside. Like it or not, "fair and equal" playing time usually ends by the time a student-athlete is out of middle school, as veteran players begin to earn more time in action based on skill and athletic ability.
Is Favre Making The Correct Decision?
Playing time is a huge issue in youth sports. Student-athletes join teams because they want to perform and compete, not sit on the sidelines. However, most varsity coaches let their athletes know the deal in advance that playing time will be based on skill, in order to prevent any feelings from being hurt.
One of the main issues a youth coach has to deal with is managing playing time. I disagree with Favre's comments that everyone on the team will play, regardless of skill level, because varsity sports are competitive and not instructional or recreational.
While this may sound harsh, it's simply the reality of sports. Athletes that are lower in skill level should remain in the junior varsity ranks to earn more regular playing time, while continuing to develop their skills.
When an athlete hits the varsity level, there is more of an emphasis on winning, and the idea of equal playing time often gets throw out the window. If this is a major issue for an athlete, they can always join a recreational league, where "having fun" has more importance than winning games.
During my time as a lacrosse player at Glen Cove High School in Glen Cove, NY, I rode the bench in my freshman and sophomore years, while the juniors and seniors dominated the playing time. I feel that is the way it should be, as players need to pay their dues, and playing time should go to the veterans on the roster.
Favre's Team Is Young and Inexperienced. Should That Make A Difference?
"I want everyone to offer something that I think that they have," Favre added. "The biggest thing to me in this coaching process is to maximize the potential we have, because the kids don't really know what they're capable of."
The only thing that saves Favre from the firestorm he created with these comments is the fact that he has a very young team, which means he won't be bothering any seniors who would otherwise have their playing time limited according to his plans.
"We got one returning starter," Favre added. "I'm not going to sit here and sugarcoat it. I would love to win every game. Is that possible? I'm going to say 'it's possible,' but it's going to be tough. [We have] one experienced guy, so we have our work cut out for us."
Should equal playing time be emphasized in varsity high school sports? Is Favre making the wrong decision by giving everyone a chance to play? Let me know in the comments.
Eric Holden has been covering high school sports since 2009. He is also a lifelong New York Jets fan and appreciated Brett Favre's stint in the Big Apple in 2008. Follow him on Twitter @ericholden.
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