Children learn from our example

“The Angry Coach” at EliteFTS was writing A Sad Commentary on the State of Youth Sports. As I read it, it actually felt like a sad commentary on today’s youth and parenting in general.

He was observing a youth sports practice, and three things stuck out to him:

1. Practice started at 9 AM, but more than half the team showed up at 9 on the dot or later. This kills me. As a coach, 9 does not mean 9. Ideally, it means about 8:30. At a minimum, it means 8:45. When your kid has practice at 9, and you drop him/her off at exactly 9 (or worse, you’re later, which many parents were), what message are you sending? These are not going to be the “first in the weight room, last out” kids, because that concept will always be foreign to them. The good player, when he has practice at 9, shows up 20-30 minutes early, gets his equipment on, then goes out and warms up with his friends, throwing the ball around. He doesn’t show up when practice is supposed to start, stealing everyone’s time while he gets ready. That’s a shitty message to send your kid.

2. I saw multiple parents carrying their kids’ equipment bags across the street for them. I’ve never seen anything like this before, but I guess it’s because I don’t have kids of my own and because I’m not really involved with any youth leagues. For pretty much every other kid on this team, one parent would open the back of the mini-van, take out the kid’s gear bag, and carry it across the street while the kid walked over with his friends. I saw one kid (remember, they were 12, tops) on a cell phone while his mother was carrying his equipment. I don’t think I need to go into great detail on how this will hinder these kids as athletes. What was shocking about it was the number of parents doing it.

3. I saw multiple parents ignoring the one-way signs at the entrance to the parking lot so they could jockey for closer parking spaces. Again, another horrific message to send your kid (and likely one of the reasons why my car insurance payments are so f-ing high). This teaches the young athlete a number of things: 1) Narcissism, i.e., “I’m entitled to a better parking space than all my teammates.” 2) Taking the easy way out. 3) Flouting the rules because “we’re special and they don’t apply to us.” 4) “Nobody else matters but me, and I can do whatever I want no matter how much it inconveniences my team.”

Frankly, I see all three of these things as a more general problem today.

What happened to being early is being on time, and being on time is late? I deal with this every day, where meetings are set for a certain time, and people consider that time to start thinking about coming to the meeting. No, if the meeting starts at 10:00, you are seated and ready to go by 10:00, not that at 10:02 you leave your desk and saunter in delaying everyone until you grace us with your presence. Everyone seems to give service to the notion that time is precious and matters, but yet, actions don’t treat that time as precious.

What happened to kids being kids, and parents being parents, instead of parents being the servants of children? Parents should not be begging their children to undertake some action; the child should be told, the child should do, and if they don’t there are negative consequences. Granted, it’s not always so cut and dry, but the parent is supposed to be the one in charge. Should Mom be stuck unloading the groceries from the car while the kids run into the house and play? Hell no! They should be unloading, putting everything away, and doing their part to help out around the house. They should carry their own bags, their own stuff. Sure, small children are different, but as they get older, they need to start being given more treatment like adults, which includes carrying your own weight.

And #3. Oh, I deal with this one too often. I have nothing more to add above what The Angry Coach wrote.

Really, you want to know why kids are as they are today? Here’s a good starting list. And really, it just leads back to the parents… because they will learn from our example. And if this is the example set, what will their children learn from them?

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