Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Mom: Sports Etiquette for Parents


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Have you ever known somebody who coached a kids sport for one or two seasons and then quit? More than likely it was because the parents drove them away. Coaching can be a very rewarding experience. Dealing with parents, however, can drive a good coach to distraction.

Many parents who never offer to help suddenly become back-seat coaches at game time, yelling constant instructions to their kids. I have some sympathy for this, because I know parents want their kids to do well, and they are accustomed to being the one who is in charge of making sure they are doing what they should. However, often the parent's instructions are different from what the coach has said, or the child can't hear their coaches because the parents are drowning them out.

Some parents seem to go through a sort of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde transformation when it comes game time. Parents who are normally very nice people get suddenly very angry when they think their child isn't being treated fairly in some way. They set a bad example by yelling at the officials or getting into shouting matches with parents from the other team. On rare occasions physical violence erupts.

Also, parents sometimes turn up to complain to the coaches in the middle of a game, ranting and raving in front of all the kids! An otherwise good game, even a resounding victory, can suddenly becomes a big downer for the coach.

Other problems begin even before the games start. Often the parent and/or child doesn't like the position that the child has been assigned to play. Kids want to have the chance to play every position regardless of ability. Some parents may tell their kid to be a team player, that all positions are important, but they secretly fume because they don't really believe it themselves.

With some parents, the coaches can do no right. Even when the child is rewarded for his/her skill and hard work by being put into a particularly important position on the team, sometimes it turns out that the parent is upset because they or the child had their heart set on some other position.

Parents also seem to have a sort of tunnel vision. They concentrate on their own child and nit-pick everything the coaches do or say regarding that child. The coaches, however, have the more difficult job of handling the entire team and can't always give individual attention to each player. Sometimes an individual player's needs may inadvertently get overlooked and the parents take it personally.

The rumor mill is another big problem. Parents will talk about the coaches behind their backs, speculating on their motivations for every action and trading complaints.

I would like to issue a challenge to parents. Don't be like the people described above. Set a good example for your kids by behaving like a mature adult on and off the field. Give your coaches the benefit of the doubt that they are trying to do what is best for the team and for the individual players. If they make a mistake, don't point it out in front of everybody, but approach them later.

Teach your child to be a team player and to do his/her best, practice with them at home, and let the coaches do the rest.

The author, Greg Bonney, is the owner of Bonney Information and E-Commerce and founder of Scoutcamping.com (http://www.scoutcamping.com ).

Copyright © 2005 Bonney Information and E-Commerce.


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