High school basketball is now in its second week of preseason and most squad selections have been made. Many players and parents have signed parent, player, coach and school contracts to participate.
As a basketball coach I always had “Four Cardinal Rules” that parents were expected to follow. I also had this in place for my coaches when I was an athletic director.
The Four Cardinal Rules which should be part of the parent, player, coach, and school contract are: 1. playing time, 2. squad selection, 3. team strategy and 4. other players on the team. The parents and players sign the contract.
Coaches were also expected to not talk to parents about these four rules.
The players could ask the coach about the first three rules at anytime, but it had to be done in front of the entire team.
Coaches were encouraged to have a meeting of all candidates cut the very next day after each cut. At this meeting coaches would tell the candidate why they were cut in front of the other candidates cut. The week of determining who makes the teams at the varsity, JV and freshman levels was the hardest week of the season for me as a coach.
The biggest concern that most parents have is playing time. Most players know who should be playing as they are at practice everyday. They know who is the most coachable, who are the best offensive and defensive players, and who plays the best. They know who tries to follow these game plans, who accepts their roles and who works the hardest.
They know, in most cases, who should be getting playing time.
Usually, it is the parents of players not receiving the playing time who want the player to ask the coach why they are not getting the playing time the parents think they should receive.
If the player asks, in front of the entire team, it is the player’s responsibility to inform the parents what the coach said in front of others.
Coaches are hired to be fired, especially if they are not backed by their athletic director, principal, superintendent and school committees. Many coaches may be doomed to be not rehired. This is a very polite way to fire a coach, as coaches’ contracts are renewed on a yearly basis. If no reason is given for not being rehired, the coach has no protection from the politics of playing time.
That is why a coach should be very wary taking a coaching job if the school does not have the Four Cardinal Rules in the school’s contract. If they don’t, then eventually, when the right parent complains, the coach’s contract may not be renewed.
I never took a coaching or AD job if I was not guaranteed that parents had to follow the Four Cardinal Rules and the school’s administration would back and support me, regardless of who complained.
The old Aaron Tippens country song, “If You Don’t Stand For Something, You Will Fall for Anything” has always been my coaching motto. Several times I had to be willing to threaten to resign if I was not supported by the administration concerning the Four Cardinal Rules in the contract. When threatening to do this, I was always backed.
AAU, MBR, MB Nation, MAC, YBOA and travel team coaches have a great advantage as they do not have to deal with parents about playing time.
High school athletics were put into the high school interscholastic athletic programs to teach life lessons and life skills that cannot be taught or learned in academic classes.
If high school athletic programs are not doing this, then all they have in most cases are high-priced intramurals. The foundation of any athletic program that teaches these life skills and lessons are the Four Cardinal Rules.
Bob Cimbollek is a retired high school basketball coach and former high school and college basketball official.