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Dad Tells ‘Defiant’ Son’s Water Polo Coach To Bench Him For Unsportsmanlike Behavior

Boy playing water polo
technotr/Getty Images

It’s a parent’s job to love their children unconditionally.

Which is why learning that their children have been misbehaving, bullying, or acting inappropriately is some of the most distressing news a parent could ever get.

Mainly because it faces these parents with a challenge: how to discipline your children while still showing them that you love and support them?

Redditor Infinite_Cry_1108 was shocked and upset by his son’s unsportsmanlike behavior at a recent water polo match.

As a result, the original poster (OP) felt there was only one suitable punishment, which needed to be enforced by his son’s coach.

Much to the OP’s surprise, however, the coach thought this punishment was going way too far, even if the OP stood firm in wanting this to happen.

Wondering if he was being extreme, the OP took to the subReddit “Am I The A**hole” (AITA), where he asked fellow Redditors:

“AITA for telling my son’s coach to bench him next game for being a brat?”

The OP shared why he believed there was only one suitable punishment to teach his son never to behave in an unsportsmanlike way ever again:

“My 11-year-old son plays water polo and is usually a good sport.”

“They were playing their last game and were in the running to win first place.”

“My son’s team was ahead by two, thanks to my son making a goal.”

“In the last quarter, they were down by four.”

“My son was angry that he was switched out last quarter and a weaker player was put in.”

“So my son blamed his coach for a bad call and costing them the game.”

“I reminded my son that you can’t play more than 3 quarters and the other kid hadn’t played one quarter.”

“He said his coach should had coached better.”

“His coach went to pass out a medals to his team and shake his hand but my son refused to shake his hand.”

“I asked my son what the f**k was wrong with him?”

“He said he didn’t want to touch his coach.”

“His coach it was okay.”

“I said no, my son is being defiant.”

“It’s not that he’s uncomfortable with touching people.”

“I told his coach to bench him at the next game which is a swimming competition.”

“His coach said he wasn’t going to discipline a kid for not being comfortable.”

“He said it’s fine.”

“Please let it go.”

“I said then I will bench him myself.”

“My son started to cry and we left.”

“His coach later emailed me and asked me to cut my son some slack.”

“He’s 11 and emotional.”

“I said I can’t let this slide.”

“I hate punishing him but my role as a dad is more important.”


Fellow Redditors weighed in on where they believed the OP fell in this particular situation, by declaring:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

The OP found little to no sympathy from the Reddit community, who mostly agreed that he was, indeed, the a**hole for telling his son’s coach to bench him at his next game.

Most people felt the OP was much too hard on his son, and telling his son’s coach to bench him at the next game was the completely wrong way to teach him a lesson.

“Who asks their 11-year old ‘What the f*ck is wrong with you?'”

“I think you need to look in the mirror and ask yourself that question.”

“YTA.”- ComprehensiveMix1961


“You are not parenting well here.”

“You are being way too punitive instead of talking to your kid about how he feels and what better responses would be to his feelings.”

“You’re just teaching him to shut down around you and be even more defiant.”- friendlily

“Why not try TALKING to your son?”

“You seem like you’re more interested in asserting your authority than teaching your son sportsmanship.”

“YTA.”- mdthomas

“YTA for how you talk to your 11-year-old.”- dogladieeeee

“You are not his coach.”

“What you are doing here is actively undermining the coach’s authority.”

“If you feel the need to punish your son, you can do that at home.”

“You cannot make the coach punish him and you should not try this.”

“The coach makes his own decision – he decides who he benches and who not.”

“He is not your employee.”

“YTA – not for disciplining your son but for using the coach like some kind of subordinate.”

“It’s hard enough to get along with a group of preteen boys, the last thing a coach needs are some interfering parents who do not accept his decisions.”- EuropeanFreak

“YTA because you’re outsourcing the punishment and behavior management to your coach.”

“He doesn’t want to be roped into what he sees as a parenting issue, and he doesn’t have the perspective that you do around why your kid is behaving this way.”

