White Line Fever

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Will Ferrell getting way too intense in the movie "Kicking and Screaming"

What makes some parents at sporting events become overly competitive, in front of their own children? What sort of an example do they think are they setting? Are they trying to live their lives through their offspring? What makes them behave like this, and why do they think it is OK to do so?

I have been coaching kids sport for over 25 years, and have been a parent for half that time. I don’t find this is going away, and it could be getting worse.

Recent examples I’ve seen (from oppositions, fortunately my own team’s parents would not do this, or I would jump on it!) are:

– berating referees and umpires, even their own coaches,
– questioning decisions and rumbling on about it throughout the game and afterwards
– accusing opposition coaches and players of cheating (when it is quite the reverse!)
– questioning the bowling action of a 8 year old (seriously!)
– stirring up their own team to do all the above
– ignoring the rules of the league itself regarding giving everyone a turn in batting and bowling order (strict rotation is supposed to happen – some teams simply ignore it giving their better players all the main roles)
– shouting at their own fielders during the game (as the bowler is running up) changing their positions- the poor kids don’t understand why they are being moved, nor learn anything from it
… and many more

I think what annoys me most is seeing parents more interested in winning than teaching. They have lost sight of what weekend support is supposed to be about. I see this behaviour in adults too often generally, but here it’s worse. Kids learn from modelled behavior, and pick up a tremendous amount from their parents!

Let us remember that no parent/coach/umpire is getting paid but is giving up their time to ensure little Johnny or Gemima get some weekend activity, perhaps pick up a sport along the way, make new friendships and maybe develop some skills.

It’s behaviour that reflects badly on grown ups who should know better, and gives the worst example in what sport should be about – fair play, winning (or losing) graciously, playing the best you can, respecting the opposition…

I’ve seen too much of this over the years to dismiss it lightly. It is becoming the norm, not the exception. It’s sad, and in many ways quite pathetic.

Being a parent surely includes instilling values in your children, setting the example, teaching them things that books can’t. Losing is something that happens in life. Something we can draw the most lessons from. Something that makes us stronger and more resilient.

Parents – don’t live your own life through your children – they have their own lives. Live yours. Be the best example you can be.

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3 thoughts on “White Line Fever

  1. Couldn’t agree more. Further more I believe this form of behaviour, parents living their shortcomings in life through their children, is abuse as well as bullying of their children by robbing of them their innocence to grow their own God given lives and withholding the nurturing they ought to deliver as parents.
    Cheers
    MA

  2. Well put Charlie and it’s not just in sport but also in their academic progress as well.I taught a girls a few years ago – academic prize winner, Ist team lacrosse player, YE Company MD, talented musician etc. etc. who said “Whatever I do it will never be enough for my mother” Poor kid!

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