Cut [kuht] – (verb) – to separate from the main body, or to abridge or shorten.
But, when it comes to athletics, perhaps this is a better definition to use:
Cutting [kuht-ing] – (adjective) – wounding the feelings severely
I think it’s important to point this fact out first: nobody likes the process of cuts. Kids don’t like knowing that they might be told they aren’t good enough; parents don’t like knowing that their kids might not be good enough; and coaches HATE having to tell kids who are motivated and excited about playing that they aren’t good enough. For our sports that cut, I can say without hesitation that cut day is one of the toughest of the season on everybody. So why do we have cuts? I’ve explained our reasons in depth with this post about competitive levels, but I’ll summarize briefly again.
– We still have some responsibility to our public and our community to build the most competitive team we can. That means that we need to get our kids as good as we can get them, put our best kids on a team together, and coach the heck out of them.
– We can only effectively instruct a finite number of kids. Much like how a math classroom with 30 kids would be tough, we can’t expect a basketball coach to effectively teach 20+ kids on his/her own.
– Related to that idea, we could take on more kids by adding more coaches and competitive levels, which, of course, would cost us more. Earlier this year, I ran a rough budget of what it would cost for us to add a second JV hockey team (our highest cut sport). It would cost roughly $15,000 per school ($30,000 total) for us to add coaches, equipment, officials, and travel. In our world, that’s a pretty significant number.
– In many sports, I’m not sure who we’d play if we added a level. We currently offer the same number of levels as other schools in most sports, so we’d have to get creative to find opponents.
That’s the short version. So let’s address the effects of this and how we can deal with it.
Coaches – just be honest and professional in dealing with the kids. You know that they don’t want to hear that they’re cut, but it’s better to be open and honest about why they are being cut. If there’s something an underclassman needs to improve upon, tell him/her. If it’s a senior who just isn’t talented enough to help the team, tell him/her. It will be a tough conversation, but being blunt and honest is the best way to move forward.
Parents – cuts are probably tougher on you than on the kids or the coaches. Quite frankly, cuts suck for parents. In the past few months, I’ve seen various versions of the same sign floating around the interwebs:
I get that’s it’s tough for parents. When your kid gets cut, it’s easy to take it as a condemnation of how you’ve raised your kid. As I’ve mentioned before, much of your kid’s ability to play sports occurred at conception. (In one of my worst – or best, depending on who you ask – moments as an AD, I once told a dad that his kid’s best shot at a college athletic scholarship was to have more athletic parents. I’ll admit that it was a frustrated cheap shot on my part; it had been a long, tough conversation to nowhere leading up to that point. But, back on track…) It’s ok if your kid isn’t one of the best players in the school. Help them find other stuff that they’re good at.
I like to use math to prepare parents for the inevitability of cuts. For example – my oldest son plays hockey at the Mite level. After their regular season, they were given the option to play for another month as part of a brief travel season. Sixty kids decided to keep playing – 4 teams of 15 kids each. Our teams were out of town last weekend at a jamboree where I heard one parent make the comment about how cool it will be to see these kids playing together on their high school teams in the future. Here’s where math comes in handy to cushion the blow of future cuts.
High school varsity teams can only roster 20 players. We have two high schools, so we roster 40 varsity players each year. That means that in 9 years, even if (IF!) our varsity teams were made entirely out of seniors (which would be these Mite kids in 9 years), there would still be 20 kids from the current Mite teams who won’t make our high school teams. Add to that the reality that there will probably be 60 travel mites next year and 60 travel mites the year after that, and we’re looking at a MINIMUM of 140 kids in that three year span who mathematically can’t make the varsity teams.
That’s the main reason why I don’t/won’t encourage kids to specialize in a sport. Unfortunately, because of the hockey culture in our town, many of those 180 kids are going to specialize in hockey in an attempt to make the varsity team and/or earn the ability to play college hockey. It’s important to remember that your time and money commitment is for your kids to participate with the chance to improve; it’s not a guarantee of anything more than that. I repeat: the money and time you’re spending on youth sports is buying nothing more than the opportunity to participate with the chance to improve. Even if 180 hockey kids in town all spend $6,000+ in the next five years on camps and club teams, we can still only roster 40 varsity players.
Kids – how will you respond to being cut from a team? I think it’s fair to assume that you will be sad/mad to some extent depending on your level of commitment to the team. Getting cut from the team, much like being assigned to a smaller role on the team, isn’t an indictment on you as a person. How you respond to getting cut, however, will speak volumes about who you are as a person. If you’re an underclassman, will you actively seek ways to get better at the skills you’re lacking? If you recognize that you lack the natural ability to advance in this sport, will you actively seek something else to do to represent your school? If you’re an upperclassman, can you still actively support the team in some other manner? Can you lend your knowledge to the younger kids to improve their abilities or their experiences? Can you use this set back as an opportunity to become a better, stronger person for the future?
Want more reasons for staying involved with the team despite being cut? Check out this fantastic article from High School Today.
What are your thoughts? What did I get right? What did I get wrong? Send your thoughts via Facebook, Twitter, email, or comment to the post.