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Are parents ruining competitive sports?

The scene is played out everyday on a field in America. Two teams meet and one team is crowned victorious. Parents cheer, athletes high five, and coaches relish in victory. Truly a Hollywood finish to a great day…..

However, a storm is being brewed by the parents whose kids did not participate.

You guessed it – the world of competitive sports.

“You would not believe the things we see from parents and athletes these days. Drunk parents fighting, 18 year old players crying, and blast emails to teams that humiliate coaches.” Stated one youth coach whom wished to remain anonymous.

In today’s youth game, parents are taking the game to an entirely different level. As cliché as this may sound, things are out of control.

“We train hundreds of travel baseball and softball teams every year. Although we are not actively involved in their seasons, we rarely see teams stay together year after year.” Stated one Big League Edge instructor BA Garner.

Parental interaction is at an all-time high as the cost to play competitive sports rises. Their perspective is limited to their own child’s needs, and oftentimes ignores the team’s needs.

“This is a team sport, but parents and athletes are forgetting this. Parents want the best eight players and their child to play. However, the solution to merging all wants into a winning season is becoming extremely complicated for coaches.” Stated Big League Edge Founder Jim Parque.

A recent New York Times study showed that over ninety percent of all competitive sports teams retain fewer than twenty percent of their athletes for the next season. This trend is being caused by parents whom make decisions based upon winning and playing time.

This alarming rate of leaving teams is flooding the NCAA levels as well. According to a 2016 Brown University study, thirty percent of all student athletes quit their programs.

And Brown University is not alone.

“We do not know how many student athletes quit our programs, but it is increasing. They have many reasons, but most of the athletes whom quit are not starters, because they are not willing to work hard enough. We suspect it is from how they conducted themselves before they stepped onto our campus.” Stated one community college athletic director whom asked to remain anonymous.

This trend is being driven by parents whom allow their kids to quit travel teams or outright remove their child from the team. Not holding athletes accountable to their commitments is not sending the right message to kids.

“I pay for my son to play, and if the team cannot help him get better, what am I paying for?” Stated one travel baseball parent whom wished to remain anonymous.

This perspective seems innocent and confounding. But when parents are polled nationally, an overwhelming seventy seven percent stated they chose a team based upon development.

However, when 250 athletes were polled by Big League Edge recently, over eighty five percent stated they wanted to play for a winning team. This data coincides with a recent Huffington Post poll that stated eighty one percent of athletes said they chose teams based upon winning record.

“The issue is that parents pay the bill, and when they feel their child is not being treated fairly, they react, rather than try to understand what the cause and solution can be.” Stated sports psychologist Jane Fischer.

This parental “reaction” is now coming in the form of jumping teams, blasting emails to coaches, and lawsuits.

The Washington Post covered a story of volleyball parents suing a league over playing time. Sports Illustrated covered a story involving a high school baseball player suing for $150,000 over being benched. Even LawQA.com has experienced parents asking if they have legal grounds to sue over playing time.

Big League Edge has experienced similar instances wherein parents threatened to sue over playing time.

“Every year a parent threatens legal action if their son does not get playing time. We tell them to go right ahead.” Stated BLE President Jim Parque.

Parque went on,

“The hardest part of forming a team these days is not recruiting talent onto rosters. It is finding coaches whom are willing to deal with ultra competitive parents. No parent condones the  parental issues competitive sports faces – until their son is supposedly mistreated.”

Granted, there are instances of coaching misconduct, but parental perspectives are usually one-sided.

Ultra competitive parents and the need to provide them therapy solutions is becoming so common, that ‘Google’ hit counters (upon the subject) number over 1,100,000.

The Huffington Post blog by “Anne” was a great example of what is going wrong – parents whose self value stems from their child’s accomplishments.

“I spend half my time trying to win, and the other half trying to keep parents off my back. When we win, I have parents upset because their kid did not play enough. When we lose, I have parents whom are upset because I did not allow their kid to help us win. There is no solution to keeping everyone happy.” Stated one travel baseball coach whom asked to remain anonymous.

Keeping parents satisfied with their child’s situation is a daunting task for coaches and organizations, because it is virtually impossible to blend all parent and athlete agendas into a winning season.

The only method that seems to be working is to define season roles. Parents cheer, coaches coach, and athletes perform. Knowing the pitfalls and understanding the shortcomings will help everyone in turning athletes into winning adults.

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