I come to you today somewhat frustrated about the rampant ignorance of a parent I saw just a couple of days ago…
As a coach, mentor and educator I have many opportunities to attend athletic contests for all different ages and genders. I watch the players play and how the coaches work with the athletes and interface with the officials, parents, etc. I also have the unfortunate occasion to watch the parents… and lemme tell you, sometimes there’s more action in the stands or the parking lot than on the field.
I was watching a little league game for 10 year-olds… (Nuff said right?) but unfortunately that alone wasn’t the issue. Aside from the obvious pain of watching 10 year-old baseball there was… yup, you guessed it –one of the most obnoxious parents I’ve been around in some time.
This guy was unbelievable… Honestly I could see him being the guy at the professional games shouting obscenities at the players and pouring beer on some unsuspecting fan because he didn’t like a call that was made. There wasn’t a kid or a play made in the entire game that he didn’t loudly comment about. He even got upset about a batter who was hit by a pitch because he put his hand up to knock it down... out of obvious fear and self-preservation.
And that’s not even the worst of it!
After the game as I was in the parking getting ready to leave, I saw this same parent, although his kid’s team won the game, completely undressing his son in front of their SUV. Instead of the kid enjoying a play-off win and having ice cream before dinner, he was standing at attention, red-faced, with tears in his eyes and his dad’s finger less than an inch from his face.
It took all of my restraint not to come unglued with this person, but I did manage to say, “Good job kiddo” much to the chagrin of dad which was also accompanied by a dirty look… whatever.
You wanna know what’s really funny? We bitch, moan and complain about how our kids never want to go outside and play or be part of an organized sport. We pelt them with stories about how our generation used to stay outside and play from early morning until the street lights came on during the summer and on weekends during the school year. Yet, when they do participate we can only ridicule them, criticize them and tear them down.
Would you want to play? Yeah, me either…
I don’t know what the guys was thinking, but he obviously missed these few pointers… and just in case you missed them, here they are again for your reference.
Ten Relentless Pearls of Wisdom for Parents
1. Ease up a little -No matter what you say, you will never be tougher on them than they are on themselves.
2. They aren't you - So what you did at that age doesn't necessarily apply in today's sports arena.
3. Let's be honest, some of them just aren't athletically gifted - Just love them for who they are and be fine with that.
4. Ask them don't tell them "How do you think you played today?" versus "I don't think you played well today." You might be surprised how in tune they are with how they performed.
5. Don't assume - They may not want to play the sport you played as a kid. Their favorite sport could be completely different. Let them decided which direction to go.
6. Always remember to tell them you love them - Sometimes no matter the approach you take, things can get out of hand. Just remind them that you love them and no matter what you're there for them.
7. We're talking youth sports here - nobody is picking up a check at the end of the game... if so, sign me up!
8. Relax and enjoy the game - This one is for me specifically. We've got to remember they're children and even the pros make mistakes. Lift 'em up.
9. If they ask give an honest yet loving answer - If you get them to ask what you think...think before you answer. In some cases they may be hanging on your every word.
10. Youth sport is about the experience and having fun - Never let them lose sight of that. We tell them a lot by how we conduct ourselves.