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Parents Talk: Fighting On and Off the Field

Are parent’s attitudes from the stands rubbing off on players?

During one of the first years my son played baseball, I remember a parent from an opposing team who routinely sat as close as he could to the field and constantly yelled at his son.

No matter what his 9-year-old son did, apparently it was wrong in his father’s eyes. I felt bad for the kid, his teammates and, well, pretty much everyone that had to listen to it. I couldn't wait for the game to be over. 

Fast-forward to recently and we hear of incidents of player infractions such as recent fighting on the field during a Totino-Grace High School and Prairie Seeds Academy boys varsity soccer game.

The competition in youth sports has seems like it is at a point where more parents are trying to “coach” from the stands and players might be taking out their frustrations in other ways.

Are the parent’s attitudes from the stands rubbing off on the players?

Trust me, I understand tensions run high. I’ve been on both sides of the bench as both a player and a parent. And, sometimes teams trash talk. But, what happened to taking the high road? The road of support and “just playing the game” verses the road of criticism and confrontation.

After all, it is just a game.

Share your thoughts: Are the parent’s attitudes from the stands rubbing off on the players? Are parents putting more pressure on players? Share your thoughts in comments below.

Doug Lind October 27, 2012 at 03:23 AM
Parents at games are mostly useless; they add unnecessary pressure and behave badly at times. Let the kids play and tell you about it later. High school sports have always had the occasional fights. The history of town rivalries around the state would stand your hair on end. There's probably less skirmishing now than there was in many Minnesota towns over the years.
Shari Dion October 27, 2012 at 03:44 PM
I don't know if there are or are not more parents pressuring kids and/or otherwise behaving in an unsportsmanlike manner now than in the past. My sense is that the number of parents who behave well outnumbers those who do not. That is why poor behavior sticks out to us and makes so many of us uncomfortable; it is not the approach that most of us would take. (I am sure there are some parents who give their child "feedback" at home even if they hold back during competitions.) I'd really like to hear from current and past student athletes. I wonder if student athletes like, dislike, or feel indifferent to: 1. having parents/family present during the competition? 2. having an audience in general? 3. having an audience that is making some noise? What do we need to know from the student's perspective? After all, these experiences are intended to provide them with opportunities for fun, fitness, teamplay, self-discipline, and other good things. How do students feel we are doing? What are the best ways we can support their development through athletics and similar opportunities? People really vary in their expectations and how they experience things so youth, like adults, will have different opinions on these matters, and there will always be differences in how families raise their kids. Still, it would be helpful to hear from any who would share their perspective. Past and present student athletes, what do you think?
Doug Lind October 28, 2012 at 01:42 PM
Shari - I played youth sports from pee wees through college. We saw few parents at our games and practices, and preferred it that way. Peer pressure is intense, and your performance is a key to your group status. We didn't need relatives telling us we were all above average. I feel sorry for the little folks who must play in front of hunreds of adults (positive or otherwise). The overmatched kid who strikes out 3 times is miserable enough. A friend coaches one of the top high school hockey teams in the state. His stories or parental abuse, threats and manipulation are beyond disgusting. This has been going on for 25 years and is just getting worse. My parents saw few of my games and that was OK. I got all the support and encouragement I needed when I got home.
Tony Nickelsen October 31, 2012 at 08:07 PM
The fighting that took place with Totino & PSA in boys soccer sections was a huge disappointment. However, lost in the on/off field skirmish was the fact Prairie Seed had an illegal player on their team for the whole season and it just came to the MSHSL's attention. This kind of cheating attitude bothers me more then the fight.
Doug Lind October 31, 2012 at 11:42 PM
The kind of corruption that has been the norm in college football and basketball factories has seeped down to high school. Winning is all that counts and cheating is just another way to build "the program." It's sad to note that professional sports are cleaner that academic sports. The highest paid public employee in the state is...the U of M's basketball coach.

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