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Selecting All-Star Teams: A Better, Fairer Way

  1. Every Child Who Wants To Play Should Be Given A Spot And Equal Playing Time. Where is it written that there can only be one all-star team for a particular age group, with those who don't make the cut left on the outside looking in? Organize as many teams as there are players wanting to play. And set up rules to ensure equal, or at least significant, playing time. Not only will this help develop all players, but it will prevent the benchwarmers, who might be terrific athletes when they grow up, from becoming so discouraged they quit.
  2. Teams Should Be Comprised Of Children Of The Same Age And Be Of Mixed Abilities. All too often, a player who the powers that be believe to be exceptionally precocious will be asked to "play up" on a team of older kids. All that this does is deny a roster spot to a player in the older age group and throw the younger child in with kids who he or she doesn't know, that aren't his classmates in school, and feeds not only the kids' ego, but his parents' as well. In response to those who say that "forcing" the more "talented" players to play with players perceived as less talented, point out that asking them to play with kids their own ages, of mixed abilities, won't dilute the competition, hold them back, prevent them from being a high school, college or pro star. Ask them what is more important: winning or ensuring that the kids have fun?

  3. Teams Should Play Against Other Communities With Mixed Teams. One reason that you may hear why all-star teams have to be comprised of just the most "talented" kids is that this is the way other towns field their teams, so the deck will be unfairly stacked against your teams when they play head to head. The solution, of course, is simple: play teams from other towns that are equally committed as your program to including every kid who wants to play in their summer all-star program (in fact, when it comes right down to it, there is no need at all to even call the teams "all-star" if they are all-inclusive). And, if they aren't, so what? Your program shouldn't be that fixated on winning that it really matters.
Change Is Always Hard

Are these changes going to be met with resistance? Absolutely. Anyone for whom the existing system works just fine, for those interested in preserving the status quo, holding on to the reigns of power, feeding their egos, and preserving their ability to provide places for their own sons or daughters on the all-star teams is likely to resist reform and trot out every excuse in the book for why the current system should be left as it is. Will it take courage to fight for meaningful change, for a more equitable, fairer selection system? You bet. But if you are convinced that something has to be done, that the all-star selection process in your town or city is fatally flawed, and that fundamental changes need to be made for the good of the kids, you owe it to the kids to at least try.

If you get knocked down, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and keep the children in your focus. If you keep fighting long enough, hopefully it will be you that will eventually be the one left standing. And imagine how good you will feel when you see the picture in the paper, not of a single all-star team of coach's children, but of three or four teams. How you will feel when six years later, you turn to the sports section in the local paper and see that many of the kids on the high school varsity are not the children of coaches!