Thursday, August 23, 2012

Youth Sports: Parents Suck (Part 2)

Crazy Youth Sports Parents and Coaches Series

In the last post, I suggested that parents should limit their role in youth sports to sperm and egg donors, check writers, schedulers and bus drivers. My rant was about the parent-led drama-filled story about my daughter's AAU spring / summer basketball season.

U15 Nations Baseball World Series Champ
Thanks to another group of parents, my son's spring / summer baseball team was a debacle too. Don't get me wrong, the action on the field was great. The boys all liked each other and played hard. They struggled to get wins early in the season, but came on very strong at the end of the season and won the Nations Baseball World Series in Pensacola, Florida.

The parents are the ones who made the season quite miserable. Parent coaches sparked discontent among many of the other parents. Youth sports parents with competing interests and goals often leads to no good.

The team was originally billed as a professionally coached team. They had a hitting coach, a pitching coach, an ex-minor league catcher to coach catching and all baseball fundamentals. The two parent coaches on the staff both had roles one the team too. They were tasked with the administration work and management of the games and practices when the professional coaches were not around.

One of the reasons my son picked the team was because he made an instant connection with the hitting coach at tryouts. Sadly, my son never saw that hitting coach again after the tryouts due to personal reasons and conflicts.

The pitching coach, a former minor league player and son of one of the dad coaches, was / is terrific. He could teach and had a great rapport with the kids. The only issue with him was that he was not a regular sideline coach. He was primarily available in the winter, but not very much during the regular season. This was not an issue for my son because he does not pitch, but the other very talented pitchers on the team could have benefited from more pitching instruction.

The "ex-minor league catcher" coach was terrific coach too. He's a young, energetic and credible. The kids loved him. The problem, he coached high school baseball and was not available until the later half of the first season. And by the second season, he was not available at all due to a work / grad school conflict.

That left two dad coaches. Another dad, also joined the staff to help out. So essentially, we had an elite team with three parent coaches. This is not unheard of, most of the teams had dad coaches too, but it did not seem to work in this case.

Many of the parents did not like how their kids were being played (positions, batting order, playing time, etc.) vis-a-vis the coaches kids, actually one of the kids in particular. The anger and resentment boiled up and up as the season went on. The bickering and complaining got louder and louder as the season went on. The calls to the coaches to complain became more and more frequent. I buried my head in the stats book and tried to steer clear of it as best I could, but it was pervasive among the dads and the moms. I have learned over the years that complaining does not work. It actually makes you feel worse about the situation and yourself.

In Pensacola, Florida, the the last pitch was thrown and the kids collected their championship trophies. Five minutes later, all of the families jumped in their cars for an 11 hour drive, and the majority of the team would never play together again. It didn't matter that the kids really enjoyed playing together.

The Main Point

If your son plays baseball at a high level, get him on a team with a professionally paid coach who calls the shots, makes the line up and assigns positions based on merit. And have your son work hard to earn his spot. And finally, during the season don't complain and make the season miserable for everyone else.

Trust me at the end of the day, talent will eventually win out. It always does.

The parents on this team were fun to be around when baseball was not the topic. I will actually miss hanging out with them. I have learned that many parents make a lot of emotionally based mistakes with their first young athletes. I was one of these complaining parents with my first kid and a little with my second kid earlier in his career. Overtime, I figured out that complaining was counter-productive and stressful. The parents from this baseball team will figure it out too. I wish them and their kids well.


  1. Sad. Parents do know how to ruin a good thing. I strongly encourage anyone with the $ to find a team that has professional coaches with no kid on the team.

  2. Parents as coaches for higher level teams is trouble. Case in point, at one soccer game today a parent coach ended up screaming at our group of parents and ultimately got a yellow card. Not only did she make an a-- out of herself but she embarassed her daughter and her club.

    1. Unfortunately, I have seen paid coaches to that too. THanks for adding to the conversation.

  3. I have a daughter that a long time ago decided to swim for a sport. Sure she tried some other things early on, but swim was for her. It sucked for me as I only knew games with balls growing up. But it is a wonderful sport in that the team aspect is not very big. You don't really have to worry about playing time or who bats where in the lineup. Really at the end of the day the only decision that really matters is who swims on the 'A' relay at the state meet. And my daughter is not in that running.

    Some parents still find things to complain about. I have realized over time the team is run a certain way and the owner isn't going to change so complaining does no good. If something bothers me enough I will leave. It is nice though to only worry about what my daughter does although some parents still do the comparisons.

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  5. It is disheartening to see parents who lose sight of the true purpose of youth sports, which is to promote physical activity, teamwork, and personal development. Instead, some parents become overly competitive, putting excessive pressure on their children to perform at all costs.

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