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Why So Crazy? On Youth Sports Parents Behaving Badly

mother wonders are participation medals a good idea

(Flickr – barretthall)

Every teenager — ok, who am I kidding — everyone, no matter the age, finds their parents a little, shall I say, “out there” at times.

Do we still love them despite these moments of total kookiness? Without question.

What we may not realize as student-athletes is the rare breed of kookiness our parents and guardians actually are: the sport parent.

Yes; as soccer, softball, baseball, and football players, gymnasts, runners, swimmers, and every athlete in-between, more likely than not, you have a crazy sports parent living in your home.

Okay, now let’s get clear on something – when I say “crazy sports parent”, I don’t mean the Mom or Dad yelling with arms flailing up-and-down the sideline, although there seems to be a whole trove of youth sports parents behaving badly articles on various reddit boards and Buzzfeed lists of the Internet.

I don’t mean the Mom or Dad threatening the ref or calling the coach every night.

I mean the “crazy sports parent” that lies in every sports parent – the unassuming wacko every sport parent can take credit for, whether or not they ever realized it.

You may be saying to yourself, “My Mom’s not crazy!” – or “Wait…so I’m crazy for simply supporting my athlete in the sport of their choosing?”

My response is – yes, yes you are. How so? I love these 5 telltale signs Scary Mommy Amy Hunter has up on her blog, like how expensive sports (and sports injuries!) are, or how much time you spend helping your child get to and from practice and competitions. Or this hysterical bit:

The People

“The fastest way to expose someone’s inner lunatic is to criticize their kid. Even if the criticism is correct, even if the criticism is in the form of a judge or a paid official, some people just can’t handle the truth. I have witnessed, firsthand, grown men fighting with teenage referees; adults getting into fistfights on the sidelines where police involvement becomes necessary; even an entire group of parents heckling a 10-year-old goalie to the point of tears. I’m proud that these aren’t people I associate with, but they are out there. These parents are spoken of as the unicorn of sports parents, a mythical beast that only exists in the occasional viral video, but they are far more common than that. Being a sports parent means you drink the Kool-Aid, but those people are the ones who spike it with poison.”

But of course, it all becomes worth it.

When you see your child in their first huddle, it’s worth it.

When you see the life lessons they’re learning make them better siblings, friends and people, it’s worth it.

When you see the joy they get as they pursue that next PR, that next shot on goal, that next step toward playing in college, it’s worth it.

We get it. Most of us are crazy sports parents, too. We’d love to talk to you about helping your child play their sport in college.

About the author
Laura Chmiel

Laura Chmiel is a marketing coordinator and a lead writer for NCSA Athletic Recruiting. As someone with a passion for athletics and education, she graduated from Indiana university with a B.S. in Elementary Education. After school, she gained first-hand experience helping student-athletes and their families get to college.