May 27, 2008
Don’t be labeled ‘that parent’ in youth sports by Randy Capps
Don’t be labeled ‘that parent’ in youth sports
By Randy Capps- Community sports editor
There’s always one. No matter where you are, whether it’s a Dixie Youth Baseball game, a soccer match or a basketball game, there’s always somebody — usually a parent — who takes things a little too far. With the recent incident in Wilson involving a parent running out on to a soccer field to break up a fight during a match between Gray’s Creek and Hunt high schools, parental behavior at youth sporting events has been a hot topic recently. Yelling at umpires, bumping into other people’s children or screaming at your own child are things that parents should avoid when it comes to youth sports.
THE VOCAL PARENT
“Come on, blue. That was a terrible call. You ought to be ashamed of yourself.” That verbal volley comes flying from the bleachers during baseball games on a regular basis. The irony is that the subject of the scorn isn’t paying the slightest bit of attention.
“If I’m doing two games a day, I’ll usually hear seven or eight complaints,” Timothy Locklear, a second-year umpire, said last week before a game at Eastover. “We’re trained to ignore it and stay focused (so we can) pay attention to the game.”
Since they’re not listening, they really don’t mind the calls from the crowd. “You’ve got to have the fans into it,” he said. “I’m not really paying attention to it. That’s on the outside. I’m worried about the coach and the kids. As long as we’re not getting much from them, we’ll continue playing.” Umpires may not be listening, but the kids are.
THE PUSHY PARENT
Walk up the steps and out onto the football field at Pine Forest Middle School, and you might run into Richard Barefoot Jr.
Last week, he was sitting on an upside-down bucket, catching for his daughter, Paige, as she warmed up for the Wildcats’ Dixie Ponytail (11-12) softball game. He passed along some tips to his daughter as he retrieved a stray ball as she nodded in understanding. It’s easier and more fun, he says, to coach kids who actually want to be there. “In the past, there have been one or two times that, during a game, you’ll have a kid lash back at a parent for the pressure they’re putting on them. ‘You made me sign up. I didn’t want to play this,’” Barefoot said. “Whether it be softball, soccer or whatever, I’d like every child to be involved in some type of sport. “But see what the child wants to be involved in. Not just because mom or dad played baseball, you need to play softball or whatever.” Paige assumed her stance and fired another pitch toward her father on the bucket. “My daughter loves playing (softball),” he said. “She’s tried playing soccer in the past. I hope she decides to keep playing, but if she decided to stop, I’d deal with it and move on and hope she’d pick up an interest in something else.” Naturally, barefoot continued, kids are much more likely to be successful if they’re enjoying what they’re doing. “The kid is going to have more interest in doing better on the field and have a better attitude toward playing (if they want to be playing),” he said. “When you ask them to do something, they’ll run to first base instead of walking. Let the child have the choice. Because if they don’t want to be there, it’s probably not going to work out.”
THE MISSING PARENT
With games and practices dotting the schedule, it’s inevitable that things will come up that will cause mom or dad to miss a game.
It happens, but keeping that to a minimum is important to keeping a player’s spirits up. Mark Mitchell, coach of the 11- and 12-year-old Heat indoor soccer team in Hope Mills, is a big believer in parent involvement. After a 6-2 victory over the Fire last weekend, Mitchell held court outside the Hope Mills Recreation Department, surrounded by players and parents passing out snacks and drinks. “We’re having a pretty good time,” he said. “All of the parents have been coming to practices and stuff and really supporting the team. We get along and we’re all having fun.” Of course, good times are much easier to have when you can share them with family. “I’ve seen kids come out there when their moms and dads can’t come to games and they say that ‘I wish my dad would have seen me hit that home run or I wish my mom would have seen me score that point.’ So yeah, it’s important (that parents try to be there).”
THE ANGRY PARENT
It’s often overlooked, but parents and coaches serve as role models for young athletes — whether they like it or not.
Donna Johnson, public relations director for the West Fayetteville Recreation Association, stresses that to the parents and coaches she deals with.
“If you have a problem don’t do it in front of kids,” she said. “People forget that kids remember a lot. “If adults will just act like adults, things will be a lot better. Every move we make is scrutinized by little eyes and ears.”
Check back next week for more great reading from Koach Karl….