Someone sent me a clip recently of a trailer for the movie “Bad Parents”, found on the Active for Life Magazine website. The movie tell the stories of a group of soccer parents, and well, you can imagine the storylines that ensue.
As funny as the movie appears to be, it may also provide some insight into the filmmaker’s experience as a sports parent - or at least someone who has observed the often impossible-to-defend behavior of parents on the sidelines and in the stands.
The parent attitudes reflected in the story are, not surprisingly, rather poor.
If most of us are honest, we have all (well, most of us) said or done things at a youth sporting event that, upon reflection, we acknowledge we should have handled differently. The emotion of the moment, especially when one’s own children are involved, often seems to turn otherwise thoughtful individuals into something, well, less than that.
Adults yell at referees (in fact, we just came across a story whereby a youth hockey coach was suspended for ten years for punching a 16 year-old hockey player), they scream at the kids on the field, usually creating much more anxiety than positive emotional support as a result of screaming things like, “get rid of the ball…get it out…GET IT OUT….”. And those kind of shrieks are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to negative parent behavior—behavior that can drive their own children completely away from youth sports.
Sadly, youngsters may be embarrassed by their parents’ actions or worse, may copy and adopt the troubling adult behavior themselves.
It just leads to a carousel of negativity, hurt feelings and the result can be that youth sports, instead of being an enriching and healthy experience, becomes toxic and draining for all concerned.
A quick look at the movie trailer may be a timely reminder for all of us to set a much better example.