Turnberg: Parents are sometimes the worst sportsFor adults it’s easy to pick our pastimes. We do what we want because we enjoy it. We’re able to choose how much time we spend on the golf course, on the water, on the trail or on the road. Often, it’s not quite the same for kids.
By: Michelle Turnberg, INFORUM
For adults it’s easy to pick our pastimes. We do what we want because we enjoy it. We’re able to choose how much time we spend on the golf course, on the water, on the trail or on the road.
Often, it’s not quite the same for kids.
When I was young, our basketball “program” consisted of a couple weeks in the winter. Other than that we mostly began sports in seventh grade when we started high school.
In today’s world, I watch 3-year-olds participating in hockey and gymnastics. I see elementary kids on traveling basketball teams, and I see kids “specializing” in sports before they begin junior high.
The way I see it, it isn’t so much kids who are actually specializing. Their parents are.
It is wonderful to see kids involved in activities, but I often wonder what motivates their parents.
My own kids play many sports, and I believe their participation plays an important part in their growth and development. In addition to learning about winning and losing, they discover important concepts teamwork, responsibility, working with others, sharing, sportsmanship, courtesy and graciousness.
Like all things in life, some of the lessons can be tough, but overall sports are both valuable and meaningful.
However, so many parents seem to lack perspective. How many of us have been to an event where a parent behaves poorly? It is common to witness parents yelling at officials, berating their child and slandering their child’s teammates or coaches.
Perhaps the most frightening aspect of their poor behavior is the thought that many of them might not have the sense to even realize they are wrong.
My dad coached sports for more than 30 years. He watched hundreds of athletes compete at many levels. A couple actually moved on to play professionally; many others couldn’t make their varsity team. No matter their ability or level of success, his unwavering viewpoint on sports was both simple and positive: Sports need to be fun.
This poem resonates well with me, and serves as a good reminder that they are kids, not little adults.
“He stands at the plate with his heart pounding fast; the bases are loaded, the die has been cast.
His parents can’t help him, he stands all alone.
The ball nears the plate, he swings and he misses. There’s a groan from the crowd, with some boos and hisses.
A thoughtless voice cries, ‘Strike out the bum!‘ Tears fill his eyes; this game’s not fun.
Remember … he’s just a boy who stands all alone.
So open your heart and give him a break. It’s moments like this a man you can make. Keep this in mind when you hear someone forget.
He’s just a little boy, not a man yet.”
Michelle Turnberg writes a weekly column for SheSays.