You’ve seen them; you’ve heard them; perhaps you’ve been one: The obnoxious sports parent.
Now, most of us sports parents have done something or other we’re not proud of. I may have harassed a coach or two in my daughter’s six year hockey career and I possibly shouted a comment or two that I did want to take back. But, who hasn’t? But, for your child’s sake as much as your own, it’s best to avoid being the obnoxious sports parent everyone hates. Here’s how:
1. Remember that this is supposed to be fun. There is no million dollar contract on the line if they win or lose. These are (insert number here) year olds. Which brings me to my next point…
2. Your kid is probably not going to play in the NFL, NHL, NBA, WNBA or any other major sporting organization. So stop behaving like they are. Forcing them to practice and play isn’t going to make them a star. It’s going to make them a dropout.
3. Don’t fight, physically or verbally, with the ref or other parents in the stands, on the sidelines, in the parking lot or anywhere else. It could get you kicked out, banned from the venue for life, arrested and/or hurt. Not to mention the inescapable embarrassment of cussing and fighting at a YOUTH sports event. This seems like a no brainer but trust me there is video proof of this out there.
4. The coach knows (or should know) what he is doing and unless he/she calls the kids “little fuckers” and yes, we encountered one of those, let him/her do his job. Got a problem with their method? Most coaches request a 24 hour “cooling off” period, so schedule a time to talk when emotions aren’t running so high. Screaming in his/her face right after the team bombs is not going to win you any cool parent points.
5. Speaking of the coach, you are not one. Screaming your kid’s name, shouting instructions and performing a wild series of hand gestures is only going to confuse and embarrass them. That’s if they even hear or see you at all.
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6. Let the other mamas have the drama. This is youth sports not high school. Talking shit about other kids and parents is bad form. And it’s a small world after all, so remember that if your kid stays in the sport long enough you will see them again. Maybe on next year’s team.
7. If you must vent? Just don’t do it in front of your player. Not only do they learn your gossiping, backstabbing ways by example, they could let your comments leak in the locker room. How awkward is THAT going to be?
8. Don’t analyze every practice, every game and every play to death with your kid. A coach advised me once to let my daughter talk, uninterrupted, for five minutes after a game. Once the five minutes were up, we were done. If she didn’t want to talk at all? That’s ok too.
9. Encouragement is great, criticism is not. Recently I read an article that said the most powerful six words you could say to your player were “I love to watch you play.” Awww… A little too mushy? Try “work hard” and “have fun.”
10. If your kid doesn’t want to play anymore, don’t make them. For those parents who are living vicariously through their player, this could be a tough pill to swallow. Let them live THEIR dream, not yours. Personally, I instituted a one season rule. If you commit to a season, you finish the season and then move on.
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I could go on about petty items such as don’t-forget-the snacks-if-it-is-your-turn or leave-the-cowbell-at-home-before-I-bludgeon-you-with-it type tips, but that is just nit-picky. Everyone will forgive you if you forget the bananas but may not be as quick to turn the other cheek if you spew obscenities at a game.
Oh, and P.S. During playoffs, all bets are off!