Wednesday , 18 October 2017

Mike Albanese: Do’s and Don’ts for Sports Parents

Football season is among us, and isn’t it amazing that it’s back?

mike albanese column mugWhat’s not to love? The excitement, the great plays, the atmosphere.

Oh wait, there’s one thing that can be very obnoxious – those parents.

Don’t get me wrong, supportive parents are the greatest asset to a young adult’s life. They provide stability, strength, encouragement and on more than one occasion a few extra dollars to go hang out with your friends.

And parents, if your child hasn’t asked for money yet, wait till they get to college. By the way, thanks mom and dad for your, well, generous donation to The University of Alabama and me.

You are not the parents I’m speaking of. The parents I’m speaking of are the ones that are vicariously living through their child. Pushing them to the brink and in the process, annoying the 50 people sitting around them.

I’ve compiled a short list of things not to do during this football season. And if you’re thinking, “Hmm, could I be this parent?” I suggest you take out a pen and paper.

 

  1. Let the coaches coach, and the refs ref.

 

For some parents this is a very perplexing proposition.

“What? Sit there? And not say a thing?” you ask.

Yes, please.

opinionThere is a reason that a coach is on the field or behind the bench. He or she has passed numerous rounds of testing and evaluations to prove to the district and the league they are qualified to coach at a certain level. In many cases, that coach played at a level that some people may only dream of playing.

It is only human nature to want to second guess a decision when a certain play goes awry, and just for example’s sake, watch ESPN’s SportsCenter on Monday mornings during football season. I’m sure they dedicate a 30-minute segment on it.

Truth be told, not every coach will make the perfect call each play, but it doesn’t make it right to jump up and down like a crazy person when on 3rd and 9 the coach decides to run the ball instead of pass.

The same can be said for referees.

I played sports for most of my life. Beginning when I was four with tee-ball, and moving through the high school and college ranks in hockey, some of the most distasteful comments I’ve heard have been aimed at refs.

In football there are seven officials on the field at one time, and it’s hard to imagine that all of them can miss a holding call or a facemask.

But guess what, they do.

So next time when the corner has a handful of the receiver’s jersey, and the ref doesn’t throw a flag, please don’t have an aneurism.

 

2. Leave the violence on the field.

 

Far too many times I’ve witnessed parents take the game so seriously that it results in a brawl in the stands. One of the most memorable moments was when I was in high school playing a hockey tournament in Tulsa, Okla.

Needless to say, it wasn’t the starting goalies’s day, and the back-up goalie’s mom decided it was her job to let his mom know how badly he was playing.

Well, I think you guys know what happened next. One mom laid the smackdown on the other mom and it was an ole’ fashioned battle royal. All that was missing was “Mean Gene” Okerlund and Bobby “The Brain” Heenan.

Sadly, these fights can lead to serious injuries, such as what happened in Castle Rock, Colo., July 2011, when three parents – including the town’s prosecutor – were charged with third degree assault after a brawl at a youth basketball tournament landed one player in the hospital.

The fight involved at least six adults during a game for 12-year-olds.

Ridiculous.

If you ever think for a moment that your son’s football game is so intense that you want to cave in someone’s face, step back for moment and realize, you’re at a high school football game. It’s not worth it.

Plus, think about the embarrassment it causes your child, knowing he is the son of a parent that has no self-control.

 

3. Don’t be an “agent parent.”

 

Too many times do parents take it upon themselves to play the role of both parent, and super-agent Scott Boras.

Being supportive and encouraging is one thing, but taking it past that point where you a turning your child into more of a show than a football player is taking it too far.

In most cases these are 16 to 18-year old kids. They have enough going through their mind to have to worry about who their dad is going to try and show them off to and what camp they are being forced to go to.

Let your child do what they want to do – play football.

 

4. Come prepared for games.

 

I know we live in Texas and the winters a pretty mild, but that doesn’t mean winter won’t rear its ugly face one night and temperatures will drop below freezing.

And when you look at the temperature outside before you go to that game, and you find yourself wearing shorts, or — girls — heels and a skirt, it may be time to re-evaluate your wardrobe.

It was customary at my alma mater for girls, mostly those who were involved in the Greek society, to wear skirts and semi-formal clothing to football games.

Not only did these girls look incredibly uncomfortable, they were also freezing to death the few times it dipped below freezing.

Dress appropriately. You are at a football game, not a fashion show.

 

5. Know that your child is probably not the best player on the field.

 

Now parents, this is the one most of you are dreading.

No, your son is not the best player on the field. Not by a long shot. No way, no how.

Parents, however, believe their son is the second-coming of Walter Payton and put him a pedestal he will never reach.

Please, for the love of god, stop.

At the high school level, most football players, and athletes in general, are quite talented and capable of making plays and playing at a high level.

And of course, there are some students that will be better at football than some.

Does it make it alright to start carving their Hall of Fame bust at the age of 16? No.

Parents, if your child happens to be the best player on the field – cheer respectively. There is no problem knowing your son or daughter is exceptional at their sport, but don’t make it known to the whole world you raised a child prodigy.

Talking from experience, there is nothing more annoying than parents acting as their child’s own cheerleading section.

 

Bring on The Games

Putting a bow on this reflective piece, football season in Texas is without a doubt on the most exciting sports scenes in the country.

Everything from the tradition, the pageantry and most of all the talent, makes it superior to most high school sports scenes in the country.

So, please, mom and dad, cheer respectively and responsibly. At the end of the game, when you meet up with your son at the car and you can’t think of anything nice to say, just take a deep breath and say, “I love watching you play.”

TSB Sports Writer Mike Albanese’s column appears weekly. Watch for his game stories, previews and features throughout the week.

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