EDITORIAL: Parental Reminder

The fall sports season begins this week – as our Extra Point! insert so loudly trumpets. For the most part, it’s a great time of the year. But all of us who are parents of school-age athletes need to remember that success in sports is not necessarily about winning or losing games-or even getting abundant playing time. Success in sports is about our kids learning positive-if sometimes painful-lessons about life.

Sometimes we parents forget that. Frustration about what we perceive to be “unfair” situations involving our children leads some to cross the line between parental involvement in our children’s sports experience and parental interference.

Last year we ran an article in our first Extra Point! on the problems that arise for everyone-coaches, team members and our own kids-when parents cross that line. As we begin a new season, we thought it would be appropriate to re-run a list of parental do’s and don’ts that come directly from our coaches-the ones who usually face the brunt of our inappropriate behavior.


Attend your child’s games whenever possible.

Be positive about your child’s involvement in the game, even if it’s limited.

Encourage your player to have a good attitude and have fun.

Praise the play of your child but also the play of teammates.

Encourage your athlete to work on his or her skills during the off-season.

Join the school’s booster club or find tangible ways to support the team.

Introduce yourself to the coach prior to or during the season.

Let the coach know if the coach can do something to help meet the needs of your child.

Try to see circumstances through the coach’s eyes, too, not just the child’s eyes.

f you feel you need to talk to the coach about team issues, go to learn and not to educate.

Be discreet when you meet the coach.

Realize that being part of a team has positive benefits, regardless of playing time or performance-and remind your child of that, too.

Discount negative “coffee shop talk” that undermines a coach or team; emphasize the positives.

Thank coaches for the time they invest in your child.


Shout critical comments from the stands about the coach, your child’s play or the play of teammates.

Criticize your child’s coach or teammates in front of your child.

Voice your concerns to a coach immediately after a game; give yourself time to cool off and gain perspective.

Coach from the stands.

Instruct your child about athletic techniques in a way that conflicts or interferes with the coach’s instruction or philosophy.

Put too much pressure on your child to perform.

“Gang up” with other parents who happen to share similar concerns about a coach’s approach.

Go over the head of the coach to voice your complaints, especially if you haven’t spoken first to the coach.

Try to fulfill or relive your athletic aspirations through the participation of your child.

Elevate the role of sports in your child’s life above the child’s education and character development.

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