I recently spent a weekend at a soccer tournament for two of my kids. I did a lot of driving, which is when I do a lot of my thinking. I spent a lot of time reflecting on my kid’s sports ‘careers’ and all the craziness I have seen. I am going to give some unsolicited advice for all your parents of kids that either play competitive sports, or will in the future.
- Remember, it is not YOU on that field playing, it is your child. A win is not a feather in your cap, and a loss does not reflect on you. It is about the kids.
- Most people do not want to be bored by stories of your sports accomplishments from your youth. The occasional story is fine, especially if it is humorous. Outside of that, keep you athletic feats to yourself.
- Disputing a call by the ref will only guarantee that your team is hosed for the remainder of the game. Yep, there are some really bad refs out there, and that has been true since the beginning of sports. Get over it. Also, please, please, please do not allow your child to throw their hands up in the air in dispute of a ref’s call. I can’t count how many times I have seen a kid wasting their time disputing a call (or lack thereof) and then a point/goal/whatever is scored because they are so busy complaining instead of playing the game.
- Don’t count on your child getting any form of athletic scholarship. If you are investing money in travel sports with the hopes of getting scholarship money come college time, you would be much better off putting that money away into a 529 plan instead. (Put that 4,000 dollars spent on travel sports each year into an account earning 7 percent each year for 10 years, and you will have over $55,000 to put towards college.) So many kids burn out or have career-ending injuries, athletic scholarship money is definitely not something you can bank on.
- Listen to your child. There are so many verbally abusive coaches out there. If your child is not having fun or is demoralized, WALK AWAY. Actually, run away. As fast as you can. Being on a winning team means nothing if it is not a positive environment for your child.
- Remember, it is just a game. Sure, nobody wants to see their child perform badly. However, yelling at them only makes things worse. If you are frustrated with your child’s performance, then try to not say a word about it for at least an hour after the game. That way, hopefully you will cool down and not say something you will regret.
- Always emphasize good sportsmanship. Going back to my discussion about bad refs – if your child sees you screaming at the ref during the game and being disrespectful, then they may feel it is ok too. Kids are always watching and learning, even when they don’t realize it. Therefore, don’t behave in a manner that you would not want them to emulate.
Youth sports can be a wonderful time for both you and your child, as long as you keep the above tips in mind. I have had a great time going to out of town on tournaments and traveling to and from games with my kids. Whereas I am not implying that I have been a perfect spectator or parent when it comes to sports over the years, I do my absolute best to sit on the sidelines and just enjoy the game. All I ask of my kids is that they listen to their coach and always try their hardest. I know they will have the occasional ‘off’ game, and that’s ok. Just remember, sports can be about much more than just athletics, it can also show the kind of person you and your child are in life.