Parents can serve as motivational voices for their children, pushing them to be the best they can be, but sometimes they push too far or get too intense in the process.
This intensity can lead to ugly and heated confrontations between parents and coaches, players and game officials.
“Parents want their kids to be successful, so they get protective when bad things happen. What they don’t understand is that sometimes, kids learn as much from the failures, losses, and bad experiences as they do from winning and succeeding,” Spanish teacher and youth baseball coach Aaron Fleming said.
Fleming has seen many “hover” parents try to involve themselves in places where kids should be taking action instead.
For instance, when talking about playing time, a topic that can be tough for parents to understand, both players and coaches believe that it is a player’s responsibility to talk to their coach.
“As you get older, you have to start learning to speak for yourself,” junior Sophia Saldaña, varsity volleyball player, said. “It is up to you to ask your coach what you can do to get better; it isn’t your parent’s job to go to your coach and be confrontational.”
Yet, parents have an important role and “can make a difference by encouraging their kids to work hard and tell them that results and minutes will come by them giving it their all,” varsity football player junior Matthew Kentgen said.
Positive words from parents can make a big difference among athletes, especially when ideas such as “hard work” and “dedication” are stressed.
When it comes to arguing with officials, though, many athletes say that is not a parent’s place. In fact, it may actually sway the official against the team out of irritation. “If there is a close call and the referee is debating over which decision to make, he is not going to side with the obnoxious side of the crowd,” Kentgen said. Parents and fans are asked to exit the stands when they are not behaving appropriately.
Even when fans and parents yell advice, they are still disturbing the flow of the game. Shouting advice and commands from the stands can confuse players and frustrate coaches which tampers with the flow of the game and the quality of play.
“When you’re coaching, you need one voice,” football and basketball coach Mike O’Brill said. “You can’t have the fans, parents, students, and everyone else talk and give your players advice when they should be listening to the coach.”
However, when parents and fans decide not to get involved in the game directly and cheer and encourage instead, the results are often astonishing.
“It always feels great to have your parents cheering you on while you’re playing an intense game,” sophomore Ally Block, varsity soccer player, said.
A simple holler by spectators can ignite a flame under an athlete. “The parents and fans are there to get the team and each other going. When the gym is loud with lots of cheering and excitement, that can really benefit the players,”basketball coach Trent Greco said.
Parents are a key part of athletics since they hold such an important role as both a fan and a role model for players. When they are in sync with coaches and players, the three create a recipe for success.
“We should all focus on the positive outcomes of participation and competition and enjoy being a part of the team,” athletic director Jarret Kirshner said.