Sports Parenting 101- Children Learn What They Live


A child allowed to quit learns to quit.

This might have been the best sporting lesson I ever learned. My father taught me one simple lesson. If you start, you finish. You never leave the coach in a lurch and you never leave your teammates in a lurch. Unfortunately in this day and age parents do the quitting for the kids, “in their best interest”. Quitting “in their best interest” is still quitting. Is leaving a school or team because you aren’t playing quitting? Is leaving a school or team because you aren’t playing enough, or in the right situations, still quitting? The answer to all of the above is still yes. Many parents will hide under the academic skirt but, this is true in a few cases and a better sounding excuse for changing schools in most.

Why are kids becoming spoiled and self-centered. Because we as parents make them that way. Any time a young athlete is allowed or even encouraged to leave a situation that is less than favorable either due to playing time or coaching, they are being allowed to quit. We can package quitting up any way we want but, we are still allowing them to quit.

Here is the lesson in a nutshell.

“ If you don’t get what you want, forget perseverance, leave and go somewhere else”

What a great life lesson to teach a young person. We will literally teach that “when the going gets tough, the tough get going” Unfortunately, they usually go somewhere else.

Parents love to try to hide behind the semantics but, the truth does not change. If we want our children to be hard working and display desire and determination we must teach them about perseverance, not about rationalization.

The placement of adult values into the lives of young people is the greatest threat to youth sports. Think about this for a moment. Instead of giving your child every opportunity you never had as a child, think about giving them the values that your parents and coaches instilled in you that have made you successful. Success skips a generation for a reason. It skips because we don’t teach values. Don’t live vicariously. Instead, work diligently to instill values.

One clue. If you ever said “we” when referring to what your child is going to do, you may be on your way to a problem. Try to remember that the purpose of sport is to teach kids about values. Unfortunately oftentimes we do teach values, just the wrong ones.

3 Responses to “Sports Parenting 101- Children Learn What They Live”

  1. […] Sports Parenting 101- Children Learn What They Live […]

  2. Great topic! I speak on it often with my parents. I am finding that most parents never played at a competitive level, have been to far removed from sports, and/or have the ability to understand the correlation between the importance of discipline in sport and how this discipline transfers off field. At the end of the day these kids are not pro athletes they are future coaches, teachers, directors, managers, parents etc…

  3. Amen, Mike. And, lest we forget, sports-parenting sometimes begets parent-coaching, which creates, and occasionally magnifies, the same issues. As a parent, trainer, and coach, I have seen, firsthand, the destruction of a young person’s athletic interests by a parent who volunteers to be a coach, and then decides that a coach is the worst gym teacher (s)he ever had as a child.

    Hey, parents! Do you remember playing? Street football? Sandlot baseball? Dodgeball? Tag? Why did you play? The answer is easy.

    Playing is fun.

    When we begin to impose our ideas of winning and competition on our kids, or the kids we coach, we are threatening the core and foundation of their interest in being active.

    Coach Boyle mentions the kids who quit because they’re not getting much playing time. What isn’t mentioned is that most parents whose kids are only going to play 4 minutes won’t bother going to the game.

    What’s the message to the player? ‘If you’re not one of the best, you’re not worth my time.’

    Fair? No.

    Common? Hell, yes.

    Parents, your kids play for the same reasons that you did when you were little. It’s fun. They love it. I daresay that even the kid who sits on the bench but loves the game is having fun watching it. She’s still a part of the team. She’s got a front row seat. She has a chance to improve at a game she loves every afternoon after school. What’s not to love?

    The next time your young player comes home, be she benchwarmer or starter, don’t ask the score. Don’t ask how she played.

    Ask her if she had fun.

    Because that’s the point.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: