One question you should ask before becoming a sports parent

By Janis Meredith | Posted 7/7/2014

If you are a beginning sports parent – your child is small and just starting out – I have a question for you. 

What kind of sports parent do you want to be if your kids are still playing when they get to high school or college?

When you have a chance to watch sports events of older kids and you look around at the parents, what kind of sports parenting do you see? You probably see both positive and negative examples.

The questions is: Which one do you want to be after your child has been playing sports for a few years? This is a choice you should make before your child ever dons a uniform.

When the kids are little, playing football and looking very cute in their uniforms, most parents take it all in stride. After all, these are just little tykes, and their games are really just entertaining social events. Young parents may look at veteran parents who’ve developed some bad habits and think, “I’ll never end up like that.”

But here's the deal: As your child continues to play sports, you will not suddenly wake up one morning and be one of those sports parenting types. It doesn’t happen overnight. It happens slowly throughout the years. It happens one choice at a time.

  • When your young child is sitting the bench more than you think he should, will you chew the coach out or confront calmly with a question like: “Is there anything that Johnny can do to improve his game?” You have a choice.​
  • When the coach calls a play that doesn’t seem too smart, will you smirk to other parents about his incompetency or will you keep your mouth shut and be grateful that he’s giving up his time to coach your child? You have a choice.
  • When your kid comes home crying that he didn’t score because little Johnny did a terrible job of blocking, will you echo his rants or will you listen to his frustration and try to help him understand how he can be a team player regardless? You have a choice.

Each choice you make will either bring you closer to becoming a strong, supportive sports parent, or it will cause you to slide down a little further on the slippery slope toward being the parent you really didn’t want to become when you started your child out in sports.

Sports parents, if you have small children, it has to start with you now – while the score is still rather meaningless, while there is no pressure on your child to perform and while your job as a parent is as easy as bringing snacks to the game. Better yet, make this choice before you even sign your child up to play.

Start choosing now in that direction. Don’t just let it happen of its own accord, because if you don’t make choices that will help you be a positive, supportive parent, you might end up being one of those obnoxious, pushy parents that you always swore you’d never be.

What kind of sports parent do you want to be when you grow up? What kind of sports parent are you now?

Janis B. Meredith, sports mom and coach’s wife, writes a sports parenting blog called JBM Thinks. Check out her Sports Parenting Survival Guide Series with survival guides for football, softball, basketball and volleyball moms.