Will youth sports disputes be improved by the intervention of the courts?

When Audrey Dimitrew won a spot on a club volleyball team in Chantilly, Va., the 16-year-old hoped to impress varsity coaches and possibly college coaches.

But when her coach benched her and the league told her she couldn’t join another team, the action shifted from one court to another — she and her family sued.

…The lawsuit is one of a number filed across the country in recent years as families have increasingly turned to the courts to intervene in youth sports disputes. Parents upset that their children have been cut, benched, yelled at by coaches or even fouled too hard are asking judges to referee.

The culture that is American youth sports, there is more here, via Michael Rosenwald.


Someday this will apply to blog comments :D

You'll be hearing from my lawyer about this remark

[3 comments removed.]

Actually I have twice been threatened with lawsuits for comments I've made on forums online. I kind of wish they would, I mean nobody would take it pro bono and my insurer would pick up the legal defense, so I would have succeeded in making someone so mad as to get them to spend 20k to try and set things even.

I'd troll them in depositions too - my insurer would be picking up any costs, my only interest in the matter is having a little fun...

What sort of insurance policy do you have?

I'd like to meet his tail...er, broker.

"What sort of insurance policy do you have?"

Probably a personal umbrella policy. Look it up.

Do they provide protection against online libel suits? Is there a precedent?

I think it is pretty common for renter's insurance (and presumably homeowner's too) to provide some level of liability protection.

Actually I have twice been threatened with lawsuits for comments I’ve made on forums online.

Did the guy demand your contact information and sign himself 'Richard W. Comerford'?

yes, this is what happens


It sound a win. No one will believe that retraction. The damage is done.

Sounds like he destroyed the SJCs in court. I wish it happened more often.

I believe it was part of a settlement, but yes the damage is done.

'I mean nobody would take it pro bono'

Depends - check out http://popehat.com/

Are the children as childish as the parents?

They may not be yet, but don't worry: they will learn eventually.

Why does American families invest so much in youth sports? The probability that these teenagers will end up with a injury before a contract is more likely the case... I just don't get it. Someone explain this asinine fascination to me.

I don't know, but in our school district we found out they had literally 19 football coaches for the varsity team - seriously. We found this out when the team got in trouble for sticking stuff up each others bungholes and they "censored" a bunch of the coaches for encouraging it. Nobody got fired though, that was a shame.

they “censored” a bunch of the coaches for encouraging it. Nobody got fired though, that was a shame.

That sounds strangely familiar...


My high school in semi-rural Georgia had 19 football coaches all the way back in 1986.

I had a friend who was offered a coordinator position at Serra in the Bay Area, it wasn't paid, he doesn't even have kids and his incentive was networking. I think they already had a dozen coaches, all but a couple were volunteers.

A lot of them are just coaching a single position.

College scholarships/admittance

For real

Even at the very best academic schools, a potential varsity athlete is viewed in a positive light by the admissions department.

Correct. Finding a way to reduce the amount of cash one or one's family spends on the post-high-school credential would help to reduce the incentive here. Right, Tyler?

MRU supporter

20 families spend 50K each on a child's sports and one of the 20 gets a scholarship.

A kid who is a successful jock is better for your water cooler weight than a BMW, man. Its kind of a verification of you genetic status.

Also in many cases, unlived life of the parent gets pushed onto the kid. If only I had just worked a little harder in high school, I'd have played for the 49ers, man.

Americans do not "invest" in sports; they consume youth sports. We are a wealthy society that can afford to do so. Apparently, we are now wealthy enough to consume legal resources to adjudicate matters such as youth sports (and gay wedding cakes too by the way). It's all very entertaining, and wealthy societies consume a lot of entertainment.

You've forgotten Blair Hornstine, whose father was not only a member of the bar, but a frigging judge. The high school superachiever for whom being merely the co-valedictorian was unacceptable is now a member of the bar, working in a modest firm in which her father is of counsel. She ended up precisely the same place as the junior high school stoner in my old circle of friends. Of course, he's better company without a doubt, quite athletic, and long married to someone who seems to please him immensely. Them's the wages of not being stupidly contentious and competitive.

You seem to be under the mistaken impression that kids are pushed into sports. There's a little of that with younger kids, but by the time you're talking about 10-year olds, the kids are generally pretty into it. This isn't violin practice; there's a lot of social acceptance and status that comes with sports participation for them.

I think very few parents with kids in Little League have any illusions about their progeny's scholarship prospects. They might be thinking the kid needs activities to get into school, but not that he's going to get a ride anywhere.

You have to see it together with what's happened in schools. The schools have gradually become more and more disciplined - more "sit down and shut up" places; the playground is more and more regulated. Sports are still a chance for the boys to be boys.

I wish I had the sports experience my kids get, back when I was in school. I'd dread the school experience my kids get.

"I wish I had the sports experience my kids get, back when I was in school. I’d dread the school experience my kids get."

A lot of truth in that. To much money is wasted on sports but they are doing away with unregulated play time at the schools in my area.

Put it another way, it is hard to find kids playing sports in any place other than schools or other regulated leagues these days. Nobody grabs a ball and just goes out to play anymore.

The old basketball/track/soccer field at my high school was turned into a baseball field with fences, walls and locked doors. No kids are going to play there because they don't have the key to the lock.

Everyone gets a trophy is preferable to this.

In .0001% of the cases that lose, randomly sentence the losing plaintiff to the death penalty. Courts will be cleared.

