Recently I read about a town in Australia that actually implemented laws that govern parent behavior at sporting events. Stepping out of line is punishable by banishment from the play area, and/or fines. My first thought was: “Really? Is that necessary?” Then after reflecting on our own American sports parents I realized that the Aussies are right on track. We have seen cases as extreme as the case in Texas where the cheerleader’s mother killed a rival cheerleader to promote her own daughter’s chances of “making the team”; to something as common as bad-mouthing the umpire at a little league game. Being in the kids/sports industry I can say that I have seen some curious parenting styles out there that run the gamut.
Working as an administrator, coach and teacher for over 30 years, I have seen some cases that would be unbelievable to the average person. I have also seen some parents that taught me a thing or two about how to behave when I became a parent, and I try to emulate those role models every day.
The goals of a good sport parent should be the same goals held by a good coach; develop the whole athlete. As a coach and parent I have tried to teach my children values and model virtues, I have focused on developing character. Yes, of course as a coach, I do like to win; but as it states in our Gymfinity team handbook, “when the trophy is more important than the smile, then there will be no true way to win.”
Sports parents have a very important job, without them, and without them doing their “job” the coach’s job becomes nearly impossible. First off, a parent must provide the athlete; that is not just getting the kid to the gym, but providing a sport ready child. To clarify, let’s compare athletes to race cars: cars need good parts, good fuel and a good driver. Just like children need a healthy body (car), with a good diet of food, sleep and other various ingredients (fuel) as well as a good sound mind (their driver) to understand not only the “how to”, but the “why” of their activity. Without the race car in good shape, the coach has nothing to work with. 안전놀이터
Next the parents need to balance reality for their child. They need to have their children juggle one ball for sports, one for school, and one for family. When a child/athlete drops a ball, they need to be there to help them recover and get the ball aloft again. Those two tasks, providing and balancing, are the parent’s most essential. Beyond that they need to sit back and observe, allow their child/athlete to do what they can, make decisions on their outcomes, wrestle with the results and unconditionally love them regardless of the win or loss.
Like parents, coaches and the athletes have their own jobs to do too. Though a coach’s job is more technical, they rely on the parent and athlete to fulfill their roles in order for them to carry out their own. Problems arise when the three sides of the triangle (coach, parent, and athlete) start to blur and overlap. When one steps into another’s role there is confusion, and for the child, that can cause great stress and usually results in the opposite of the one thing everyone intended to enhance; the performance. Problems also arise as well when the balance I spoke about is lost, when winning and sport is prioritized over education and family it will lead to the destruction of the child athlete. It may not happen overnight, but the slow attrition of breaking the child down is in action