Parents: Are we Part of the Solution or Part of the Problem?
During the Fall Sports Season I have witnessed and heard unfortunate comments on social media and in the stands regarding athlete performance…sometimes, and unfortunately, with comments made to athletes other than our own and sometimes from coaches within our own coaching community. This is concerning to me as an Athletic Director who thoroughly enjoys watching our student athletes work hard and compete as hard as they can (although at times their efforts do not produce the outcome we desire, they more often than not are competing as hard as they can). These are student athletes, children, who most (not all) have dedicated a great deal of time working hard for their school and community to be the best they can be and do us all proud. Many of them have jobs; ALL of them have school pressures; yet they choose to put themselves on the line competing for all to see. Sometimes, we as parents lose sight of that and make the game bigger than what it is. We take things personal when we don’t get the results we want from our own or others and/or what we feel our athlete deserves. We then react and behave inappropriately and fill our athlete’s head with unrealistic expectations for what to expect from the school, the coach, their teammates, or themselves.
Consider the following clip?
Pretty embarrassing to watch…Are we displaying this type of behavior at games (to our child or other people’s)? Do we then discuss negatively with our athlete at home things they should have done, things others should have done, or things the coach should have done? If we are doing this, we MUST become a change agent for our school and community but most importantly, our own athlete.
As we move into our Winter Sports season, I would like to encourage us all (myself included) to remember why Education Based Athletics is such an important part of your athlete’s life. Let me first start by saying it IS NOT so your athlete plays on the Varsity, plays a certain role on the team, scores “x” amount of points, has “x” amount of touches in in a sport, has a certain number of games or matches, or gets recognized for certain accomplishments. The fact is, 97% of ALL ATHLETES NATION WIDE will not compete again after High School. That means, likely, that your child, and mine, will not compete on an organized team in sports again after High School. If that is the case, what are we preparing them for? Is that why they play and is that why we are here, to get to the next level? The answer is a resounding, no. If they get to the next level, it is a byproduct of why we are actually here…to teach them to be better people, to teach them work ethic and a desire to excel, to work together as teammates towards a common goal bigger than themselves, to serve others, to lead others…to basically become better human beings. The lessons they will learn though high school sports move way beyond what our narrow minds as parents sometimes allow us to see. The highs and lows they will experience will prepare them for their future in ways we can not imagine. Do they always play the way we want them to? Do the coaches always make the decisions we want in regard to playing time or level? I am sure your answer (and mine) is no…but better questions to ask are: Does my child have an opportunity (not a right) to play at a desired level? Are they having fun (many times parents are more concerned with issues than the athlete)? Most importantly, is my child growing as a person through sport? As we move out of Fall and into Winter, please do a self assessment as a parent and allow your child and the coaches to enjoy the 4 years they will have together here at Cloverdale High School. They will go by quickly for all involved and in the long run I assure you we all have the best interest of our athletes in mind!
Along that note, as we move out of Fall Sports and into Winter, we always have issues with Fall Break. Athletes and parents alike become frustrated with mandatory practices over a school break. Please understand the IHSAA sets Official Start dates for each sport. Each school has no input on those decisions but we do, however, have to follow them. The IHSAA also mandates minimum practices be completed before competition begins (5 for those coming from a Fall Sport and 10 for those who did not come from a Fall Sport)…again, each school has no control over this and must follow the By-Laws put in place, which, by the way, are for athlete safety. Bottom line is, if these despised practices are not held, minimum practices can not be attained and we do not have enough athletes to play in scheduled games. You have the right to take your child wherever you choose over break, but bear in mind the choices we make will have consequences regarding IHSAA eligibility and also where a coach feels he/she can comfortably count on and play your athlete.
We have great coaches here; I truly believe some of the best in the state. I look forward to watching them interact with your children and mine in an Education Based setting to achieve the best product we can for our school and community. Along the way, I assure you, if you let go and let your child progress through the season without a great deal of negative involvement, they will be better for it in the end!
Thank you for entertaining such a long article…looking forward to a great Winter and Spring and as always, IT’S GREAT TO BE A CLOVER!