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As a sports writer, I’ve witnessed parents living vicariously through their children in sports. I know it’s not only in Grant County, but also is a national issue.
I have seen a parent get into a volatile argument with the coach, parents yelling about the game calls from the referees in the stands at a football game, even parents from different schools getting into nasty exchanges in the stands.
While covering a middle school football game on the sidelines, I could hear vulgar chants from the stands at the referees because of the officiating. Not only were parents doing it, but also children were using insults. What kind of example do you think that is giving them?
Last season in basketball, while covering the 32nd District Tournament, a parent of one of the basketball players made an obscene gesture to Braves coach Jim Hicks after a loss to Walton-Verona.
There is simply no need for any kind of behavior.
When attending a game, cheer the team on and don’t worry if your child gets a lot of playing time or not.
On Nov. 28, I was sitting in the stands waiting for the junior varsity game between Grant County and Bellevue to end; when I heard some people yelling towards one of the Grant County girls for the way she was dribbling the ball towards the basket.
There is a time for criticism and a time not to criticize.
There is too much emphasis on whether children are getting enough playing time or if the team is going to win the regional tournament. What should be important is that your child is enjoying the game. If they are not enjoying their time on the field, court or track, then why should they be a part of a sports team? It is their life and their dreams and parents should take a step back for a minute and look at whether they are allowing their child to pursue their dreams or they are pursuing yours.
I look back at a story my dad told me a couple of months ago at a restaurant.
My brother, Pat, played recreational soccer in Dillsboro, Ind. and the team was a good team, but at a tournament game, my dad was sitting behind two women in the stands and overheard their conversation of them talking about a player not playing to their expectations. They turned around and asked my dad for his opinion and he told them, they were discussing his son. Their reaction was of embarrassment, which it should be.
In an article from the website Sign of the Times, it struck me as a way that every parent should live by. It has steps to remedy the situation and it explains that parents are the only way it can be corrected.
As I delved deeper in the article, it explained some situations where a parent jumped into a pool to yell at their son for not winning a race. What is wrong with this picture?
I think it’s an overemphasis on sports that put too much stress on the kids.
The article lists eight steps to achieving a peaceful more calm approach to watching your children in sports.
• Focus on your child’s needs, not your own.
• Ask yourself this crucial question: “What do I want my child to get out of sports?
• Cheer for every child playing in the game.
• Know and respect the difference between encouraging and pushing.
• Be respectful and grateful to the officials.
• Talk to the parents of the other team.
• Attend practice sessions with your child.
• Offer to help the coach.
This isn’t to say that there are not good parents in the community. I have seen some wonderful examples of these eight steps.
At the opening day of Little League and T-ball, I saw a community that enjoyed the whole game no matter what the outcome was and that is the way it should be at every level.
When the Gold Midgets won the Super Bowl, the parents were cheering and informing their children that they won, even though the children looked unsure of what they just accomplished. Even with the win, the Gold Midgets showed good sportsmanship with Walton-Verona’s team by shaking their hands after the win. It was good to see good still out there on the field.
I may be old-fashioned, but these eight steps hold true for any parent, whether it is youth sports, recreational sports, or school sports. No matter what age your child is, respect the game and let your child do what his God-given ability is and win or lose, be respectful of the outcome and it won’t make you look ridiculous.
(Matt Birkholtz is the sports writer for the Grant County News. He can be reach at 824-3343 or email@example.com.)