I'm coaching 5th/6th grade kids, and yeah - getting pretty competitive.
Regarding my post ... have to say, I think I learned my lesson today. Or rather, I'm not sure just what I learned, and what line I'm crossing in my thinking. Allow me to explain.
Playoff game, we were the top seed. To give you an idea, we started off 14-0. They missed a couple of good shots, but our defense was great. At 16-2, I got the "you'd better not continue this" bug in my head. I pulled top players for the quarter (remember, once a player checks into a quarter they can't come out except for ejection or due to injury), and put pretty much mostly my bottom players.
Very quickly, the score started to change. By the time I could put my better players in, they'd come back entirely. Half was over at this point, they had the lead, and I was stuck with how much I could play kids now, due to the restrictions on playing time (everyone has to play 2 quarters). Our kids did well, but by the time the game was over we had lost, 40-39.
Yes, I can point to the officiating (video doesn't lie!), I can reason out their lack of players (they only had 6, so their top players were on the floor the entire game), but the fact is that I took our foot off the gas and killed our momentum, and it cost us. After we brought it back, we just wilted. I was stunned, to be honest. I've not seen my team collapse like that in a very long time. It was disappointing, but it also did give me a chance to look at players in a new light, to see who stepped up and who stepped back, that sort of thing. (Story for another post.)
Learned my lesson, though - don't let up at all until the game is totally and ridiculously out of reach. But then I have to ask - is that displaying good sportsmanship?
A difficult quandary, no question.
Thank you for your comments regarding AAU costs. I've looked at exactly that, as there is money in the area that is donated regularly for youth athletics. Honestly, I'm not sure I have the time to devote to it all. I wish I did, as there are a lot of things that are screaming in my mind right now.
Figure I'd best wait a bit before I make any decisions, right?