There is a crazy parent waiting to leap out of us and a youth sport is typically the impetus. I watch my children in their various sporting activities and coach a youth travel baseball team. Youth sports teach children if they dedicate themselves and work hard they will see results. This is a valuable lesson they can take with them in any endeavor in life.
Then parental dreams get in the way. Most parents live surreptitiously through their children and this leads to the most ridiculous behavior this side of Reality TV. If you doubt it just watch “State of Play: Trophy Kids” on HBO. Granted, it is a Reality TV series edited for maximum exposure of stupid behavior but shows the depths that parents descend in the hopes of a scholarship.
News flash: The odds are terribly against junior making the pros or earning a scholarship to a Division I school. By the way, if you know you are pre-disposed to being a nut job when watching your child participate in a sport why subject yourself to such exposure and agree to be on TV? The desire for 15 minutes of fame is proof these parents are in it for themselves and their child is secondary.
This insatiable lust to grab the brass ring is poison to priorities. We should never stop chasing dreams but reality needs to check in at one point. A child hitting a baseball through the infield in T-Ball is not indicative he will be the next A-Rod. However, parents are not the only ones to blame in this tragedy play.
Youth sports organization cater to dreams regardless of how absurd it may seem. They build up their events like mini Olympics and play the part of Devil on the shoulder. These organizations are constantly whispering in our ears about “what-ifs” and force parents to choose between their sporting events and other life events.
For example, USA Gymnastics routinely starts meets on Friday. Parents must decide whether to have their child attend the meet or school that day. In the grand scheme of life what is more important: education or a meet? What is the harm in missing school for one day? I can make a case for either argument. More importantly, what are we teaching our children if we choose to go to a sporting event over school?
And then we have the lunatic coaches who are frustrated athletes trying to recapture a memory that is really a fantasy. We have all seen the over-the-top recreation league coach who fancies himself the alpha X and O. High school coaches harbor delusions of grandeur of being discovered as a coach despite the fact they were never discovered as players. Meanwhile the children “suffer the outrageous fortune of slings and arrows” unaware they are destined to have the same fate.
As a society, we need to get a grip of reality and priorities. Fantasies do become realities but not for everyone. We need to enjoy youth sports for what it is for the children and not what we want it to be for ourselves.