Apply this solution to traffic tickets too and you've just solved road congestion.

Sometimes the cop too, and I'd say you're right.

And what's the end state even if daughter DOES get into school on a volleyball scholarship?

Best case, she'd still be my workout instructor at Crossfit in 10 years..

She'll be far less debt-ridden - which is why she'll be at Crossfit instead of slinging coffees

She can wear shorts and play professionally in Iran?

One of my sisters' classmates played volleyball in college (won a national championship), then played pro in Europe for ten years. 20 years after college, she's a personal trainer to the stars in LA, which I think is a bit more lucrative than leading CrossFit classes.

Turns out this is not at all atypical.

Atypical: not representative of a type, group, or class.

Atypical: your sisters' classmates volleyball career.

Point being that more than a few college volleyball players have similar careers. Not atypical for that population.

How's a varsity coach different from a college coach? Americanisms confuse me.

Varsity coaches would typically refer to those who coach high school teams rather than college level

In college, varsity means "highest-level school team," right? To distinguish it from junior varsity (lower-level team), or club (might contain people not affiliated with the school, less implication of competitiveness), or intramural (teams that played within the school).

Yessssssss, but most colleges don't have JV sports programs - or at least only in very few sports - like crew. If there are secondary teams, they're typically club level programs.

95% of the time, when an American is referring to a "varsity" coach, he's talking about a coach of a high school upper level team. Almost all sports in high school have varsity/jv levels - and many would also offer "freshmen" levels depending on the sport and size of the school

At my university the distinction was mostly between club sports and varsity sports. Varsity was more prestigious, and had better funding. There weren't many JV teams, as you say.

I've never heard that varsity was a high-school specific term, but I could easily be out of touch.

Strange. I thought varsity derived from University.

In America, varsity is a term used both in high school and college.

Generally, "Junior Varsity" = a team composed of players in their first two years.

"Varsity" = a team composed of players in their last two years.

Since both high school and college are 4-years in America, the same term is used. Of course, if you are really good, you will be playing varsity even in your first and second years.

Add to what everyone else said in some colleges a varsity sport is one that offers a scholarship as opposed to intramural sports which don't compete with clubs from other schools and don't offer scholarships.

Thanks everyone for educating me about the complexities of American sports life.

…The lawsuit is one of a number filed across the country in recent years as families have increasingly turned to the courts to intervene in youth sports disputes. Parents upset that their children have been cut, benched, yelled at by coaches or even fouled too hard are asking judges to referee.

Some people have a wretched excess of disposable income, time, and contentiousness. Some lawyers are hard-up enough for clients that they take these cases on the off chance they can screw some greenmail out of some corporate body. What's a business or a philanthropy but a honey pot for your local knave of torts?

I played lots of sports growing up. One benefit is that it taught me how to deal with failure. Perhaps part of the problem is that parents are trying to protect their children from failure.


Of course I was on the wrestling team where who made varsity was determined by a simple rule: whoever won the wrestle off that week. Not much parents could complain about when they can literally see their kid being used to wipe the floor.

Wrestling is an underrated sport. Highly recommended.

'“Should CHRVA allow players the ability to move teams when they are unhappy with the amount of playtime they are receiving, we would be overwhelmed with requests to change teams,” a CHRVA official wrote to the Dimitrews.'

One imagines that professional league officials said the same thing in the era before free agency.

CHRVA has way more players than any professional sports league. It has less employees than any single team in professional sports.

It wouldn't seem to require much effort to let players and coaches make their own transfer arrangements, subject to roster limits.

Um... but we're all agreed that the courts SHOULD adjudicate whether people "foul too hard", yes?

We had a case near here where a soccer ref was related to a team's coach. That team kicked the other team's best players without getting yellow or red cards.

I followed this because my kids are little, still.

There is no great stagnation!

The parental financial commitment starts so early and is so large for a hockey player that it can be the biggest family expense for years. It's inevitable that some parent that can afford that expense and then some has paid a college coach to offer a scholarship to their son and give him some playing time. It's just a matter of time before somebody, hopefully me, gets proof of this and writes the story.

If your hockey expense is greater than your housing expense, you're doing it wrong.

"Will youth sports disputes be improved by the intervention of the courts?"

Hahaha ... I thought April Fools Day fell on the 1st of April

Is there a cognate to "self-recommending" called "self-answering"?


I was ready to pile on the parents, but the story as reported puts them in a sympathetic light. The association had the kids sign "contracts" with teams in the league. I'm confident it was impressed upon the families that participation was a big commitment and their obligations under those contracts were to be taken very seriously. Well, then don't be surprised when parents treat disputes about promises they think were made to them accordingly.

Note that the specific case described in the post is not really a "sports dispute" - what is in question has nothing to do with the sport itself, it is more a kind of "labor dispute"

More data showing that sports are very important to people in the USA. So can we really say that Blacks in the USA do not do so well?

My actual judgement of this depends on the relevant law and the detailed facts. But on its face, the lawsuit seems righteous.

... her coach benched her and the league told her she couldn’t join another team,

Why should the league (a kind of cartel) be allowed to stop her from joining another team if that team wants her? The coach's action might or might not be caprice. But the cartel looks like it is enforcing the right of coaches to capricously cut off all options for players.

This is kinda weird.

How can one team, who don’t even want to play you, stop you walking away to play somewhere else?

I can understand it if there is some sort of rotation of the players but it seems not in this case.

Maybe the family should have read the small print but it does seem unreasonable.

Comments for this post are closed