After seeing the last story and video of parents fighting at a youth sports league event in Colorado, I can’t keep quite anymore.
As a former youth athlete (a long, long time ago), parent, and now sports league commissioner/organizer, I had to address this issue from all sides.
As with all my post, my hope is to give some prospective and possibly spark some conversations so we as a community can solution this issue and get back to focusing on what really matters the most, KIDS having fun and developing as athletes!
Let me start by saying parents need to understand that as a youth athlete (age 6 – 13) the only thing they really care about is the social interaction and having as much fun as possible. At the youth stage wins and loses, personal statistics, and their personal popularity is not their focus or goal, and nor should it be.
There’s a simple reason why a young athletes (boy or girl) may be too interested in the later, and the reason is usually somewhere sitting in the bleachers.
With that being said, here are three simple reasons why parents are fighting so much these days at youth sporting events.
#1 – The parents are too invested in their child’s “performance” instead of their child’s development as a person and athlete.
Some of the parents are living out their athletic aspirations and goals through their children. There are a lot of parents that struggle with separating themselves from their child’s athletic participation. These parents are also easy to spot at the games. They’re the one’s that are over-instructing their child’s play from the stands. Yelling aggressively at the officials. And always having words with the coach to gain favor or express ill-feelings they have about their child’s play and/or lack thereof.
Here’s a quick take-away for parents of young athletes. Your child will be a person a lot longer than he or she will be an athlete. Teach them to be the best person they can be and use sports participation and development as a leverage to assist you as a parent.
#2 – The parents disregard their children’s physical AND mental safety.
Let me be 100% clear, the safety of a kid’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being at youth league sporting events should be considered as one of the epicenters of a kid’s development. If parents could see the horror and terror in the eyes of the children when fighting occurs… Parents fighting at youth sporting events should be an unthinkable act.
Hell, I’ve heard of boxers and MMA fighters that don’t allow their young children to watch their matches. As parents we can’t get caught in our emotions of a situation and think nothing else matters because things have a way of escalating very quickly.
Last, #3 – The parents don’t understand the liability issue that could get the entire league itself shut down.
This may go without saying, but please understand that youth sports league organizers don’t do what they do for the money. 9 out of 10 times they’re using our own money or asking for sponsors just to have the leagues. The time alone that is spent setting-up and running the leagues are a huge invest. When parents fight at youth sports league events it’s like saying to the organizer, volunteers, and sponsors,
“Hey, F’#@! all you guys, and these kids too because how I feel right now is more important and my ego is demanding I show everyone how tough I am!”
Even though the organizers all have league insurance, God forbid something bad happens. They could still lose their insurance coverage or the facilities that they rent or use, which would cause the league to have to shut down.
In this scenario, the kids are the one that would be hurt the most, not the parents, so think about that and let’s put a stop to parents fighting at youth sports events.
Here’s one way we can stop the fighting. Understand that attempting to take someone’s dignity or humiliate them in private or public, will most likely trigger a negative response no matter the race, gender, religion, age, career status, profession you may be in, your relationship status, political affiliation, etc.
Therefore, we should always be mindful of this and do our best to treat one another with respect as a human being even when we disagree on something.
Make no mistake about it, someone feeling like they’re being humiliated or that their dignity is being taken is the #1 root cause of issues escalating from words to fights, to brawls, and sometimes even to deaths.
Remember, it’s about the kids having social interaction, fun, and personal and athletic development.
Please share this post with every youth sports league organizer and tell them to share it with the parents of the athletes in their leagues.
If you have thoughts or strategies on how we can bring a stop to parents fighting at youth sporting events please share in the comments.
ABOUT JAMAR JOHNSON
Jamar Johnson is the CEO & Chief Commissioner of the Community Basketball Leagues, speaker, and author of the book Improving America One Basketball Game at a Time. Jamar’s passion is helping aspiring basketball players, coaches, and basketballpreneurs succeed using the CBL’s league platform. To contact Jamar email firstname.lastname@example.org.