Most people would agree that it’s a good idea to encourage children to play sports. It’s a way for them to meet new friends, develop a sense of teamwork and stay healthy. It helps children focus on a positive influence in their lives, and if they practice enough, maybe they’ll even earn a scholarship down the road when it’s time to start considering college. It’s fun to get involved, but…
Parents can ruin the experience.
It’s not that parents aren’t supportive, or that they don’t get involved with their children’s athletic interests. It’s actually the exact opposite: parents get so involved that the sport stops being about their child and more about their overly competitive attitude.
For instance, you may recall an incident from 2011 when a wrestling dad stormed the mat and forcefully pushed an 11-year-old wrestler off his son. He then points at the camera and storms off the mat, as if he’s proud of his actions. As if he really showed that kid.
This rage-infused reaction was inexcusable, and adults should have a maturity level that prevents over reactions like this one.
As a former wrestler, I’ve personally witnessed situations like that. I’ve seen parents yelling obscenities from the stands. Parents who had to be escorted out of the wrestling meet as their son embarrassingly hung his head, trying not to make eye contact with anyone in the room.
Comedy Central’s South Park even dedicated a 2005 episode to this issue in which Randy, Stan’s dad, kept getting drunk at little league games and trying to fight other dads. Although the episode satirically poked fun at the issue, it’s sad that those situations actually happen.
Parents should keep encouraging children to play sports – but for the right reasons. Do it because they want to be involved. Don’t do it because you have something to prove. Don’t assume your child’s athleticism will make them shine above the others. If that’s your motive, then you’re going to ruin the experience and make a fool of not only yourself, but also your child.