Between the ages of 6-15 my three kids played an average of two sports per child. That includes Little League Baseball, AYSO soccer, YMCA basketball, and various travel teams. That amounts to approximately 60-teams total that one of my kids was on over a 19-year span. And guess what, I didn’t learn a thing about being a good parent in the stands over those two decades. My sister-in-law said most astutely, Dads can suck the fun out of anything. Looking back I could kick myself for thinking the game or my kids level of play was so important that I would occasional yell from the stands or talk down on my kids after the game…what a shame on me. Unfortunately, I wasn’t alone. In those two decades I saw more pyscho-dads than I care to count. There is a gene in men that makes us go beserk when we feel our child isn’t being treated right by the coach, which is often just another dad. Little League Baseball was the worst as parents felt like they knew more than they did and would constantly yell their opinions at the kids and their coaches. What dad didn’t want their kid to play shortstop and bat clean-up…probably the rationale ones. It tapers off in AYSO soccer because parents in LA don’t know enough about soccer to know what they’re yelling at. How many times was your kid on a team that was coached by a dad that played their own son or daughter wherever the the dad wanted him to play even though his talent level was just average or below? If you could sit up in the stands and listen to the bickering of unsatisfied parents it would be overwhelming. We had two games I can remember where fights broke out between the parents which I’m sure embarrassed the hell out of their children. You can find psycho-parents at any level, even cute little 7-year old girls playing soccer would have a group of parents getting way too emotional…7 years old! I guess they had good reason because all of those kids were going to one day turn pro, how about zero. Moms for the most part are much more stable at their kids sporting events. I guess that they just love their kids for who they are and come to support their child. Not dads, we want to make-up for any shortcomings we had in our earlier lives and take it out on our children. I could go out to a Little League game today and it would be the same thing. You don’t realize how foolish you’ve been until your children have grown-up and you have become that much wiser about what is important. Here are some of my least favorite moments in kids sports:
1) In a tee-ball game with kids 6 & 7 years old the two opposing coaches met at the pitchers mound and physically fought. This was the first experience playing on a baseball team for these kids and it had to be scary watching their coaches (dads) in physical contact…screw baseball lets go back to playing video games. 2) The dad that would get right behind the backstop with his fingers clinching the fencing and yell at his kid to RELAX while he was up at bat. That must be a new relaxation technique, it didn’t work. 3) The dad who got kicked out of a game for being too loud in the stands. He then began yelling from the parking lot 100-yards away while holding a pair of binoculars…classic. 4) Perhaps my favorite was at a soccer game game when one of the dads actually brought a bullhorn to the game to yell instructions to his kid…very subtle. 5) Any parent who would yell at the opposing team and call a kid an ” Easy Out” thus shattering any confidence the poor kid had left. 6) The dad who yelled at his kid for striking out 3-times and telling him in front of everyone that he would be sleeping in the garage that night. 7) All the coaches who yelled at their pitchers “Just throw strikes ” , no shit Sherlock, I thought I would just continue to walk batters until everyone yells at me. I could go on and on but the more I write the more upsetting it gets. I was told once by an older gentleman that a child should never be criticized in front of others, it just hurts the child and causes embarrassment and if you do have criticism, limit it to one point or you will lose the child’s attention because after that the child feels as there being scolded. I also have numerous memories of fun and laughter and feeling pride when my children were happy with themselves, these are the memories I enjoy. Even leaving work early to coach the kids was worth every minute of it. We just need to eliminate the fun sucking dad gene.