Sport parents. They get a bad name. It seems every time we turn around we are given lessons, and advice and warnings about how we should and should not conduct ourselves when it comes to our kids.
“Let them figure it ALL out on their own,” they say.
“Leave them alone,” they cry.
“Don’t get your daughter on the shit list with coaches by acting like a crazy jerk,” they warn.
“Get out of their way!” they shout.
But here is the irony.
The sport parents are the ones who initially sign their kid up for this gig before the kid even knows what they enjoy doing. The sport parents are the ones who pay for this gig. The sport parents are the ones who have to pack the cooler, and buy the uniforms and wake the kids up on Saturday mornings and tell them they cannot go to a slumber party or after football game bonfire because they have to be up early the next morning.
The sports parents – “US” – are the ones that sacrifice a lot of our free time, and money, and love in order for our children to be invested in the sports that they love. They drive the miles, they get the kids to the games, they instill the values of responsibility and hard work and sportsmanship that will carry these kids far in sports and IN LIFE!
The kids aren’t just born with all of this stuff.
We place our kids in sports for a myriad of reasons. We know from tons of research and hands on experience that sports teach our children a great deal about life and help them gain skills that they won’t get just going to school and being couch potatoes the rest of the time. In fact, the experience kids gain when it comes to sports is invaluable, and something that cannot be taught anywhere else. And THANKS to parents like you, and me (US) we have bought in – and we show up in person with our kids in tow, wallet open – to make all of this happen.
And then ‘they’ tell us to just get the hell out of the way??? Yeah, Ok.
We can all admit. There are some parents that take it over the top. Wayyyy over the top. But when you consider the thousands of kids playing the thousands of sports on any give weekend – the reality is that parents are the biggest, strongest and most influential force behind youth athletics.
While coaches and recruiters may not want to deal with parents, want to put parents in a bad light, want parents to sit tight behind the fence with their mouths shut and just take whatever comes their way, the truth is – this goes against everything that parenting is all about. Everything.
Parental involvement is what drives youth athletics and successful athletes and successful people.
Parents are a child’s first leader. And while sitting down and shutting up and putting up with some of the nonsense and crap that goes on in team cultures today from egotistical, know it all coaches who have completely lost the vision of what youth athletics is really about may be the ‘easiest’ coziest solution – it’s just not gonna happen.
And instead of team leaders ignoring, being irritated by, cursing, and setting aside parents, they should communicate, and welcome the adults that SHOW UP for these kids, because they are an integral part of the team culture.
Because you see – PARENTS ARE INVESTED in their CHILDREN and their children’s wellbeing, and their children’s happiness.
And you just aren’t going to find dedicated, determined, responsible athletes unless you find adults to go with that child who teach the important values in the background.
Obviously, as aforementioned, there are some parents who seem to ruin it for everyone, who relive their glory days, or try to recreate them through their child’s involvement. But the vast majority of us do not.
The vast majority of parents want to see their kids succeed, want to see their kids enjoying themselves and their childhood, want to see their child grow as an athlete and as a person. The vast majority of parents are the ones offering up the emotional support and advice in the background that keeps the kids motivated and going. Parents are the ones that have to clean up the mess made my coaches and adults who lack integrity.
The role of parents on a team is not something that should be overlooked. We have to stop simply passing over, and ignoring the parents and making them feel as if they have zero place in their young child’s life. Teams need to realize that without the parents, there’s a good chance the team wouldn’t work at all. So before any coaches out there go casting out parents, they may want to consider the valuable, important roles that they play on a team.
We all want our kids to be able to figure things out on their own. To speak up for themselves. But there is also a learning process that goes along with all this. And when you are talking about young children, it is unrealistic to think that they can handle everything that comes their way without adult advice and support.
So yeah. We will get out-of-the-way when our kids are ready. We will sit down and shut up when we should. But don’t think that demanding silence, or placing fear in parents if they speak up or out is the cure-all for gaining a pass to treat young athletes like crap.
As parents, our number one job is to protect, empower and advocate for our children during their young lives so that one day, they learn to do these things for themselves.
And that our friends, takes being involved and PRESENT in their lives, and speaking up for them when they cannot do it for themselves. And take it from a sports parent of 4 – I LONG for the day when my kids can handle everything that comes their way in life without ME, but until that day comes, I will be THERE to help in any way I can.
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