Hating Parents As A Parent (September 23, 2015)

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Updated: September 23, 2015

Parents make me angry.  Keep in mind when reading that sentence that I am a parent.  In my fifteen years of sports broadcasting I have encountered many groups of people that make me want to punch things.  But parents have always been and currently are the worst.

There’s several types of parents, and not all are bad.  Every day I run across parents who are doing the right thing, who are letting their children be themselves, and who “get it” when it comes to their role. But there are several that are the ones making a bad name for sports parents everywhere.

We know the parents.  The ones that complain about their kids’ playing time.  The ones that know better than the coach.  The ones that believe just because their kid was good in middle school, or last year, or whatever, that they’re good now.  The ones that are so self-righteous that their kids have horrible attitude.

You know the parents.  And if they don’t make you as mad as they make me, let me tell you a story.  It was at a game recently, and it didn’t involve one of the Northeast Colorado teams.  After the game was done, one of the athletes came to the box and began berating the PA guy for his “comments” during the game.

The player’s team had been manhandled by the opposition so he wasn’t too happy about that.  But he came in and started nitpicking at what the PA guy had said (none of it was inappropriate, he was describing the game).  Shortly behind him was the player’s mother, who was doing the same thing.

Rightly so, the PA guy had a very short fuse and told both the mother and the player that he was a volunteer, and if they wanted a PA guy they could find another one.  Fortunately the head coach overheard most of the situation and smoothed it over.  But it shone the light on exactly the problem.

The reason I despise parents, and most notably the parent in this situation, is they are the center of their own universe.  It’s not wrong.  We each are the center of our own universe.  I’m a parent and the most important thing in my world is me and my girls.  That’s just life.

And it’s what makes success, especially in the sports world, so unique.  You have six girls on a volleyball court, 6 to 11 guys on a football field, 9 girls on the softball diamond, and on and on.  Add in the bench players and there are multiple contributors to a team effort.

Each player and coach may say otherwise, but in the end when it truly comes down to it we each have our own “world” that comes first.  Again, it’s not bad.  In order to achieve the success that each team and individual desires in each season, each contributor’s “world” must coincide with the others on the team.

And then you have parents who have their own “world.” Whether it’s a helicopter parent “looking out for their kids best interest” or the parent “reliving the glory days” through their kid, they have their own ideas of what is “best” for the situation.

Also in the mix are the “administration,” those who are “best promoting the school or community” with their actions and other “irons in the fire.”  I’m not going to go in depth with them for fear of landing in a tirade inconsequential to the point of this column.

What would make the conundrum of sports in the 21st century far easier to bear would be an understanding that each of our “worlds” is our own.  And it should be the center of our universe.  But if it doesn’t coincide with the “world” of a sports team, or of another individual, then it’s not up to us to “change the culture” of that world.

Sports success comes from sacrifice.  If you’re put in a situation when you need to choose between one action and another, you make a sacrifice of one action over another.  That may be choosing to go play in a showcase to further your individual goals at the risk of the future team goals.  Which is more important to you and your “world’?

No one choice is right or wrong.  Anyone who looks down on your choice is judging it from their perspective.  You looking at anyone else’s choice is judging it from your perspective.  The only true definition of right and wrong comes from you.

The most egregious action of parents or athletes trying to live in their world and another at the same time is the influence on others.  I guarantee the athlete who ripped on the PA announcer learned that action from somewhere, most likely his mother, who was doing the same thing.

We need to stop trying to change the culture of others’ worlds to match up with our own.  People have been placed in their world for a reason, their reason not necessarily yours.  If you’re not confident enough in your world to live in it, to accept the consequences in other worlds for your action in yours, that’s the culture that needs to change.