Every sports parent I talk to has a story about another crazy sports parent that acts up either before, during, or after a game. Or maybe during all three.
There’s no doubt that there’s plenty of insanity going around in youth sports these days. If you consider yourself one of the “sane” ones, how can you keep from letting the toxicity get to you? How do you not become tainted with the negativity?
I’ve been a sports mom for 22 years and here’s how I managed to survive without letting it turn me into a crazy person.
I stayed away from sympathy groups
Those are the groups of parents and spectators that stand around after the game or sit together during the game to rehash, criticize and commiserate. They are toxic. Stay away.
Either walk away when it starts or tactfully change the trajectory of the conversation. Whatever you do, don’t stand there and listen. It will only make you mad at someone.
I sometimes sat away from parent clumps
Actually, I did this more than sometimes, I did it most of the time. In basketball, my husband and I had our upper left corner of the gym, away from the fray.
In softball, when my husband coached, I often sat alone near the outfield. I was not going to listen to them bash the coach and spew garbage to their kids.
In football, I merely tried to sit in friendly territory, either with other coach’s wives or family and friends who I knew to be sane.
I turned down the volume
Unfortunately, no matter how hard you try to stay away from the negativity, you will sometimes still have to hear and observe it. And when that happens, you can choose to turn down the volume of whoever is spewing it.
My husband did this all the time with a verbally abusive father, who very often demeaned and harshly criticized him. He would picture himself turning down a volume button and tuning his dad out when he got on a rampage.
If you are surrounded and can’t get away from the toxic noise, tune them out.
And then I turned up the volume
Turning down the volume doesn’t work unless you find something else to fill the “silence.” Turn up the volume of thoughts that focus on the bigger picture of youth sports. It is not about the trophies and awards. It is not about that elusive college scholarship.
It is about the person that your child becomes in the process. If you can keep your focus on that, you will survive youth sports without a scratch.
Janis Meredith is a family life coach who wants to help parents raise champions. You can find out more at rcfamilies.com.