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Question Number: 29813

Law 18 - Common Sense 10/13/2015

RE: Varsity Under 18

Tracy Boykin of Eagle Point, Or United States asks...

My daughter was injured during a pre season game. she was out with a doctors note and this week was released to resume playing. Even though she was injured and out with a note she attended every practice and game. now her coach is telling her she cannot play because of her injury and that it is not fair to the other players who are currently playing. If she has been cleared by a Physician and has been at every practice and game does that not mean that she too has participated and should be eligible to play with the rest of the team? or is it the coaches right to disqualify or not play a player even though they have been cleared?

Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

This has nothing to do with referees.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe Manjone


You indicate that your daughter is a varsity athlete so I assume that you are talking about high school competition. The answer to your question is yes, the coach has the responsibility of deciding who is on a team and who plays.

I do not know the reason for the decision that the coach made. Perhaps, your daughters injury has her playing at a lower level than before the injury (this is just a perhaps). Perhaps, while your daughter was injured, another player has taken your daughter's place in the eyes of the coach (again, this is just a perhaps). This is the decision of the coach and I suggest that you ask him/her the reason why your daughter cannot play.

Please remember that the coach has a difficult job and often has to tell players that the player does not the skills needed to be on the team. Hopefully, your daughter will one day soon be given the opportunity to play.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi, Tracy,
as a referee site we have no input into such matters. It would be best to have an informal chat with the coaching staff. Then, if no satisfaction, contact the school itself.
Just remember. if your daughter is playing on a select team format where skill and talent are evaluated as to who makes the team. Cuts are made to trim the roster to a reasonable playing level of 18 to 20. It is unfortunate but the starting 11 are chosen based on being the strongest skill set to achieve a win. Those riding the pine must display certain characteristics the coach require to substitute them in place of a starter. It does appears this team is not a mandatory 50% playtime recreational house league format based on what our NHSF representative Ref Majone has stated . While I do admire your daughters dedication to attend and support the team during her injury I do not know if her skill level or fitness is good enough to replace another player on that team! Often here in Canada the high school teams are made up of select players that also play on other city leagues, select metro and the gold , silver bronze levels recreational teams where u-13 u14 u 15 are pooled for JR and U-16 u-17 u-18 are pooled for varsity. Depending on the size of the school you could have hundreds trying out for 20 positions available. Those in metro or gold have the greatest chances of being selected for a high school team. . The fact she is on the team must mean she has something they thought worth holding her place for? I do know as a coach if she had a knee injury, they scare the bejesus out of me, as over the years of coaching, I have seen so many ladies tear apart knees trying desperately to be apart of the game they love. I feel bad for a player who wants to participate shows the dedication and heart but if those responsible do not see the skill required or are worried over potential injury, she has to deal with the situation by becoming better, healthier or finding alternate teams to play for! I wish her luck and a HEALTHY career !

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Tracy
Who gets to play is a matter for the coach taking into account whatever factors he /she deems to be appropriate. Some will take doctors advice while others will not. I recall as a young player wanting to play in a final after getting injured in the Semi. I so wanted to play yet the coach did not put me on the starting eleven. I was nominated as a sub and did not play You can imagine how I felt. As it turned out the coach made the correct decision as I was not fully recovered and I was not fit to play even though I thought so. The injury returned a week later.
I also saw a coach persist with trying to play an injured player in a game. After I would say three times of having to leave the field of play for treatment the coach finally gave up and substituted the player. It was not a matter for me as referee yet I could clearly see that persisting with this was doing the player a great disservice and perhaps risking further injury.

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