Why Sport Moms and Dads Go Crazy

By Janis Meredith | Posted 2/19/2019

Crazy parents are getting a lot of press these days. I see story after story of moms and dads whose sports parenting behavior has gone way past healthy. I read about parents who physically and verbally attack players, coaches, and other parents. I hear about parents who rant on the sidelines and stir up sympathy groups with other parents. As a coach’s wife for 29 years and a sports mom for 22, and now a coach’s mom, there’s not a lot of craziness that I haven’t seen.

I do not condone or excuse these ridiculous antics, but I think I can understand what drives parents to act this way. Perhaps recognizing the reasons can help you in your own struggle and give you discernment in dealing with other parents.

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What sparks the craziness?

•  Parents do it out of love. This is the foundation of everything else I will add to this list. Love is hopefully the underlying factor behind all parental behavior because we want the best for our children. Perhaps the definition of “best” is skewed, but love is definitely the driving force.

•  Parents try to recreate the past. Often, Mom or Dad was a star athlete and hopes to see their child have the same success.

•  Parents try to correct the past. Or Mom or Dad may not have been successful in sports and is living vicariously through a child’s youth sports experience.

RELATED CONTENT: 5 Dilemmas That Keep Sport Parents Up at Night

•  Parents let youth sports be an ego booster. Seeing a child do well in sports should make mom or dad proud, but when that pride morphs into an identify for the parent, it’s gone awry. Your child’s success in sports should not define who you are as a person.

•  Parents want to shield kids from blame. It’s the coach’s fault, the league’s fault, a teammate’s fault. Deflecting blame never resolves the issue, it just makes you feel justified for your craziness.

•  Parents just want to protect their kids. Being protective is a life-long parental instinct, but just because you feel protective doesn’t mean you always have to act on it. As kids mature, the protective bubble around them should evaporate.

One of the mantras around our house is “Seek to Understand.” In this case, seeking to understand what sparks the craziness in you and in your fellow sports parents might just help you make youth sports a more positive and growing experience for your child.

Janis Meredith is a family coach who wants to help all parents raise champions. You can find out more at rcfamilies.com.