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A common activity that most of us have participated in growing up was community sports. Whether it was intramural soccer, Little League baseball, or township basketball, there is a good chance that either you played in some sort of recreational league, or you have seen someone you know play in one. Our parents might have had a couple different reasons for putting us in sports, maybe it was to let off massive amounts of energy that we had, or on the other hand it could have been because they believed we actually exhibited some sort of talent for the sport. For the group of us that has been a part of a youth team, you are also most likely able to recall that somewhat obnoxious parent who could not help themselves from shouting constantly throughout the game and causing a scene.
I thought back to my glory days of playing sports and could not help but think if there was really a reason behind why some parents could not seem to control themselves when it came to their child's sporting event. Low and behold, there is some research that could explain why these usually ordinary citizens make fools out of themselves when it comes to a little kick of a ball or the crack of a bat.
I came across an article from a website titled, "Moms Team," which discusses different aspects as to why parents of youth athletes seems to act differently when it comes to their child's sports games. Brooke De Lench, the author of this literature piece explains that it is a certain kind of parent who starts problems and acts inappropriately. One of the main reasons why she sees parents act childish is when, "they use youth sports to gratify their egos." She writes that it can be a very emotional time when a child wins or loses, and parents can become aroused with either outcome. De Lench says, "for men, the male hormone testosterone magnifies the positive effect of winning and the negative effect of losing." She goes on to say that "men are so intent on experiencing more emotional highs (and trying to avoid the emotional letdown when their child loses), that such parents literally let their emotions get the better of them, with just about any kind of behavior justified in their minds if it helps the child or child's team win."
Another factor that I did not even considered as to why some parents tend to go wild, is due to the time and money aspect of youth sports. As a child grows and becomes more competitive in his/her sports, the price tends to go up as well. The article mentions that parents want to do whatever will make their kids happy, and if that means checks towards sports tournaments, or time traveling to away games, it will get done. De Lench explains that time and money are in the shortest supply for parents and "too many have come to view their sacrifices as investments which, like any investments, they want to monitor and to protect." Outbursts at a sporting event, when the child does not do as necessarily well as the parent thinks they should, can be linked with the fact that the parent wants to see a positive result with what they are putting into it.
De Lench shares numerous examples that can explain the psychological mind of a parent who actively participates in their child's sporting event. After reading this article, it really makes you think as to how unwanted behavior from parents can change, or if it is even possible. Today, sports are highly regarded in society and many adults believe their child is the next best thing. Do you wonder if it time to change the way youth sports are made up so there is a way to calm the rage that develops in some parents, or do you think the person deserves all the blame? I know I get a little uncomfortable when I see little Jimmy strike out and his father seems to have hit the deep end, but to some adults, sports is the end all be all.
Another interesting read on this topic comes from the New York Times, check it out!