I truly enjoyed reading Christine Brennan’s piece at USA Today, 'Rec rage' by adults too common at youth events, on parental misbehavior in our youth sports culture. It’s certainly been something I’ve discussed on many occasions over the last several years and it’s nice to see the issue being addressed further by an online source as credible as USA Today.
Some of the past articles where I detailed similar sports parental issues, in one form or another, include:
And these pieces were just highlights from material I found on the internet that sparked my interest, not everything I came across.
As you read through Brennan’s piece you will see other more recent accounts of parental misdeeds (including one I’ve already highlighted), along with several statistics demonstrating the rarity with which these crazed parents’ offspring will ever compete at an elite/professional level, let alone receive an athletic scholarship to play in college. Something they infer is at the root of much of the to-do from parents with regard to their kids’ sports experiences.
Standing from a slightly different perspective than Ms. Brennan, I don’t just brand the “dream” as the root cause, but rather the loss of perspective about that dream, and where that dream should be initiated, as being at issue. Basically, it is fine to dream and reach for the “brass ring” as long as it is the athlete that is doing the dreaming and the reaching, not the parents. From my vantage point, it almost never works out the other way around anyway.
In addition, making sure the “right” perspective is kept in focus throughout a young athlete’s sports experiences, one that emphasizes the process of working toward being the best one can be over the end result, is of utmost importance. As I have said on many occasions, in the end, it is the willingness to go through a process to strive toward excellence that has value beyond the athletic arena, not the goal itself.
Another piece I found most interesting was Christine’s mention that “crazed parents exist in academics and the arts too.” As an educator for over 32 years I can tell you in all honesty that this is most assuredly an understatement, and it is at
this time of year that that becomes most evident.
With graduation right around the corner, parents start coming out of the woodwork insisting that the school do “more” for their underperforming offspring. No matter that grades are posted online all year long, and updated regularly (sometimes weekly), and nothing was ever said. No matter that progress reports, notifications, phone calls and messages have all been sent without response or without student efforts to improve. And some have the audacity to request, even insist, that their prized pupil be able to make up work over 10 weeks beyond its due date―10 weeks!!!
Yep, the days of holding the individual who has the most control over what happens to them, and for them, accountable based on the choices they themselves make may be well behind us. Oh how I long for those days.