Things parents need to know about youth sports

by Randy Behr
Stripes Okinawa
I am shifting gears from a fitness and health article to sports and specifically to a “youth sports” parent article. 
In today’s youth sports, it is all too common to read story after story of inappropriate, bizarre and poor sportsmanship of the parents that attend their children’s games and violence that is spewing out to our culture and children.
As a result of this behavior, I felt compelled to write up a few issues for all of our fans.
Four statements everyone and especially parents need to know.
1.Mom and Dad, your days of playing are over, so stop living vicariously through your children.  It is great to be a supportive parent and want your child to be successful and do well. However, there is a fine line between wanting your child to do well and YOU wanting to win the game and championship for yourself.  If you don’t know the difference, ask your child. They will more than likely be able to tell you which category you fall into.
2.It is just a game.  No one is losing their life or losing their job.  It isn’t that serious.  The children are out there to have fun and get some exercise along with a host of other great characteristics sports provide for individuals.  If you don’t believe me, check the research and ask your child the number 1 reason why they are playing.
3.Stop embarrassing yourself.  The coaches and umpires, referees, officials are all volunteers, so please go easy on them. Trust me, they aren’t always going to make the “right call.”  Turn on the T.V. and watch the best in the world miss calls!  If you have never been an official/umpire/referee, I encourage you to try it out as you will quickly find out it is more difficult than you thought.
4. Your son and/or daughter isn’t going to play professionally, so “come to grips” with this.  Besides sports are meant for far more critical things in their lives than this.  For example, it is creating critical life-long skills like promoting teamwork, responsibility, accountability, sportsmanship, hard work, morals and ethics, besides the ever important health/fitness aspect. Look at the percentage of youth sports participants whom make their high school team, then a smaller 
percentage whom go on to college and then even smaller that play professionally.
Trust me parents, if you’re able to understand and follow these ever so important statements, you will have given your son/daughter a positive and healthy environment to grow into a young adult.
Lastly, these ideas and advice are a great starting point to support your child, the team, other parents and the coach.  In the “big” picture, it will pay off and everybody will be much happier and comfortable!
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