If you’re asking yourself whether your enthusiasm for your children’s sports activities is motivating or monster-making, here’s a checklist for you.
You may be an overzealous sports parent if:
1. You can’t always instantly recall your child’s birthday, but you know her batting average.
2. The mere offer of ice cream can cheer your son after a loss, but after two scotches and a Xanax you’re still enraged at the ref’s last call.
3. When your new BMW is rear-ended, your first concern is for the “proud parent” and team bumper stickers you just plastered all over the tailgate.
4. You just realized that every penny you will save from your son’s sports scholarship has already been spent on private coaches.
5. You’re convinced that your daughter is being dragged down by all those losers on her swim relay team.
6. You’ve just realized that you always have so much space in the bleachers at your son’s games because people are moving after you’ve settled into your seat.
7. You assumed that the “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” would be an autobiography by the proud parent of a Detroit baseball player.
8. You’ve installed a whiteboard in the back seat of your SUV so that you can run through plays before the game and go over mistakes on the drive home.
9. You think “The Blind Side” was a how-to documentary.
10. You have more of your son’s high school sports apparel than he does.
All kidding aside, one coach I spoke with suggests that you check with your kids, who are experts at knowing if they’re dealing with an overzealous sports parent. He says these children are often in his office apologizing for their parent’s behavior.
And, he says kids are more likely to accept limitations for them in a sport than their parents are, and kids are often excited about alternatives. A child who knows he will never be a professional player may be very excited about managing a team, or about a future in coaching, teaching or sports announcing. What kids understand is that pure love of the sport doesn’t always result from time on the field or court.
Of course, you could just keep pressing your child, harassing coaches, and alienating yourself from fellow parents—you may end up raising one heck of a punk rock guitarist!