There are normal parents, there are crazy parents, and then there are sports parents. It doesn’t matter the sport, you can fit these nutters in somewhere. God love us all. Someone needs to.
- I Live Vicariously Through My Child: Oh, we all know this charmer. The one who didn’t feel fulfilled enough in their own youth, so they now live it out through their blessed spawn. To some degree, and at a minimum, these parents embody at least three of the other types below. They make me think thoughts of homicide.
- My Child is Going Pro: My kids go to a sports academy, and yes, they are getting a education, to boot, in case you were wondering. They were talented enough to get in the front door, but what they do from here is completely up to them. I have zero delusions about their chances of going Pro or making it to the Olympic level. Therefore, I fully appreciate the parent who sends their child into this situation knowing there is a reality that only that super-elite, hyper-talented, bust -their-balls to the n-th degree kid will make it to that level. Because there are waaaayyyy too many parents who just assume that since their child made the all-star team at age 12, the Pros are the next step. Here’s the thing people, puberty changes everything. Everything. Your Gumby-like child who can bend their spine into a circle loses that flexibility and nimble grace with age… it happens to the best of us. What was great at 12 years old might just become OK by age 18. And truth be told, not too many kids want to give up all their free time to do what it takes to move on to the next level, and ya’ know what? That’s OK, too. At least for the kid. The parent is a whole other story.
- My Child Can Do It Better Than Your Child: Maybe, but I’m sure I’ll be able to recognize this myself; I’m not delusional, blind, or a friggin’ idiot. But you must be so proud of your superstar child since you brag openly about them and their skills all. the. fucking. time. And thank you for being such an ass, on top of it all. ‘Cause every parent wants to know how incredible someone else’s child is.
- The School/Coach is Wrong, My Child is Right: This is perhaps the most vile of parents because it combines #10 with the fact that this parent has raised said child to believe he/she can do no wrong. So when said child screws up royally, then guess who’s going down? The coach, maybe even the school; I’ve even seen a parent threaten a lawsuit on a school and the coach when the school tried to hold the child accountable for some pretty vile actions. I’ve seen this parent more times than I care to admit (both in personal and professional life), and it’s even more vile in a private school arena where major money can be involved. You think the candidates in the current election are cra-cra? Try athletic academy parents.
- No Behavior My Child Exhibits is Wrong: Dear Lord, everyone’s kid is a shit at one time or another; please hold your child to a higher standard of behavior. This does not mean you rip into the child in front of everyone, because this is a whole other breed of psycho parenting – see #11 – but throwing equipment is not OK, and you should make sure you kid knows this.
- The Hugger: I perhaps love this parent most. Why? They know that they know absolutely nothing about said sport, and can only provide a hug when it’s over. I learned from this mom, and am always waiting with a Gatorade and Swedish Fish at the finish line. She gives every kid a hug; I provide the hydration and snack for my own. It’s better this way, honestly.
- The Screamer: You know the one who stands on the sidelines and makes you wish you were sitting on the opposite side of the field? Or dead at that moment. The one who constantly is yelling at their kid so the kid can’t focus on the game – or you can’t focus on the game because you’re contemplating smacking this parent for being such a turd. How about the parent who yells about every call the referee/umpire makes – see #8. This is why I sit alone in a far, far corner of the sporting universe.
- The Heckler: You gotta love that parent who has something to say to the referee/umpire on pretty much every call. Sure, some calls are bogus, but hell, we see that in the Majors. Let that poor umpire/ref who’s getting a whopping $50 for the whole game do his/her job. I’ve been at a game where it’s been so bad the umpire has told the coaches to get the parents under control. And then there was the priceless time where the coach left the dugout, walked straight up to a mother and publicly said, “Shut your mouth, or I will personally throw you over my shoulder and carry you to your car.” Priceless. And well deserved.
- The Over-Involved Parent: OK, I’m not saying you drop your kid off and leave, but sit down and shut up. I’ve seen parents at the start of races coaching their child and other kids. Oh, wait, hey buddy, YOU’RE NOT THE FRICKIN’ COACH. So, back the fuck off and go be a parent. I can see your child wanting to vomit because you’re nearby. I’ve seen other parents sneak under fencing on courses and pretend they are a coach just so they can shout at their kid that much closer when the kid comes by. Someone please explain why to me. And then there is the parent who knows everything and deliberately goes behind the coach’s back to create a training & game plan for their child because – even though this parent looks like an oversized opossum, and never did this sport in his life – he knows better than the coach and the sports academy his daughter attends. Good luck with that, Pops.
- I Know More than the Coach: Oh, you played in high school, did you? Better yet, you read the book on how to coach _____ sport. Congratulations. You’re so right, that does make you a better than the coach, that’s why you don’t have the job. I’ve actually known one instance where the parent truly had competed at the Olympic level, and perhaps knew more about the sport than the current coach; however, as with any sport, things change over time (since the early 80s), so shut up and let the current coach do the job. Mmmm-K, pumpkin?
- The ‘I Will Slit Your Throat’ Parent: These words have been uttered in my presence before. This child is still alive, so I believe this commentary to be an idle threat, but said child does quiver in the presence of his mom. However, this type of parent will literally rip their child a new asshole, and if you’re in the presence of this, your skin crawls. I’ve seen a parent rip his daughter a new crack after she won a race. Yeah. She won. She didn’t get a hug and CONGRATS! She got yelled at. I’ve seen a kid flip the middle finger at her father after he told her everything she’d done wrong, and she was in the top 5. This child is currently injured and seems to be intentionally sabotaging her recovery so she doesn’t have to deal with her parents this season. There you go Mom and Dad, congratulations on keeping Sports Psychologists in business. So all you psycho nutbag parents… think. Think real hard here.
How should it be? I dunno, but I’ll offer up an anecdote: We have a friend whose son plays with my son on the town baseball team, and they were playing in a heated rivalry game this past summer; our friend’s son was hit in the hand with a fast ball, and he dropped to the ground writhing, and screamed “God damned fuckin’ cocksucker!” The father just sat there, and as the umpire stepped forward to say something, the catcher from the other team put up his hand to the umpire, saying, “Let it go, he has Turrets.” The umpire looked at the coaches on our team who simply shrugged their shoulders, and shook their heads in agreement. The coaches on the other team didn’t flinch. Then he wasn’t given first base. Both sides simply shook their heads on the call – our head coach approached the umpire respectfully to counter the call, but nothing changed. There were a few rumblings on our side, and the game went on.
I had Swedish Fish and Gatorade waiting for my son.