Parents and Youth Sports
Posted on March 04 2019
My oldest son wrapped up his basketball season this weekend and it was the toughest season he’s played in any sport. The competition was fierce, pace of the game, rapid and the environment, intense. The season was challenging both on and of the court, but the biggest hurdle was the parents.
With Jaylen participating in so many different activities, I’ve been able to witness what comes along with youth sports. There are so many parents living through their children and placing these high expectations on them that are quite unachievable. In reality, its a slim chance that any of our offspring will be the next LeBron James, Peyton Manning or Lionel Messi. Fewer than 2% of athletes actually make it to the professional level. I hate to break it to you, but Little Johnny will probably hold the record of being the M.V.P. of the recreational team and that’s about it!
The culture of youth sports has become increasingly hostile over the years and there doesn’t seem to be any signs of it stopping. With that being said, I feel there are a few key things all parents should remember when entering the youth sports arena.
Don’t take the game too seriously!
This is youth sports! There are no scouts hanging out at the little league park, ready to hand over a multi-million dollar check to have first dibs on Johnny in 2040! At this age, participation in youth sports should be all about fun and development. Our children should be making friends, learning new skills and enhancing the abilities they do have. They shouldn’t feel pressure or anxiety heading to practice, nor the field. Sports is not their job nor what defines them! If we, the parents, show that its not to be taken too seriously, our kids will follow suit and truly enjoy the game.
Don’t teach jealousy!
Jealousy has no place in youth sports! Too many times, I’ve seen parents become jealous of another kid that may appear to be a little more talented in a specific area. If that child is getting more playing time than their child, it becomes a hate fest! If that child gets more applause from spectators than their child, they are screaming bloody murder! Usually, the children don’t notice the difference until the parents bring it to their attention. Once you’ve brought it to your child’s attention, you’ve created a mini-hater that will now focus on the praise others are getting instead of simply having fun in the sport they chose to play and improve where needed. They will now be comparing themselves to their teammate instead of striving to be better than they were prior. Don’t give power to jealousy!
A successful season is not determined by wins and loses!
A lot of parents want their kids on the winning team! They care more about the record than the progress. If you’re one of these parents, you are a big part of the problem!
My son’s basketball team finished the season 2-11! It was a TOUGH one, but we were amazed at the growth of all the players! They made great strides! Each kid was able to do more than what they were doing at the start. The development of each individual should be the determining factor in deciding whether the season was a success! If you played your best players every game and won the championship, but you have a handful of team members that didn’t learn anything new throughout the journey, you’ve failed!
Success of a season should be determined by the confidence of the kids, whether they had fun and development of skills not previously attained. If the children are leaving better than they entered, IT WAS A GREAT SEASON! Parents should emphasize that over record!
It can be quite uncomfortable hearing parents yell at their children for being children! There was this one couple that kept yelling “BUCKETS” every time their child shot the basketball, only for him to airball and then they would yell, “What are you doing? You gotta do better than that!”
Once the poor baby was on defense, they would yell, “You better get him. Don’t let that boy get around you! Smack the ball out of his hands. He’s not better than you!
The boy on the opposite end of the ball was my child and the parents had no clue. YIKES!
I’ll admit, I’m that screaming mama. I’m yelling “Go Baby, Great shot Honey, Drive to the goal Jay, Defense Baby,” amongst other things.
But I’m also screaming for the other members of my son’s team with those same encouraging words. I want them all to do well. What I NEVER do and HOPE I WILL NEVER do, is talk bad about someone else’s child!
As spectators, we can all fall into the trap of getting too caught up in the “game.” As parents, we must ask ourselves this important question, “What would that teach my children? They will think that type of behavior is acceptable and it’s NOT! It’s child’s play so why are we so darn invested in it?
Emotions can create a domino effect and cause chain reactions. If you’re a parent like me, you might just say, “Hey, that’s my child you’re referring to! You need to calm down.”
That response can be met with a bunch of reactions. You can either receive an I’m sorry or a smart remark that can further escalate the situation. That’s when you see the brawls break out at games and you’re wondering, how did it get to that point at a kids game! Those little things, that can be controlled by the adults, escalate to big things.
Therefore, be mindful of your emotions when at your kid’s sporting events. We shouldn’t be looking back with regret over something that could have been avoided and should never talk bad about other people’s children.
Everyone doesn’t get a trophy!
The era of entitled children starts with us. Everyone shouldn’t get a trophy in youth sports. This doesn’t teach them how the real world operates. When they interview for the one position available, the company isn’t going to say, let’s hire them all because we don’t want anyone feeling bad. They are going to give the job to the person they feel is best.
Sad part is, the kids usually don’t care about the trophy, its the parents that do! They make the big fuss about it. They will switch teams, just to give their children a chance at getting a trophy. Forget about developing skills or working hard, I want Little Johnny to have the best chance at coming in 1st, 2nd, or 3rd so I can show my co-workers his accomplishments!
My son was heartbroken when they lost in the first round of playoffs in basketball and devastated when they lost in the championship game during football season. He and his teammates responded to the losses by vowing to come back harder next year and give their all. They didn’t whine about not getting the trophy for showing up.
Participation should definitely be praised and recognized but having the “everyone gets a trophy mentality” only produces adults that feel they should be handed everything. They will be the ones that shy away from competition, whether its in the workforce, classroom or the playing field. Having our children experience this “healthy loss” now, will allow them to become well rounded adults later. Don’t strip them of this valuable lesson because of your want of gratification through awards.
Remember the purpose of it all!
Youth sports has so many great benefits if handled in the appropriate manner. Our children get to forge healthy relationships, make new friends, experience and meet new challenges and build confidence. Let’s not be the force that derails all of that possible greatness by putting our wants, needs and emotions before theirs.
What are your thoughts on parents and youth sports?
Until next time Kuties!