I was not pushed at all when I was young when it came to sports. Looking back, I wish I was because I was very average and I wonder if I could have done more athletically if I was given more opportunities.
My view on sports parents was shaped by two things when I was younger. The first was a friend who was as equally as average as me, yet had a father that told everyone that his son was the greatest player in the world. The second was Marv Marinovich who was famous for treating his future NFL QB and drug addict son as if he was a robot and worked to prepare him for a pro career from the time he could walk.
Parenting is a lot of learning on the fly, but I knew that I never wanted to be like either of these role models. I try to be supportive with my kids and tell them all of the time that if they don’t want to play or want to try something else, that’s fine with me, even if on the inside I’d be very bummed if they stopped playing. I’ve had moments where I think I was too involved emotionally in a particular game they were playing, but when you look back, you realize how ridiculous it is to be wrapped up in the result of your seven year old’s basketball game.
Recently one of my sons played a soccer game against a team whose parents were certifiably nuts. They did what they could to intimidate the referee as well as the kids on our team. Our club makes all the parents sign a pledge form vowing to have good behavior at games. Clearly this other group didn’t do the same. When one of the moms on our team asked them to tone it down a bit, they responded that if she wanted quiet she should go to church.
But to me, the worst thing you can do as a sports parent is make your child specialize at a young age. This article, http://changingthegameproject.
If I did tell you that my son practiced soccer ten hours a week with his team, you’d tell me (rightly) that was too much and his body needs time to rest and do other things. The reality is he plays about 5.5 hours a week if you include games and that feels like a bit much.
So if 10 hours of soccer a week would be considered nuts, what does that make the lives of the many little girls we know that practice dance up to 19 hours a week. 19 hours!!! How is that considered acceptable? And don’t say it’s not because this isn’t a handful of girls that do it who are elite at their craft, this is a bunch of different girls.
I know nothing about dance and have nothing against it. But I also have no idea why it’s necessary or healthy to practice that much. I imagine there is a need for various girls to appear more in sync with each other at a competition or a show, but is 1,000 hours a year really necessary? College football and basketball teams are limited to 20 hours a week. What makes it that nine year old girls need to practice about the same amount of time as grown men? Do their bodies not need the same rest as other young athletes?
Their probably isn’t as much backlash as you’d expect because the competitions for dance don’t involve two squads performing at the exact same moment. So the parent intensity, I assume, is not focused on the other squads and you can ‘t show that you’d have the same success if you practiced less.
And I’m sure the nuttiness won’t go away soon because if it did, the dance studios would make a lot less money. For whatever reason, parents don’t have the guts to stand up and say this is insane. Imagine
So the next time you see a crazy parent and your son or daughter’s sporting event, just imagine how nuts they must be at dance competitions.
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