Question of the Day

As a cox how do you approach favoritism from coaches? Like, there’s a girl on my team whose dad is an assistant coach at our club (but for novice) and I feel like our varsity coaches favor her because she is the coach’s daughter. What do/can I do? I like her but I still feel like this is unfair.

Growing up, I played softball for about 10 years before I started coxing and I was fortunate enough to have my dad be my coach every year I played. I think a major reason why I’m so unbiased towards people is because he never gave me special treatment – even when I tried to get it. I wasn’t encouraged or scolded any more or less than anyone else on my team. When I got to high school, I was in the marching band (clarinet) and one of the directors had some seriously hardcore favorites that just got treated way better than everyone else. It annoyed me in a “roll my eyes every time I noticed it” kind of way. There wasn’t anything we could do about it and it wasn’t a HUGE deal in the grand scheme of things so we all basically just had to deal with it and ignore it. Since I’ve started coaching I’ve tried to do the same thing that my dad and HS crew coaches did and not have favorites. I’ve found that even though there are people I like infinitely better than others, I have to treat them equally and not let the people I like get away with shit that I wouldn’t let the others get away with.

One of the hardest lessons to learn is that there will ALWAYS be a favorite. It’s an inevitable truth. Why do you think they favor her? I feel like crew is a hard sport to play favorites with but, then again, I’ve never really seen or experienced it with any of my teams. Unless you, for example, pull an infinitely better erg time than she does and she gets boated over you with zero justification, there’s really not much you can do except ignore it. It’s possible that the coaches just know her better than other people on the team if they’re friends with her dad, so general conversations can seem like favoritism if other people don’t experience the same thing with them.

I wouldn’t let it bother you unless it comes to a point where people are getting displaced in the boat in favor of those who haven’t earned that seat. If that happens, then I’d bring it up (maturely) with one of the coaches and ask why that person was chosen instead of you or whoever. Don’t be accusatory though. Go to your coaches from the angle of wanting to know what you need to improve on so that next time YOU are the one that’s chosen. If they give you a legitimate answer as to why the other person was put in the lineup, you have to trust that they made the right decision, even if to you it feels like the wrong one.

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3 thoughts on “Question of the Day

  1. Fiona (@fc2001) says:

    It’s a really hard one to deal with. Our coach is married to one of the rowers on our squad – you don’t wanna go into the problems that creates, and of course it raises the issue of favourites. Most of it it is pretty insidious, if I’m being honest, but there were moments – when she would get away with skipping practices and still get in the first boat, when lineups would get switched out at the last minute to accommodate the fact that she had a preference for 8’s over 4’s, when we all knew. He’d never get away with not treating her differently from the rest of us, much as he argued he didn’t. God, she even dictated who eventually sat in stroke seat (me, incidentally) because she refused to row behind our old stroke seat (who, admittedly, couldn’t really hold it together).

    I would argue that to some extent that a degree of ‘favouritism’ is unavoidable, simply because you will always have people on a team you find more agreeable and get on better on a personal level with than others. Coaches are, at the end of the day, only human. You can try your best to be even-handed, it’s a very hard thing to do, even in my limited coxing and coaching experience I’m aware of that.

    The easiest way to deal with it when it’s happening in a squad you’re part of, and I can comment from a rowing standpoint here, is not to let it make you visibly angry outside of the boat. Do not treat her any differently than your other teammates. Do not scream and shout and try to drag attention to yourself. Keep on quietly, efficiently keeping on – work hard and work smart, and use the aggression the perceived ‘unfairness’ sparks to your advantage in the boat because it will help you to pull harder (it worked for me). If the time comes to raise it with the coaches, do so maturely and in an even tone of voice, leave emotion out of it as far as is possible. I never raised it with my coach, maybe wrongly, but I can understand the desire to.

    Sorry, that got to be an essay…:-)

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