While his is my story, there will likely be bits and pieces that will resonate with you.
Parents love to watch their kids play, in any sport or extracurricular activity. They love to see their interactions, their engagement and hopefully their growth not just as a player on the field/court but also their growth as children into adolescence and young adulthood. Sports are a PERFECT conduit for this growth. But like any conduit, there can be blockages along the way.
This post is about parents and how they can either assist in their child’s growth through youth sports or as I’ve seen too often, impede their progress.
I have story after story after story, both good and bad, that illustrates this journey. Rather than describe these experiences (which I may do in an upcoming book), I’d like to share with you my experience as an up and coming basketball player in my adolescent years into my teen years and then into college.
Long story short: my father never saw me play an organized game of basketball until I was 17, and already an all state player.
When I relate this fact to people I know and who are part of the Basics family, I often get the shrugged shoulders and look of condolence, followed by “Really Coach? I am so sorry.”
The fact of the matter is this lack of attention had exactly the OPPOSITE effect on me as a player. It gave me the game ALL TO MYSELF, my growth, my successes, my failures, every little nuance as I improved was mine, driven by no one but me. It was exhilarating.
It was also accidental. My parents did not attend the games out of disinterest or lack of involvement. Here’s why they did not attend!
They were beyond busy, they barely made it to the door each morning. 9 siblings, no buses to the Catholic schools, a 1 hour commute both ways for my father’s dental practice into NYC, sun up to sun down activity and achievement. They had no time to devote to any child’s extracurricular activity when the larger responsibility was to shepherd this flock safely to their college years.
SUMMARY: enjoy your involvement watching your kids grow, mature, play, compete BUT do NOT become overly involved and goodness gracious Saints alive (homage to John Wooden, who would use that phrase instead of swearing like a sailor!), do not judge them, do not cajole them, do not label them based on any performance or outcome. Consider occasionally NOT ATTENDING a game or a tournament. Let them describe for you AFTERWARDS what happened, how they played, what they need as they grow as children, adolescents and into young adulthood.
The most selfless thing you may do is to SKIP their games, at least once in a while. Let them own their growth and performance, their wins and losses. And always, always, ALWAYS remember the best thing you can say to your child after a competitive event is