Allowing your child to decide on sports

We left the football stadium after shutting out the other team 41-0 to give us a 3-0 record in district play and I was just livid. I could not be more upset.

Why was I so angry? My son got to play the entire 4th quarter and he played more downs in that game than some kids have the entire season, so far. What would upset me so much that it soured a great win for us? I’ll tell you why, the coach level leaped my son when the two starters ahead of him got injured. That is why. In other words, the coach put in other players when it was clear my son should have been the next in line to show that he can make a difference in the game, not just in the 4th quarter.

I was ready to email his coach and demand an explanation. Even better, I was going to CC the head coach and include him too. Why would you make our son 2nd string only to renege on that promise during the game? Oh, and that was not the only topic I was going to bring up. I was ready to go in with all guns a blazing from practices, scrimmages, depth chart and special teams down to the nth detail of how my son is being overlooked. Why would that coach do that to us?

Why would he do that to us?

I emailed a friend of mine, who is a head coach, to get his opinion of what my next step should be and he gave it to me as nice as he could and in so many words, “Stay out of it and let your son handle it”.

Great idea, instead of me sending an email I will have my son ask him today. I texted my boy while he was at school, and told him to go talk to the coach and find out why he level leaped him and if this is something he will do in the future. I thought I understood what my friend suggested, but I didn’t.

My son’s response, “Maybe this week”.

Maybe this week?  What?!  We need answers now! Isn’t he upset over this? He seemed as upset over this Friday night as I was.

We need to know why coach did this to us!

US?

When it comes to sports there is no US, there is only your child and you are a spectator. When it comes to sports, one of the most difficult and important behavioral changes for parents is to accept what your child wants rather than what you want. As parents, we know what’s best for our kids or at least we think we do and in my experience, we frequently miss the mark when it comes to sports.

Also, to make it even more difficult, when it comes to sports we must accept what the team wants ahead of our own desires. Sometimes the coach must make a decision, for the team, that just utterly inflames us as parents and makes us cry “foul!”.  Sometimes that decision is the right one and sometimes it is not but it is not for us as spectators to decide nor is it fair to assume the coach has ill intentions.

My son’s head coach stated all this prior to the season in a parent meeting with slides and everything too. He said, “Have your son write down what he expects of this season and write down what you expect of this season. If what you wrote does not align with his, change it because what your son wants is all that matters”

“Yeah, Yeah, I know what he wants, I don’t need to do that exercise”, I said to myself.

I tried to rationalize my involvement too. ” I have to step in because I don’t want him having regrets”. “I don’t want him making the same mistakes I did”. At 17 he may never really know what he wants but I can bet it’s not what I want, regardless, and he better make mistakes.

Watching our children excel, especially on the stage that is sports, is more addicting a drug than heroin is to the most down and out junkie. We want it every day and we cannot wait to get our next fix. We will sacrifice much to get it, even the wishes and desires of the very children who provide it.

“Maybe this week” he said.

In other words, “Dad, this is more important to you than it is to me”.

It is a bitter pill to swallow. I must rely on my son to shape his own destiny. I must let him make those decisions even when they might be contrary to mine. I must accept that although it may seem like we want the same thing he ultimately is in charge of his future. That is his job. I am slowly and reluctantly realizing, it is my job to stay out of it, cheer on the team and show that this is about HIM, not US.

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