Read a great article on Keith Van Horn's blog today called "Delusional Parent Disorder (DPD) in Youth Sports." For any uninitiated, he's a former professional (NBA) basketball player and current youth coach, among other things. The gist of his article is that parents have to be realistic in their expectations for their children in sports and also generally have to back the hell off and let the kids play and have fun and let the coaches do the coaching. You know, so they don't become that dad or that mom that everyone hates to sit near in the bleachers and whose kids everyone feels sorry for. Read the article to see where the title line of this post comes from and tell me that mental picture won't stay with you for a while!
Speaking of related things staying with me for a while, this year I'm the parent responsible for maintaining good sideline behavior (i.e., PARENT behavior, and how sad is that?) for Thing Two's travel soccer team. At the training meeting, the leader told us that 88% (I think that was the number, but it was ridiculously high, regardless) of student athletes in one big survey reported that they quit high school sports because of the car ride home. Meaning that their parents made the car ride home so miserable for them with post-game yelling and quarterbacking and 'shoulda-woulda-couldas' that the kids said "the hell with this" and quit whatever activity they were doing. That thought now crosses my mind every single time I get into a car with any one of my three after any sort of competitive event whatsoever, and I think that's a good thing.
Travel parents are *often* completely insane (I've written about our experience with this multiple times before), but their kids have at least some modicum of athletic potential or they never would have made the team to begin with. (Not that this excuses the insanity, but it does make these folks generally slightly less delusional.) What kills me is the Rec parents who are nuts. I'm on my fourth year of coaching basketball and my husband his seventh? eighth? year of coaching soccer and both of us have stories that would absolutely curl your hair. And for what?? These are kids who want to have fun playing whose parents (not to be stereotypical here, but I would say it is 99.999999% dads: the truth hurts) think they've spawned the next Messi or Kobe. I want to put a muzzle on some of these people, or better yet banish them permanently from the gym/field/arena/planet.
Petunia is still too young for organized basketball games in our league: it's all skill building and scrimmages at her level. Both boys play real games against other schools, though; Thing Two for the first time this year. He actually played his first game ever yesterday morning. My boys are unlikely to make it to the NBA, let's put it that way. Neither one of them could hit the broad side of a barn with a basketball a lot of the time, but that's okay. Both are ferocious and tireless defenders, as it happens, but even if they weren't? They love the game and they have fun playing it, and I refuse to take it away from them by being that mom.