Five Ways to Avoid Being THAT Sports Parent
There are so many wonderful things about sports. There’s a reason why they’re a cornerstone of so many people’s lives, from the youngest athlete to the longtime, die-hard fan and everyone in between.
One thing that nearly everyone can agree on, though, is that nobody should strive to be THAT parent. You know the one we’re talking about. It’s the parent who yells at his or her kid, or even worse, somebody else’s kid!
This parent would never lose a game if given the chance to coach because he or she has all the answers. The other team made one shot? Switch from that darn zone defense to a man-to-man! The goalie gave up an easy goal in the first minute? Looks like somebody should be earning a quick trip to the bench! “This coach doesn’t know what he’s doing. I can’t believe he’s in charge here.”
This parent will also happily regale you with tales of Mikey’s eight touchdowns in his Pop Warner football game. Have you heard about Emily’s incredible swimming times in the butterfly? Give it another 12 years and she’ll be bringing home an Olympic gold medal. Maybe eight. “We’re” not sure yet.
Nobody wants to be that parent, and with that in mind, here are five ways to ensure you’re not.
Your kid is probably not going to play Division I sports, let alone pro, and that’s OK!
You can already see it. Your child that used to be your little six-year-old future star quarterback is now accepting the Super Bowl MVP trophy for your favorite team. Your eight-year-old daughter is the next great player on the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team, which will obviously win four World Cups with her on the team.
Stats say...probably not happening. Roughly two percent of athletes will play Division I sports, and of that two percent, between one and nine percent will move on to major professional leagues. Keep extrapolating and you can get an idea as to the chances that a child will grow up to be the next Tom Brady or Alex Morgan.
Don’t go into your child’s sports career with scholarship dollars and endorsement deals on the brain. The value of sports for children isn’t about molding them into an incredible sports star. The value is the opportunity for your child to have fun, learn some valuable lessons and make lifelong friends. You’ll be much happier and your child will DEFINITELY appreciate the perspective. Unfortunately, your college tuition checks aren’t likely to change much.
Don’t coach from the sideline
Bad news for sideline Nick Sabans not named Nick Saban everywhere: it’s not helping. Most of the time, kids don’t even hear you, and when they do, they don’t like it. You have their best interests at heart, but it’s unnecessary. You’re not the coach, so don’t act like one. Sit back, let the coaches coach and the players play.
I have a friend who once coached with a successful former NHL player. I asked him how the player was as a coach, assuming that he’d be a helicopter dad and telling everyone, “this is how you should do this, because I learned it in the NHL.”
Nope, far from it. My friend said that the NHLer was as nice as anyone he’d ever encountered and only contributed his opinion when asked by the other coaches.
If that guy can do it, so can the rest of us.
Criticizing other players
“Well, my daughter made a perfect pass, but SUSIE missed the open three-pointer at the buzzer. Unbelievable. She blew it for the team!”
Attacking a child who is just learning--or playing--a sport is unnecessary and does way more harm than good. Even if your little Diana Taurasi DID make a perfect pass and Susie DID miss the shot, it doesn’t help anybody to publicly criticize and possibly even, humiliate, a child. Playing sports should help build a child’s confidence. Don’t take that away from them. There isn’t a single parent that’s going to be cool with criticizing your kid, let alone anyone else’s.
You’re not a coach, but you’re also not a ref
It can be hard to bite your tongue when the ref, who is clearly biased against your child and his or her team, continues to make bad calls that you would never make in that same situation. You saw him laughing with the opposing coach before the start of the game, so it’s obvious that the coach slipped him $100 to throw the game.
No. Just… no. Every ref will have a bad game - some more than others - but I’ve yet to see one at the youth level who’s actively fixed a game. They’re making judgment calls in real time, and sometimes, they go your way. Other times, they don’t. Regardless, there are few things more irritating than that parent who’s constantly chirping at the refs to let them know about EVERY call that they missed. There’s an element of human error, but calls tend to balance themselves out. Don’t be that parent who’s harassing refs, coming up with conspiracy theories or loudly blaming them for your team’s loss.
Don’t get in fights or act out of control. You’ll end up on YouTube and your kid will be embarrassed.
Active kids do better in life as they’re 15 percent more likely to go to college and earn up to eight percent more when they start working, less likely to smoke or use drugs, and are in better overall health than non-athletes. All kids deserve the opportunity to discover who they are and what they can achieve, and that’s why the Y’s youth sports leagues are built on the foundation that kids develop the ability, confidence and desire to be active for life.
Youth Sports Leagues at the YMCA focus on engaging every child, building strong team bonds, mastering skills and being physically active. Register today!