Parents vs. Youth Athletes
A couple weeks ago a disturbing video went viral of two coaching staffs getting into a brawl following a youth football game. It is difficult to comprehend why an incident like this could occur, and it got me thinking about a few things:
At this level, kids are learning the basics of competition, and have NO idea what kind of impact sports can have on their lives if they develop a passion, and decide to pursue them throughout their childhood and into early adulthood. Youth athletes are too young to understand the beautiful attributes of sports, including the healthy habit of exercise, which effectively gets them out of the house and away from the TV. They are also too young to understand the benefit sports will teach them about the basics of friendship, work ethic, teamwork, discipline, perseverance, time management, and much more. Getting involved in sports at a young age is a beautiful thing, and when incidents like this occur, where parents actions push kids AWAY from wanting to participate, it is disturbing. The WORST thing a parent or coach can do to a young athlete is put themselves before their kids.
As I further reflected on this incident, I wondered if this event would negatively affect the kids' attitude toward sports. Were the kids scarred to see their coaches and parents get into a brawl after their game? Would it take them a while to want to play sports again, after witnessing such an altercation?
There is a time and place when sports can be taken more seriously... where coaches can get upset with a ref, an opposing coach, or a player. However, youth sports are not the time or place. Let the kids run around, have fun, eat orange slices at halftime, respectfully shake their opponents' hands, and then celebrate a win or loss with cupcakes. This innocent approach will encourage them to value the spirit of sports. As kids get older and more mature, then parents can open their mouth a little more often. But for now, keep it shut… and always take the high road.