Two weeks ago my eight year old started his third season of football. He has moved up from Taxi to the big league of Pee Wee! Once again, I am amazed at the demands parents continue to place on their kids to be the superstar. Parents, can we all just sit back and RELAX and enjoy the game? Please!!
Within weeks of practices and one scrimmage, I’ve listened to parents, mostly dads, screaming at their son from the sideline. I wanted to stuff a sock in this one guy’s mouth. He disrespected his son as he screamed from the side lines, “You’re lazy!” How about this, “Hey dad, can you stop being a jerk! Stop the name calling and stop humiliating your son!
That’s what I wanted to say, but didn’t because I wanted to avoid a nasty confrontation. He slandered and ridiculed his son and rightfully deserves the same treatment. During sprints at the end of one practice, another dad was screaming to his son, “Move it! You can beat every kid running out here!”
Are you serious dad? Bulging and pulsating veins popping from their necks; sky rocketing blood pressures, humiliating and embarrassing their kids… and for what? Bragging rights! Give me a break. In the scheme of things, a young athlete’s performance at age 8, 10, 12, or older isn’t an indicator of a child’s success factor in life.
My husband’s nephew is starting his junior year in high school and he is the starting quarter back for the high school’s varsity football team. He recently told my husband,
“All I want to do is go out on the football field and have fun. I know that I’m going to be nervous but I am going on the field like I’m on the play ground.”
And that’s pretty much how most players feel. It’s the adults who sometimes take the fun out of the game.
Some of your top athletes don’t peak until high school or well after. Some didn’t even play their chosen sport until college and turned out to be very successful.
I’ve also seen kids who, at the high school level, burn out or even worse, suffer from injuries and have scars from surgeries typically experienced by older adults– and these kids are still in their teens. Some kids experience burn out and decide not to play in college leaving their parents stunned.
When I watch my son play football, I have a ball! While he’s in the game, I enjoy every moment and laugh a lot. So what he misses a tackle, he’s having fun and is doing his best. When he breaks for water, he gets nothing but praise, encouragement and high fives. When he’s on the side line, I’m busy cheering on the other young players and encourage him to do the same.
Quite frankly, I don’t want my son trying to be the star at the tender age of 8; that’s ridiculous! I want him to sleep at night pressure free. I don’t want him to worry about remembering plays or worry about maintaining his starting position or worrying about playing a specific position. I just want him to hit the field running, playing hard, earnestly learning, doing his best and having a blast.
Down the road, if my son decides to give up football and take part in another sport, I will support him. After all, it’s his dream not mine.
Most importantly, I’m excited about character development and lessons that my son can gain from being a part of a team. He can learn how to win and how to lose. Discipline, respect for authority, for others, and self-respect. Self-control, strategic thinking, perseverance, and problem solving, all of which we strive to teach at home, but can also be reinforced and learned as a team member.
My message to parents is to sit back, have fun and enjoy these precious moments with your kids. They don’t last forever and can never be recaptured.