If you’ve been to a youth sporting event then you have likely witnessed the behavior of the ‘A**hole Sportsantiy Parent‘ (let’s call them an ASP). They are the parent standing in the bleachers or too close to the court yelling tactical and technical instructions to their child-athlete. They are all too often loud and aggressive with their voice, they over-dramatize their body language in order to communicate the emotions they are having about the game, the coaching, the official’s ruling or their particular child’s performance. They are likely a former athlete themselves who have long passed their glory years, but make their child’s sport about them and often think they know best.
ASP’s are embarrassing, annoying, frustrating, disrespectful, inappropriate and downright abusive.
That’s right, I said abusive, because it is! As a former Division I athlete I understand just how emotional a sporting event can be for everyone involved. As an athlete:
- you poor your heart and soul into practice,
- you commit a huge amount of time and energy,
- you get up early and stay up late thinking about how to improve,
- you manage the pressures of the sport and the pressures of school as well,
- you sacrifice many social events, vacations and other special gatherings to improve your performance in order to have success; and hopefully WIN.
And when game time comes, as an athlete, if you’re having a ‘bad day’ it can be extremely emotional. Failing isn’t fun. Losing isn’t fun. It takes a strong level of mental discipline to overcome emotional obstacles in sports. Mental discipline is a skill learned over time and many failures.
Let’s not forget about parents, parents of these child-athletes also invest a lot of emotion into the sport. As a parent:
- you also poor your heart and soul into getting your youth to practices,
- you commit a huge amount of time and energy to watching practices and events,
- you practice WITH your youth,
- you listen to their hopes and dreams and scour the internet for potential opportunities,
- you encourage them, support them and spend more money than you would like on equipment, food, travel expenses and registration fees,
- you sacrifice weekends, a social life, family events, relationships with friends, vacation or sick days at work.
Parents, you do this because you love your child; and you want them to have success and WIN. It’s no surprise with this level of commitment by both the athlete and the parents that a sporting event can get so emotional. In my experience, no one likes to lose and everyone likes to win.
There we have it, sports can generate extreme emotion from athletes and spectators alike, but that DOES NOT make the inappropriate expression of those emotions ‘part of the game’. It’s SO true that many people in youth sports use the excuse ‘it’s part of the game‘ to be an ‘A**hole Sportsanity Parent‘ (ASP).
Verbal and emotional abuse is verbal and emotional abuse, no matter HOW you swing it.
Signs you might be an ASP:
- you are an adult at a youth sporting event aggressively yelling tactical and technical instructions to your child during their game and you are not the coach, YOU have a problem.
- you are standing behind the athletes bench or dugout listening too closely to the coach during time-outs, YOU have a problem.
- you are over-dramatically expressing your exasperation, disappointment, frustration or anger about the sporting event, YOU have a problem.
- you’ve EVER uttered ‘it’s part of the game‘ to justify your inappropriate and abusive behavior, YOU have a problem.
- you are disagreeing with what the coach is instructing the players to do and you are attempting to ‘coach’ your child to do the opposite, YOU have a problem.
- you are verbally instructing your child to ‘take the ball’ from another teammate and ‘get the job done yourself’, YOU have a problem.
- you are aggressively and inappropriately yelling at the official (who is likely also a child), YOU have a problem.
- you are lecturing, criticizing and ‘coaching’ your child-athlete about their performance on the drive home, YOU have a problem.
- you find yourself sitting alone during sporting events because no one wants to sit with you, YOU have a problem.
- you get defensive and angry if anyone tries to calmly talk to you about being less verbal at the event, YOU have a problem.
I could go on and on with more behaviors that indicate ASP’s have a problem but by now, hopefully you are getting my point…don’t be an ASP.
The AWESOME thing about having a problem is, you have an opportunity to solve it!! If you are personally resonating with this list in ANY way (it’s okay I won’t tell anyone) then YOU have a problem. YOU also have an opportunity to solve your problem. Consider talking to someone about how you can get your sh*t together at sporting events. Talk to a supportive friend, colleague, coach, or a mental health professional.
It’s understandable how emotional sporting events can be, but it’s not okay to verbally and emotionally abuse the young athletes, coaches or officials.
Your emotions belong to YOU.
YOU are the only one who can control them.
They are YOUR responsibility.
Take CONTROL of your emotions.
Get some help if you need it.