“It would be better for you to use another method – even if it involves the sport/activity – to execute the punishment.”

“The outcome might be the same – ie you telling your kid ‘I’m not allowing you to play in the next 3 games’ but it’s not fair for you to tell your son’s coach to bench him as part of YOUR punishment.”

“And it might not be appropriate, depending on the expectations of your son’s commitment to his team, for you to withhold his participation as part of punishment at all.”- owls_and_cardinals


“If you want to bench the kid, you’re within your rights to pull him from the competition and keep him home.”

“That’s something that’s within your wheelhouse.”

“But if you want him to go to the competition, you’re accepting that the coach gets to make the decisions about where and when he’s going to participate.”- Big_Falcon89


“I feel so sorry for coaches when they have to deal with over-involved belligerent parents these days.”

“It makes their jobs so much harder.”

“Leave the coach alone and let him coach as he sees fit.”

“You are an adult so you are actually being more disrespectful than your son since you are supposedly able to regulate your emotions.”

“Instead the coach has to worry about the poor example you are setting for your son and his team mates.”

“Can’t you see that he feels sorry for your child?”

“Do better.”- ckptry


“Wow – who talks to their own children like that?”

“Especially so young.”

“Huge AH way to parent your kid.”

“Your son’s 11 and quite emotional after they just lost a HUGE game.”

“And the coach recognized this so gave him some slack.”

“His coach showed WAY more empathy and understanding towards your own kid than you.”

“That’s shameful.”

“In fact, the coach may actually be glad your son is so emotionally invested in winning because that makes for a much more competitive athlete.”

“Next time, maybe try talking with your son and letting his coach just coach your son.”-AppropriateScience71


“The coach isn’t required to do your disciplining for you.”

“And asking him to was so incredibly out of line.”

“If the coach wants to bench your kid for unsportsmanlike conduct, then more power to him.”

“But for being defiant to his dad?”


“And he should have kicked you out for undermining his authority.”

“I wonder where your kid gets his attitude.”- No_Location_5565


“Stop being an a** your kid is exactly that, a kid.”

“He will do kid sh*t.”

“You can’t just punish the kid away, and honestly, the coach has a lot of good points.”

“Instead of being – idk, defiant to the coach, just let the man run his team and stop butting in.”

“If you need to parent your kid do so – just remember, that you’re being an a** here an insufferable.”-somethingnewlywedded


“Don’t tell a coach they have to play your kid, don’t tell a coach they have to bench your kid.”

“Punish him if you feel it’s necessary, but don’t feel entitled use the coach as a vehicle accomplish this.”

“He’ll do what he thinks is best to manage the team dynamics.”- Clan-Sea

There were a few, however, who felt that the OP did exactly the right thing, believing that his son shouldn’t be allowed to play water polo if he didn’t respect his coach or team.


“I’m kind of surprised at the comments here/the coach’s reaction.”

“What your son did was unacceptable and he’s lucky the coach didn’t cut him from the team.”

“Getting benched for a game is a perfectly acceptable consequence.”- Scion41790


“This is a tough lesson, but an important one.”

“He was rude to his coach, disregarded the rules, and cruel to a less skilled teammate.”

“He sounds like a good kid who behaved badly in the last game,”

“in a behavioral aberration.”

“But the time to defuse diva behavior is now.”- Curious-One4595

“Personally, I have seen enough undiciplined people in western society to know you’re NTA.”-DeadMetroidvania

No doubt about it: the OP’s son needed to learn to treat his coach, teammates, and rivals with the respect they deserved.

Even so, perhaps the OP should leave how to deal with unsportsmanlike behavior to the coach.

Or, at least figure out a way to let the message sink in more effectively at home, while also showing his son he will always love and support him.

Written by John Curtis

A novelist, picture book writer and native New Yorker, John is a graduate of Syracuse University and the children's media graduate program at Centennial College. When not staring at his computer monitor, you'll most likely find John sipping tea watching British comedies, or in the kitchen, taking a stab at the technical challenge on the most recent episode of 'The Great British Baking Show'.