There’s no need to argue, parents just don’t understand some dynamics of youth sports

If you read that title in a normal tone, that’s perfectly fine.

If you sang that title because you know those are lyrics from a DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince song “Parents Just Don’t Understand”, released in 1988, well you are definitely hip and cool in my book and we should get together for a cold beverage sometime and reminisce about the good old days. You know, the days before social media, iPads, cell phones, stress and most annoyingly, participation trophies.

Now don’t get me wrong, I believe in rewarding our youth for a job well done on the field, on the court or even in the classroom. But why do we feel the need to give absolutely everyone a trophy or certificate whether they came in first or last?

It’s ok for kids to not get rewarded for not finishing on top. Defeat is a part of everyday life, not just in sports. It should be what drives us to want to better ourselves for future performances. If kids are getting rewarded for just showing up, where is the motivation?

My daughter cheers. She’s 8. Last year we drove four hours to watch her perform a two-and-a-half-minute routine. They competed against one other team. They lost. They got trophies and were congratulated for coming in second. All the other girls on the team were ecstatic. My daughter balled her eyes out. She was the only kid who understood that not only did they not win, they technically came in last.

As we drove back home her mother and I explained to her that there are teams out there better than hers and there are teams out there that are worse than hers. We told her to keep doing her best and practice hard and good things will come her way. She understood and a couple months later her team took on 12 other teams at Nationals and they placed FIRST!!!! We were very proud of her and she said to us instantly “Mom and Dad, all that practice paid off…look at this huge trophy!!!” Practice and perseverance paid off.

Lastly, I will end with this thought speaking on the topic of kids and sports. Let the coaches coach. I have been volunteering the last few years as a basketball coach and a soccer coach for my son’s teams. We don’t get paid. We practice a couple times a week and play almost every week and usually some sort of travel is involved. It’s a commitment.

Coaching is not for everyone. What we don’t want to hear though is constant complaining and forced opinions from what I call “sideline coaches”. Those are the parents who have it all figured out better than you do and feel the need to share their expertise at every practice and game.

Stop. Let the coaches coach. From Mike Towle to Bobby Knight and everyone in between, coaches aren’t perfect. They only have one set of eyes and can only see and do so much given the circumstances. Coaches learn just like players do, with practice and repetition.

It might be frustrating sitting in the bleachers when things aren’t going the way you want them to for your child. We get it. Trust me, it’s a lot more frustrating for us, more than you realize.

Have patience, take a deep breath, put on a smile and let the coaches and players do their thing. Win or lose, at the end of the day we all want to have fun doing what we do and maybe even learn a thing or two. You just might not get a trophy for it.

By: Mike Towle
Sports Chowdah Blogger, Local business owner and coach.

Jeff Solari

About Jeff Solari

Jeff Solari is the president and founder of the Sports Chowdah, Maine’s only free, weekly sports e mail newsletter. Recently, the Mount Desert Island native was the co-host of "The Drive" on 92.9 FM in Bangor.