There is a fine line between being a supportive parent who helps guide their child through their adolescent athletic endeavors and the parent who is completely delusional. Sadly, I am seeing more of the latter these days.
Don’t get me wrong, those parents who cheer and support their kids are my FAVORITE types of parents. From the time I was five years-old to when I was 18 and playing American Legion baseball, my mother missed a total of three games. THREE !!! I played baseball and basketball every year for 14 years, and she wouldn’t miss it for the world. These types of amazing role models are exactly what great parents should be, supporting, nurturing and enjoying the games with their children. Allowing their off-spring to have fun and play.
Then we have the delusional parents. You’ve seen them. You’ve heard them. They are the parents who are experts on all things athletically related. In a lot of cases they coach their own kids because “no one knows my kid’s swing like I do.” They believe that they hold the holy grail to athletic achievement for their child and if they guide them through their Little League, AAU and youth football years they will have the tools to be a big-time baseball, basketball, football, tennis, golf, player.
The problem is these parents live in their own LOCAL little world. There is an honest belief that if my kid is good here in Chico, they will dominate on the big stage. It’s a simple fallacy coming from a lack of perspective from a parent who, either hasn’t played, or has no clue that there are other talented players all over the state, country and world. In an odd conundrum they suffer from the Aaron Rodgers syndrome. They saw Chico’s favorite son go from talented, yet under-sized high school quarterback, to a blossoming college career at Butte and magnificent maturation into a star at Cal-Berkeley and with the Green Bay Packers. But, there is a problem with this thinking……
Your kid isn’t Aaron Rodgers.
Rodgers is a once in a lifetime anomaly. Not a fluke, an anomaly. This is not to dissuade kids from working and believing they can be a professional athlete. It certainly can come true. But, when the parents drive and belief is stronger than the child’s we see a lack of perspective that leads to cases of burn-out and despising the sport.
In my 25 years of living in Chico I certainly have run into more parents who have been supportive and understand the athletic outlet is for fun and joy. My experience has been dominated with great people who simply enjoy watching their kids play for its simple joy. But, there is the enticement of full-ride scholarships that has these other parents eyes’ bulging as a way for their kid to play for pay, with college costs sky-rocketing. These parents get caught up in the belief that their kids are competing for college recognition instead of the “love of the game.” I have seen it. I have heard it discussed. It’s parents trying to live through their kids, because in all honesty…..they weren’t good enough themselves.
I find more novices are over-bearing than those parents who actually competed at a high level in intercollegiate sports or on the professional level. It makes total sense to me. Novices have no life experience with which to draw so they feel since their child is playing in a championship game; THEY are playing in a championship game. Why is this ? Well, they never experienced it, so they vicariously live it through their sons or daughters. It’s ironic, those that sometimes are the most passionate are also those that have the least amount of knowledge.
As I’ve said the vast majority of parents are exactly what supportive parents should be, but it is becoming increasingly easy to spot the over-bearing novice hollering instructions to their kid. And, that, is sad.