“Your child can learn that he is defined by who he is, not by what he does.”
— Janis B. Meredith
Most times, parents are the ones who introduce their children to sports. As I have mentioned in one of my previous articles, sports play a vital role in a person’s development as it teaches values that we carry through our lives among them discipline, respect and teamwork. Usually parents would start encouraging their kids to play sports by enrolling them in summer camps or telling them to join their school’s sports clubs. In time, some of these kids would develop passion for sports — they start craving for competition, the satisfaction of participating in it or the bond they share with their teammates. And one should understand that developing young athletes doesn’t stop in the arena, gym or the field. Training great athletes continues at home.
I’ve been into sports as far as I can remember. My first love was swimming. My parents would always make sure that I would be in swimming classes every summer. Since then I also tried training gymnastics and playing golf. Eventually I ended up playing volleyball and trying out for the school’s varsity team. Looking back, one main reason why I stuck with this discipline is that I needed to learn more social skills, as I was a shy little girl back then, pretending to be asleep to avoid my swimming competition!
Fun to fear
It is vital that the parents of these young athletes support their kids along the way. For example, parents should show up on game days to cheer for their kids. I am so grateful that my parents made sure that they did not miss one ball game from when I started playing in my 5th grade until I graduated college. My teammate’s parents would usually have their own group, sitting and cheering together. Some parents also show support by supplying their kids with the gear they needed. I can’t imagine the number of shoes, kneepads and even clips and hair ties that I’ve collected – thanks to my mom and dad! These parents would also provide the proper nutrition for their growing athletes. I had a teammate once that had to drink soda mixed with raw egg for muscle building because his dad told her so!
These situations seem fun until some parents would go beyond being stage moms and dads and take out the fun in playing sports. It usually begins with them wanting to be the best “sports parents” to their kids. They bring them to practices and games, show up with a jug of water and towel in hand. Later on some of these parents would they try to talk to their kid’s coaches and argue why their son wasn’t given enough playing time in the court?
This is where it usually becomes problematic at least in our country. Some would agree that we are lucky not to have a LaVar Ball in our sidelines! We usually see these ultra-stage parents in the high school sporting scene where to them (usually the parents who were once athletes themselves), it becomes more important that their kids win than to have fun. Their attitude toward their kids becomes a reflection of the frustrations that they had when they were in that age. Their children become output-oriented, which is difficult in developing young athletes since they tend to focus on not making errors than just playing the game with confidence. As Coach Marcus, a sports psychology practitioner once said, “this output oriented mindset gives the athletes, even in the professional level, a harder time performing well in competitions.” In some cases, the coaches mediate when these become a problem with the parents, which affects their children’s performance.
I do hope that more and more parents would engage their children in sports and become supportive of their journey in becoming great athletes and role models of our society. I have been lucky to have parents who introduced me to sports, who guided me through my passion in playing volleyball. And echoing Kevin Durant in his 2014 MVP speech – to all the parents of athletes, you are the real MVPs!