I coach a team (that my child is on) and help to organize team necessities, including team payments.
Last year, a child on our team lost a parent and grandparent in quick succession. The family was understandably heartbroken and in a bind financially.
The coaches all decided to forgo the child’s team expenses for the year (everyone else was charged more). We figured that it was the right thing to do.
This is a competitive travel team, and the child made the team again this year. The parent said nothing about not being able to afford the team fees. After a few months of nonpayment, I contacted the parent.
The parent reminded me of their loss, and said that they should not pay because they hadn’t paid last year. I said that last year was different because the child was already on the team. I said the parent had had time to either budget for the travel team or choose to have the child play in a less expensive league.
The parent was very angry. The other coaches and I agreed to cut this child’s fee drastically (one-third what everyone else is paying, about $200). The parent still has not paid.
Amy, I hate to take this out on a child, but I am faced with either asking the child to leave the team, or playing the child last all year. I’d hate to do both.
It seems like a petty amount, but now I feel like the team is being taken advantage of. What would you do?— Wondering Coach
Rereading this column, I am sure the reason I saved it is twofold. One, to always remember to give back. Growing up below the poverty line, I was never involved in sports or extracurricular actives. Okay, real life moment, I did enroll in Book-It (it was free). I love books. It is true that reading is an escape to anywhere, and the Boxcar Children and the Babysitter’s Club helped me escape my hellish childhood. An added bonus was that the prize was always a personal size pizza. That was like a gold medal for a child like me, seeing that more often than not my daily meal was school lunch. The second reason I saved it was to share with my students as a “What would you do?” question. I believe that talking over such scenarios is essential in creating a well-rounded social worker, because there is rarely black and white in my profession. There are many more shades of gray. What would you do in this situation?