I have a question for parents. How far will you go to make sure your child is successful at their sport or activity?
In my 20 plus years of coaching, most of it in girls softball, I have countless stories I could tell about how parents lose their mind when it comes to their kids and softball. Here are just a few examples:
2006 – A family wanted a full refund after their daughter decided she did not want to play “A” ball anymore. When I told them that our policy did not require them to a full refund, after all our tournaments were paid for based on a budget built on them being counted in the number of players on the team. Well they lost their mind, called me every name in the book and for the next 6 years stopped speaking to me. To this day they are probably still mad at me.
2007 – One of my best players was being secretly recruited by our older team, which was back stabbing at a high level, and when I called her out on playing for the older team without my knowledge she and her dad came unglued and quit my team. They tried to leave for another organization in our district, but she needed me to release her.
2007 – One of my high school player’s mom goes berserk because her senior daughter was not voted to be a captain by her peers. The kid called the mom as soon as practice was over and before I could get my equipment off the field, this crazy parent shows up from about 15 minutes away as if she was playing Crazy Taxi, literally jumping out of the car as it was still moving to tell me how bad a person I was for not making her daughter a captain.
2014 – A parent of a kid on my 12 and under team decided not to buy one of my books because I didn’t pick her daughter for the summer team after taking her in the fall. The irony here is the book is for parents.
2014 – Little league parents orchestrate a super team with parents of the best pitchers and players agreeing to coach together so that their kids would be on the same in house league team at 10u with one parent saying they, the parents have egos too. Also she stated she wants to make sure her kid gains her confidence back after having it torn down last year by a tough coach. My question to this parent was what about the kids the super team will be beating up on, and whether or not these kids should have their confidence torn down.
2014 – Parents support abusive college coach and his staff who was removed for Title IX and NCAA violations, yet they blame the removal on everyone except the coach and his staff. Because I put pressure on the administration to listen to the players, these parents targeted my daughter and me. In 2015 one these parents sent me a nasty email calling me every derogatory name and blaming me for the behavior of the coach and his staff.
I am amazed by what parents will do to satisfy their own ego especially when it comes to athletics. Over the past few years I have been able to experience something that I liken to the “Stockholm syndrome”. When an institution, through its agents, harms its customers and that very customer defends and even fights the institution and other customers on behalf of that agent then you have the equivalent of the kidnapper being defended by the kidnapped victim.
So the question as a parenting “expert” is why would a student athlete defend the very person that has actually harmed them? One reason would be because the victim is too impressionable and immature to see or even know what is happening to them.
If parents are completely honest they will have to admit that they live vicariously through their kids’ sports. But what good does it do for the kid when the parents step in for the sole purpose of trying to give their kid more playing opportunities? On the other hand telling a parent to be hands off in situations where some type of abuse or violation is taking place doesn’t work either.
Coaches who approach their job and responsibility from a transformational place can handle the parent. Parents who are interested in developing their kid will operate with respect for the game, their kid, and the coach.