For Catholic Dads: 10 Commandments for Sports Parents

We like our kids to play sports. It’s not only good for their health it gets them out into the sunshine. Sports have a moral and spiritual dimension as well. They can teach kids about fairness, teamwork and fellowship. Yet, in today’s heated and highly competitive athletic environment, it is all too easy to become the dreaded “Sport Parent.” Here are ten ways to stay cool when your kid is on the field.

  1. Simple rule: don’t do or say anything at a game that you wouldn’t do in front of your child anywhere else.
  2. Sports algebra: Sports are fun for us and our children in an inverse proportion to the importance we put on it. The more serious our attitude toward our children’s participation in sports, the less fun it becomes for the child and us.
  3. The honest truth: Our children will not play professional sports. Many of our children will not win athletic scholarships to college. Let your kids enjoy what they can do and all that they glean from playing sports. Don’t force your dreams upon them.
  4. Know who is really out there: We are not playing the game and our kids are not us. How our children perform in an athletic endeavor has nothing to do with our own self-esteem. It’s unfair for our children if we feel – and act – as if their athletic performance is somehow a reflection on us.
  5. Other people’s kids are still kids: Especially when children are young, remember that all kids are trying to have some fun under difficult circumstances. The other team is not the “enemy,” they are just a bunch of other kids in different uniforms. Treat them as kindly as we’d like our own children to be treated.
  6. Leave the coaches alone: Understand that they are usually volunteers (along with the umpires and referees) who give up a great deal of personal time trying to help our kids. They are not professional and they will make mistakes. That said: no coach has the right to use abusive language with kids and should be reported to the league authorities in any instance of mistreatment.
  7. Take the pulse regularly: Having fun? Check in with your kids often. Especially at the elementary level, the most important reason to have children involved in sports is fun.
  8. If you don’t have something positive to say: The last thing our kids need is a detailed rerun after the game that explains their mistakes. If they did something well, celebrate it. If something bad happened and they want to talk about it, be open to the conversation and help them keep things in perspective.
  9. You should have fun too: If the “fun” for us depends solely on a win or on how well our children have performed, then we have to reexamine our whole attitude.
  10. Every child is unique: Some kids are good at sports, some aren’t. Every child is a unique gift from God. We never want to define a child’s worth by the level of skill on a playing field.