Have you ever wondered why you did something? This is the fourth in a series regarding the individual perspectives of those involved in youth soccer. The first dealt with the player; the second was on the coach; the third was on the referee; this one focuses on the parent.
Spend any amount of time around youth sports and you hear “loud” parents. Did you ever stop to wonder what it would be like if the shoe was on the other foot?
A youth soccer coach was once asked, “If you could change one thing about youth soccer, what would you change?” He answered, “The parents. I’d make them go away.” As parents, we spend much of our time shepherding our young children from one sporting event to another. Have you ever stopped to think or wonder why we as adults are so involved?
Youth sports were never meant to be an adult-oriented domain. I firmly believe that we need to bring youth sports back to what it was meant to be – a place where kids can still be kids – learning under a positive role model guide and having a lot of fun in the process. The mini-van pressure cooker, on the other hand, is a clear deterrent to that.
If you find yourself berating your child, his teammates, coaches and/or referees, visibly grimacing after your child loses the ball, the question needs to be asked – why is your child playing?
After a tough loss, if you spend time in the car questioning refereeing and coaching decisions, commenting on player mistakes and coming up with excuses, who is really the participant? At this point a parent is essentially making the game not about the child, but about someone else…
Obviously there are varying degrees of commentary; no doubt we all find ourselves on both sides of the spectrum at different times. The key point to remember is that it’s the child’s game; it’s their chance to play. Youth leagues around the world have recognized this as well – it’s the reason that youth leagues have established Silent Saturdays!
The odds (I mean – really, really big odds) are that your child will NOT get a college scholarship or become a professional. If that’s the case (and it is), why do some parents put so much pressure on children? Instead, why not let them simply reap the many inherent benefits of team sports, regardless of level of play? Teamwork, responsibility, cooperation, sportsmanship, etc., are valuable life lessons. Let’s let kids be kids and let them play the game on their own terms.