How To Ruin Sports For Your Child

Despite a total lack of qualifications and many coordination related limitations I have coached Tee Ball, Little League, Soccer, Lacrosse and been part of tennis, swimming and water polo teams and as such have become somewhat of an expert on how to ruin sports for your child.  This primer should help the parents of the next Lebron, Jeter, Djocavich or Azavedo suffocate and kill their child's ambition before they show real potential then flame out and become lifetime disappointments to their families.  



Your child is, well he is a child.  He doesn't know that the way he swings his bat is the same way Dustin Pedroia swung his bat in tee ball.  You do - obviously.   He doesn't know that mastering the bend on a corner kick is going to make him better than Beckham.  You do - obviously.  (By obviously I mean based on your unrelenting expert commentary I overhear during halftime when we hand out the orange slices and you drag your kid away from the coaches huddle to give him more personalized feedback.)

You are the adult here.  You know the rules of the game, you know the strengths of your child and most important you know talent when you see it.  If you leave it up to your child to 'play' games out there instead of working on mastering his craft, you are failing to meet your responsibilities as a parent.  Worse yet, if you leave it up to a stranger -  that flamed out during D3 college ball and that has his own kid on the team -  to spot and properly develop the genetically gifted - despite parentage -  ball playing freak of a child you created, well then you have failed as a parent.  



Some kids have to settle for their parent just being there. Truth be told, my poor children have suffered the indignity of my not being there to scream wildly just because I found the NFL Championship Weekend more compelling than the matchup between the Red Hawks & the Green Goblins.  (Don't worry, we are responsible parents and have college funds for two of the three kids, a wedding fund for the girl and psychotherapy funds for all three.)

If you have embraced Rule #1 then Rule #2 is obvious.  If you aren't yelling - you aren't coaching - you aren't caring.  The fact is the coach has 8-15 kids to monitor he can't possibly see the angle, the advantage, your child had when you yelled 'SHOOOOOOOT!!!!'  Yes, the goalie stopped it and the ball was booted out of their end but what good would have come from a crossing pass to that slow fat kid despite how open he was in front of the net.  Most important - your child heard you screaming.  As he turned to catch up with the counter attack, he dropped his head - not in shame - rather embarrassment at his riches in love.  Nobody else's mom loved them enough to risk such a lavish public display of affection.  He is so lucky.


Rule Number 3: THROW YOUR HAT

Sounds like a weird rule but follow along and you will see the importance.  When Reggie Jackson breaks a bat over his knee we can see his passion for the game.  When a player smashes his racket at the Australian Open, breaks his club at the Masters, throws his helmet at the Super Bowl, stomps an opponents hand just because - we see the fire that burns inside.  The passion may come naturally but demonstrating it in this way must be learned and encouraged.  Coaches don't have time to teach this stuff so this is where you can truly be an asset to your athlete.  The next time he loses the ball and there is no foul called - throw your hat down on the ground.  The next time he steals the ball and they do call the foul against him - throw your hat and yell something mildly offensive about the official's lack of eyesight.  When your child gets a red card for pulling the opponent's braids so hard she falls to the ground - throw your hat on the ground, throw your shoe, defame, vilify and curse the ref.  SHOW YOUR PASSION....for the game of course. 



The kid is a freak - the next Lincecum - but the kid can't see it because he's just a kid and he isn't sure who Lincecum is, 'is he in Mrs Felenger's class because she is nice.'  Forget Lincecum and lets get back on point - your kid is not stepping up, not seizing the opportunity, not embracing his gifts.  It is probably his coaches fault and the only way to overcome this is for you to step up and coach.  It is a big commitment but as we have seen with your hat throwing - you have the passion, the fire burns within.  Share the fire with these 7 year olds, ignite their passion.  

Every kid wants their dad to coach because they know the will get to pitch and will be selected to the All Star team.  (If they don't know it at 7 they will by 9.)  So, once again you are showing your love and all that love can overwhelm a kid.  Sometimes they don't know how to react and will act out by pitching a bad game, striking out, not sliding cleats up into second to prevent the dp.  That is why you are here boss: dress him down, in front of his friends and see to it the fear of being humiliated fuels his play in the future.  Tapping into that anger will ignite his passion.  He will thank you for that.  Someday.  Probably. 



This might be the single most important rule for ruining a childs sports experience.   The problem is - as we have established - the child cannot properly assess his own formidable talent and he likes Charlie's dad, Mr Swanson, because he lets them have relay races after practice.  He doesn't see the problem: he is a star, he should be starting pitcher or batting clean up, his coach is an idiot.   If you don't teach him to spot this stuff - who will.

You will have the greatest impact if you address these issues right away.  As soon as practice is over - before they clean up and run relay races - take your child away from the team, isolate him in your car, look him in the eye and tell him 'you are better than that!'  Use the Socratic method if possible.  Ask him, 'Why are you batting 8th?' but do not wait for him to reply because he is a child instead you say, 'Ill tell you why...CHARLIE'S DAD IS AN IDIOT!'  BOOM goes the dynamite.  The look in your child's eyes is not shock at your saying something so egregious - it is the look of recognition.  He is thinking how could I be so stupid, of course he is an idiot, my dad would know.  His acceptance of Mr Swanson being an idiot is crucial to your ruining sports so don't let up.  This process must be repeated after every practice, game or team party until he gets in the car and unprovoked announces, 'Mr Swanson is a meanie.  He wouldn't let me pitch and it was my turn.'

Now that your child understands the coach is an idiot all the pieces will come together.  Obviously, you have been by his side his entire 3-5 year career.  You have yelled while others cheered.  You have coached when other watched.  You showed passion while others were emotionally constipated.  You dared to pull back the curtain and expose Mr Swanson as an idiot and now it all comes together. 

The season started with him batting 8th and he's moved up to 6th but now he realizes that isn't good enough.  Batting 6th sucks.  Why is little Albert batting 4th when I'm better than he is - MY DAD SAID SO!  When Albert struck out I told the coach I was better and he didn't put me in.  He really is an idiot. This whole team are idiots.  This game sucks.  I QUIT! 

There it is.  You did it.  You brought your child from loving a game to hating a sport -and several people - in just a few short seasons.  He has given up and now there is no risk of him getting cut from the high school team because he won't be trying out.  He will never have to settle for D2 or a short stint in the minor leagues - he is free of expectations and accomplishments and self esteem.  Most importantly, he will never be a lifetime disappointment to his family because they will always have Mr Swanson to blame. 

You're welcome America.