Bad Sports Parents - what will it take to shut you up?

Bad Sports Parents - what will it take to shut you up?

My family is a crazy sports family. Our weeks are filled with meets/games/tournaments and it’s a fine juggling act to not miss a thing. I started writing this post to defend my type of family, and I still will get around to that, but this weekend made me wonder what will it take to get parents to stop screaming at their kids and the refs.

Did you hear that Mitch Williams, MLB Network Analyst got kicked out of a 10U baseball game he was helping to coach for screaming at refs? He called one of them an MF’er in front of the kids. Can the win/loss really be that important?

I think I had some of that fiery passion when I first started watching my kids on the field, but it didn’t take too long to realize that isn’t what my kids responded to – they didn’t want 12 coaches. They didn’t want every parent on the sideline telling them to RUN! Maybe I’ve been doing this for too many years and I’m just tired, but I just don’t understand how screaming parents don’t get that the kids HATE when their parents yell at them from the sideline. How would you like someone screaming at you while you’re working “FILE THOSE PAPERS FASTER – RUN FROM THE PARKING LOT INTO THE OFFICE – YOU REALLY NEED ANOTHER BREAK!?!?!”

I’m not talking about the occassional disappointment, and letting a discouraging word slip, I’m talking about the constant barrage of insults. Not only do the insults come from parents to their own kid, but they also insult others on the field.

Before a big Mother’s Day soccer game yesterday, I walked around the complex with a friend while the kids warmed up. We weren’t involved in any of the furry of the current games being played, so it was easy to hear some of the heartbraking comments:

“Why did we come out here…. for THIS performance?”
“No one’s going to pass to you if you keep losing the ball – knock it off”
“TERRIBLE performance. Start playing like it means something NOW!”
“Are you F’ing kidding me?!?”

The list is endless. I’m not saying kids don’t need a little metaphorical kick in the pants every once in a while, but it’s not our job when it comes to sports. They have lots of coaches, but only two parents. Drive, support, encourage and help them explore how things could get better, but for Pet’s sake, stop yelling at them during their performance.

I love watching my daughter play. It’s not really her skill, it’s the passion I see take over her whole body when she’s on the field. I absolutely love it. I try not to sit too close to the opposing team’s parents so I don’t have to hear them bashing our team, but it was a particularily crowded game and I was right next to them. My daughter stole the ball from another player and that girl fell over in the process. It looked clean to me, and the ref was right there and didn’t make a call. The parents started screaming at the ref and my daughter.

About 10 minutes later, my daughter had a break away and was headed toward the goal. The girl behind her couldn’t catch her, so she stuck her foot out and tripped her. My daughter went flying and ended up with a face full of dirt. The parents started cheering and one was yelling “PAYBACKS SUCK, DON’T THEY?!?” They were laughing and clapping. It was just sad.

I walked away and wondered how did it get to the point that parents cheer when an 11 year old girl gets hurt.

The other team was frustrated. The last time we went against them, we lost 7-1, so they thought it would be an easy game. It ended in a 0-0 tie. Their side was silent and ours erupted like we won the World Cup. It’s all about perspective.

To help you gain a little, before your child takes the field this next weekend, walk around and listen to other games. Figure out what kind of parent you want to be and what you want to sound like. If we all are encouraging, maybe the few jackasses out there will realize how dumb their singular echoing voice is and how damaging it is to our kids.


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Filed under: parenting, sports

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