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Parents: Sit Down and Shut Up

Your kid's no Michael Jordan, so stop pushing so hard.

An Indiana man is jailed because he pummeled his elementary age daughter’s assistant basketball coach for having to run laps after getting into an argument with another player. He reportedly punched the coach in the face and continued doing so until he was unconscious.

Are you kidding me? 

Really?

This isn’t an isolated event. I did a quick Google search of the words “parent”, “fighting”, and “youth sports” and over 53,000,000 results popped up. I realize that not all of those are parents getting into fights at youth sports but 53,000,000 is a massive amount to not be some sort of epidemic!

Not only that but you honestly don’t have to go so far as beating a coach to see that there are far too many parents out there that take their children’s sports too seriously.

As a student here in Wentzville I can remember a particular dad who invested an abnormal amount of time and energy into his kid’s basketball careers. There was no time for goofing off when you could be practicing your shot in the driveway. They were very good, no doubt. You could tell that they put in a lot of hard work but there was joylessness in how they played. That was never more evident than when their dad started screaming at them, the coach and/or the ref during games. You could hear him above all the other noises in the gymnasium. And you could see that when he started in, their play was affected negatively. They would begin to play as if someone had placed chains on them. 

Heads down, shoulders hunched is how they would play when he started in.

We all felt horrible for them and wished someone would do something, but no one ever did.

You know the parents I’m talking about. Maybe you’ve sat next to them during your child’s sporting event. Maybe you’ve heard or seen them across the field yelling and screaming at someone for a perceived slight of their child. Maybe you’re that parent.

If you are that parent I have a few words of advice I would like for you to read.  I would like for you to read through this advice and let it sink in. Let the words marinate in your mind. Now to be honest, they will probably make you mad, maybe offend and for that I will apologize up front BUT these are things that need to be said and you need to hear them.

Sit down and shut up

Do you understand what it does to your child when you start yelling at them, their coach or the ref? I’m not talking about someone making a bad call and the crowd is booing. I’m talking about you standing out and alone as you berate whomever you’ve gotten in your cross hairs.

When you start to dress someone down over who knows what, you embarrass your child. You cause people to talk about you and them. Other students will start asking them questions and pointing out your bad behavior. 

The game stops being fun and becomes a chore when you start screaming. You drain all the fun out of something that should be and instead turn it into something that causes anxiety.

So please, for your child’s sake:

Sit down and shut up.

Your kid is NOT Michael Jordan

According to the NCAA, here are the chances that your child will make it to a pro level should he/she make it into college sports:

  • Men’s Basketball- 0.03%
  • Women’s Basketball- 0.02%
  • Football- 0.09%
  • Baseball- 0.015%
  • Hockey- 0.4%
  • Men’s Soccer- 0.08%

Are you picking up what we’re laying down? The odds of your student going all the way through to the pros are almost zero! Some of these are so amazing it’s a wonder that anyone makes it. For instance, the chances of your student athlete making it onto the roster of an MLB team is so miniscule that it’s the same odds as a thief guessing your PIN number on the first try.

It has happened here locally and will most definitely happen again. But please understand that most likely your child is not going to be the next one to break that barrier.  And there is nothing wrong in that!

It’s not a fail for them to not make it to a professional level.

You weren’t Michael Jordan either

I understand that there are parents out there that played professional sports but chances are that you are not one of those parents. Chances are that you remember “back in the day” a little differently than it actually happened! Either that or your back in the day never actually happened but you like to make sure that everyone thinks it did.

Whichever way, it is completely unfair of you to try to somehow compare “careers” with your child. And it’s just gross when you try to live vicariously through your child’s athletic achievements.

Hear me when I say this, it is not an indictment on your ability to parent if your child “fails” to go pro or get a scholarship. It doesn’t look bad on you when your child doesn’t succeed like you think they should.

Don’t compare your child to a “shady” memory of your sporting heroics. Let him/her play their game with joy and create their own memories without you constantly spewing out how you did this or did that. Just save it.

Just sit back and enjoy

Your child is pretty extraordinary. Just the ability to do the things they can is incredible. Win or lose the desire to compete, to put themselves out there is just awesome. Support them in that. Allow them to follow their dreams and talents and cheer them on. 

Be a guide.

Be a cheerleader.

Be their biggest fans!

Sit back and actually watch your child compete. Watch how they enjoy your support while they play. Understand that your verbal abuse does them no good and actually harms their self-confidence. When you compare or yell or live through them, you stunt who they could become. So just sit back, watch your child learn how to compete and enjoy.

I grew up playing sports with a father that was an excellent athlete. He was a prospect coming out of high school for a major league baseball team. Had it not been for the draft who knows what would have happened? I got to hear some pretty awesome stories and watch him play ball in rec leagues. He taught me how to play the game and play it right, to respect the game. I grew up going and watching ball games and still love to do so.

The one thing I never grew up with was pressure to be something I’m not. I was never as good as my dad but was never made to feel bad about that. My talents lay elsewhere. They knew that and encouraged me to follow a different path. My parents celebrated all my accomplishments and I have never doubted for a moment that they were/are proud of me.

That dad that we mentioned at the beginning of the article? He’s facing felony charges. He may have wanted to be more involved in his daughter’s practices and games but the chances are that he may miss quite a few of them. Maybe he should have thought about some of these things before he opened his mouth!

Mark Adams March 28, 2012 at 03:05 AM
If you ever see me becoming this kind of parent, please punch me square in the throat.
Joe Smith March 28, 2012 at 01:45 PM
HAHAHA! I'll keep that in mind!
Ray Antonacci March 28, 2012 at 03:22 PM
This article relates to tour helicopter parenting article...There are books out about our generation of parenting and they are not good! I read on FB about an Easter egg hunt cancel in CO because the parents ran out into the field to gather eggs for their children. Deplorable! My kids play select ball and I see THOSE parents every weekend. It changes the mood of the game. The kids are embarrassed and the rest of the crowd sits in an anxious silence. Another good article, Joe.
Joe Smith March 28, 2012 at 08:41 PM
Thanks Ray. And thanks for being a good example out there! Keep it up.

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