Over the years, I’ve been to more sporting events than I can count. I’ve had plenty of opportunities to watch parents and use my judgmental and critical nature to analyze and sum up their problems. Gee, if everyone had my insight, the world would be a better place, wouldn’t it?
I’ve decided there are three different types of parents when it comes to sports: the grateful parent, the worry-wart, and the out-of-touch.
The grateful parent is a small group. In the world of team parents, they are a minority. These parents are grateful to the coach for letting their child play on the team, regardless of the talent of their child.
When these kids play, the parents remain grateful. When the coach yells at one of these players, the parents are grateful for discipline. When these kids sit on the sidelines most of the game, the parents are still okay with it.
If you watch the kids of these parents, you’ll notice a similar attitude. These kids cheer on their teammates no matter what. He or she comforts teammates who are upset.
When you converse with these kids, you notice a mature attitude and a realistic viewpoint. These kids are aware of their talents and limitations, as well as the talents and limitations of their teammates.
The worry-wart parents have either good players or poor players on the team. These parents worry about every move that is made. They overanalyze every decision the coach makes. They wonder if they should sign their child up for every conceivable camp and lesson to make them better.
Often, these types of parents have kids who become very good, even phenomenal players. They work hard, mainly so they can prove themselves to their parents.
These kids will still receive praise from their parents, but most of them get lectures on how to improve and do better, even if they played really well.
Lastly, you have the huge group of parents I like to call the out-of-touch. Let’s call them “oots.”
Some of the oots are completely unrealistic. They really believe their children are either the top player of the team or at least in the upper echelon.
They believe their children should play more. No coach is good enough. If their child played more, the team would win more. If their child played the whole game, he or she would make all the points and win the games.
Some oots spend most of their time looking at the talents of other kids. They can’t understand why the coach puts in the other kids instead of his or her child.
This oot will make excuses. That child plays because she’s tall. That child plays because the coach is friends with the parents. This child plays because her mother is the president of the athletic boosters club. This child plays because his or her brother or sister was a great player.
Many of these oots know little about what they are talking about. I’ve been friends with the parents of the “star players” over the years, and I know most of these players have a genuine love of the game. Their parents have spent money on lessons and camps because the kids LOVE the sport. In return for their efforts, the kids have become great players.
Furthermore, these kids are coachable. They listen to the coach and do what he or she tells them to do. They trust the coach and they follow the game plan. Yes, they are realistic about themselves and how the whole game should work.
I’ve personally dealt with the ignorance of parents over the years. My kids play because I’m a teacher in the school district, or so they say.
Many teachers or staff members will understand and will echo my sentiments. It’s not fair to our kids when people say these things. However, I’ve learned to ignore stupidity. (As you can see, I’m doing it right now, aren’t I?)
I’m not saying favoritism never happens. I’m sure it does. However, I still don’t think it’s something that is fair to the kids. When you are gossiping and complaining, leave kids out of the equation, please.
Little do these parents know that I’ve gone to coaches and told them to treat my child fairly. I’ve assured these coaches that my wife and I will never be angry if one of our children is cut. We trust the coaches. Will we be disappointed? Sure. When it comes to sport and our kids, we pray a lot.
I have left many a game shaking my head at some of these oots. I still love these people. Many of them have been people I care about. They are not bad people and many of them have good, solid kids.
But they need to get real about their kids. Be realistic about what your child is able to do. Push your child in healthy ways. Encourage often. Remind them to have fun.
Don’t sit in the stands and run the coach down. Don’t run other kids down. When you have the audacity to tell other parents their children play because they are tall or because they are friends with the coach, don’t be surprised if other parents look at you as if you are a big-mouthed kook. You’re lucky other parents have the couth to not tell you a thing or two.
Invariably, every time I write one of these nasty columns, I’ll have someone come up to me and ask questions about it. “What type of parent am I?” they ask.
I always answer, “If the shoe fits.”
And as you know, I try to be honest with myself and call myself out whenever I can. I’m no better than a lot of parents. It’s easy for me to sit behind this computer and point my crooked finger at all these parents.
But just remember: there are plenty of shoes that fit on my own foot quite snuggly.