Parents, How You Act On The 'Ride Home' After A Sports Game Matters

by Julie Scagell
Originally Published: 

Enterprise video shows just how powerful a parents’ words can be to our kids in sports

Sports parents are used to the excitement of the game, of cheering their kids on, of hoping for a win. But what happens on the ride home if the game didn’t really go as planned? The importance of the ride home after a game — and how parents react to their kids during it — is the focus of an amazing new commercial that will make you think twice about the next ride home.

Go grab an entire box of tissues, because you are going to need them. As a supporter of kids sports around the country, Enterprise Rent-A-Car released a YouTube video called “The Ride Home” which features stories of real life youth athletes and their parents talking about their car rides home after sporting events. It reminds parents of the importance of being supportive and how much their kids are listening to the words they are saying to them after a game-win or lose.

Today, 70 percent of youth athletes quit sports before the age of 13. This is a dramatic number that can have major consequences for them down the road. “We know all the benefits of activity from better grades to less drugs, less pregnancy, more likely to go to college and on and on and on and yet at the same age when most kids are walking away from sports is that critical age where if they’re active then, they’re likely to be active for life,” said John O’Sullivan, a former college and professional soccer player.

“Children quit sports for a litany of reasons, and my job was always to see what we could learn, so we could improve the experience for other children,” O’Sullivan wrote on his blog. “When I got these players alone, and asked them ‘what was your least favorite moment in sports?’ I often got a very similar and sad answer: the ride home after the game.”

Let that sink in for a minute.

The ride home after a kids sporting event can have a profound effect on how a child perceives their performance and whether they will stay in sports in the future. Enterprises video sits down with kids to understand how their parent’s reactions impact them. “What I dreaded the most about the car ride home was just the tension,” one child in the video admitted. Another said, “If I have a horrible game, I will get an earful from my mom.” Another recognizes the positive, “My biggest fan is probably my dad,” one little girl says as her dad looks on, grinning from ear to ear.

Being a parent of a youth athlete is hard. It’s an investment of time, money and emotion. To be there for every practice and try-out and game, cheering them on from the sidelines as much as you are able. To know when to lift them up and when to back off and let them fail. When to push them and when to let them push themselves. Because we know youth sports aren’t just about the sports, they are about demonstrating the value of listening, trying hard, showing up, and supporting your teammates. These are lessons that will serve them well into adulthood and as they enter relationships with significant others, bosses, and hopefully even strangers.

As we offer advice to our children, it’s good to remember the bigger picture. Remember our kids are listening to what we are saying and how we are saying it. As Enterprise says in their video, “When it comes to the car ride home…remember to pick them up on the inside, too.”

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