Tips to Being a Better Sport (Parent)
Ever since Bug started playing soccer, I’ve looked forward to each sporting season with only mild enthusiasm.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I don’t enjoy watching my children play sports or be part of a team -- quite the opposite. I love it. I think participating in a sport teaches them how to work with others, depend on other people and share the spotlight. However, it’s the rest of the sports parents that leave me wishing for rain delays and forfeited games.
I know that attitude doesn’t make me popular among the other parents on the bleachers, but when I’ve listened to parents do everything from coach on the sidelines to belittling their kids to their face and behind their backs to other parents, I can’t help but cry foul.
For almost eight years now I’ve been privy to overhearing just about everything negative or counterproductive a parent could possibly say both about and to their children. I’ve decided that I simply can’t sit on the sidelines any longer (no pun intended), so I’ve come up with some snarky, if not sage advice that all parents whose children play a sport should heed.
Be Respectful – You can file this under “if you can’t say anything nice” or “mind your manners” or whatever headline you feel is appropriate, but the bottom line is that you’re just plain disrespectful to your child and to his team or if you coach or yell from the sidelines. Let’s look at it this way: on your child’s participation form there was likely a section looking for parents to help. You probably saw that box and skipped over it because you either can’t help or don’t want to, right? OK, so keeping that in mind, remember the coach? THEY FILLED OUT THAT SECTION. That’s why they’re the coach and you’re not. If you think that the team is doing lousy or the coach is doing a bad job, then parent up and offer to help coach the team. If you can’t do that, then sit back down and let the coach do his or her job.
Watch Your Potty Mouth – Now I’m not saying that all sports parents are cursing like a sailor on leave but… I will say that my own kids have picked up some pretty words that I know I didn’t teach them. There are other families and children in close proximity to you so if you could keep a lid on your NC-17 mouth the rest of us would appreciate it.
Don’t Dis the Players – I’m pretty sure that you think Johnny or Susie kicks, hits, and can throw the ball harder than any other kid out there. That may be true but if you’re sitting next to my kid, the one that missed the ball when he was WIDE OPEN, please keep it to yourself… or better yet, shout out “Nice Try” and clap for him or her. You’ll be my friend forever and I won’t have to glare at you over my sunglasses as you politely recant when I say “That was my son.” We’ll all get along a lot better and it will be a much more enjoyable season. I promise. This goes for the other team as well, and don’t put down your kid’s teammates in front of them or his or her coach. It’s rude. You teach them to be respectful and kind and yet what are you doing?
My kids would add to not embarrass them by shouting to them while they’re on the field. It distracts them, so just sit back, clap, yell out “Way to Go!”, “Go Tigers” (or your team’s colors or whatever mascot they are) when needed, and call it a day. They are trying to focus on the game and the directions the coach is giving them. Save the pep talks and coaching from the bleachers for home… or better yet, don’t do it at all.
Our kids have enough to learn and struggle with on the field; after all they are the ones sweating it out on the field. If you really don’t like things about your child’s team, the players or even the coach, take it up with the grown-ups involved because they are the people who will be able to change things. Your kids can’t. Behaving like a bad sport to them won’t help them or teach them anything except how to mimic your behavior and honestly, I don’t want those kids or those parents on my kid’s team.