Get your head in the game!


Brody has committed to trying basketball again for the second time, only because we are friends with the coach. And although this may not be his sport or something that comes naturally, he’s trying and seems to be having a decent time. He tries hard, just like he is in indoor soccer too. He’s no natural athlete but for the first time in his life, he seems to be consistently trying or caring about sports. And, that’s cool with us.

As parents, we just want a little friendly competition and exercise with friends. And, I believe it’s good to get out of your comfort zone and try new things. It’s healthy for everyone, kids and adults. So, I am pleased and enjoy watching him care and try. And, most parents I have witnessed in these non-competitive leagues also seem to take the laissez faire attitude to being spectators.

But, the ones who don’t, don’t. Most parents are just there to watch but then there are those that are there to win. The minority who are there to win make it hard to watch. These sideline parents think they need to coach their kid, even though they didn’t volunteer to coach. Yelling from the bleachers, the way they put down their 10-year-old boys is hard to watch. It makes you feel bad to hear, so just imagine being on the receiving end of:

“Get your arms up!”

“What are you doing!?”

“Get your head in the game!”

“Come on…you can do better than that!”

And, the harsh delivery makes these useless words all the more hard to hear. We had a set of parents who decided after the first loss that they were going to switch leagues. And, it was no coincidence that these were also the parents that I looked back at several times as they both yelled negative comments towards their son, who is good, from the sidelines during that one game.Who’s having fun if the sole focus is on winning at this age? Get a grip!

It’s another reason I am more than totally fine not rushing competitive sports in elementary school. Sports should be fun at this age. It’s the adults who can make it less than. Kids under 10 should be allowed and encouraged to try new sports, miss some baskets, laugh at their mistakes, and enjoy the game more than winning. But, it’s disappointing when adults model the importance of winning and having to be the best at all costs.

Our first basketball game was 76 to 4. The other team is a competitive travel team who decided to join this league to show everyone how good they are. Their coach encouraged them not to stop scoring and yelled at them when they messed up 70 points in. And that proves what?…..


This ultra-competitve sports culture in America is just ridiculous. And, it really makes you wonder what’s lacking in the parent’s lives that make them so hyper-focused on their child’s athletic abilities and wins. When parents take the time after the game to lecture what their child should have done differently or why they played so badly, it just makes me wonder if that is really going to motivate the child to do better. What’s the point?

Can we be excited and celebrate when they do get their first basket or goal? Yes! But, we should be celebrating because we see our children’s proud face. So, from here on out, I will continue giving those few parents the look. I will remind myself not be that parent. I will continue to keep perspective and recognize the positives and not the negatives. I will congratulate good losses. I will tell Brody good game when he tries hard, and praise effort. And, I will thank our volunteer coach for his time, patience, and encouragement. That’s what sports should really be about. Most of these kids who are getting yelled out aren’t going to grow up to be professional athletes so chill! Enjoy the game. And, be a good sport. These values carry over to life. These lessons make for kinder, happier, real gamers!


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