Fair Warning: Spectator Parents


My husband and I have been youth volunteer sport coaches since before our own kids were born. I love basketball. He loves soccer. We both dig kiddos. As much satisfaction that comes from teaching a kid the benefits of an active lifestyle, the fun of playing games with other kids your age, and gaining a few specific skills along the way there’s always a bit of headache associated with it. It’s not with kids crying (btw there is no crying in basketball or soccer) or needing to go the bathroom at the most inopportune times. It’s the parents.

Every week I hear parents mouthing on the sidelines. Either at the coaches or at their kids or at somebody else’s kids. It’s important to note that my husband and I coach in rec leagues. I coach for Upward, a Christian league designed to share the gospel through basketball. Not the other way around.

Everybody seems to feel shortchanged on the sidelines. They missed on something as a kid. They need to relive through their kid. They can’t be asked to volunteer their time but they sure do have a lot of coaching advice as a spectator.

The whole environment can sometimes feel toxic and you really want to hold those parents at arm’s length. We’ve heard every story of kid’s anxiety having never played soccer as a 5 yr old. To parents who complain that their kids ball was kicked away from them, at a soccer practice. We hear complaints of not good enough snacks from the parents or complaining that the kids don’t have snack…We hear complaints against volunteer refs. We hear complaints against high fiving too hard. We hear parents yammering their kids into the ground.

And yet we sign up again and again year after year and smile and nod and listen the absurdities. But we have to ask what is missing in people’s lives that they take youth recreational sports so darn serious?

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