Well Bobby… Mamas wrong again!
The system is crazy, the system is broken. It’s the product of greed, ego, and the quest for power; from administrators, individuals, facility owners, and yes some parents, and yes also some coaches. We could all point a finger at each other, and at any given time we could all be right.
The craziness of it all has everyone acting a little bizarre, defensive, frustrated, and confused. It’s harder than ever to be a parent of an athletically inclined kid. It’s harder than ever to be a coach of a completely baffled, defensive, and probably broke, parent.
Much of the problem is driven by confusion and mixed messages about what could cost our kids opportunities and what could help them reach their goals. Much of the problem is the way we, as coaches, refuse to include parents in the process. If you blindfold a parent trying to navigate confusing landscape of sports to keep them out of your business then we bring out a combative, protective instinct that we only worsen by alienating them.
And what are we teaching our kids by telling them that we don’t want to hear from their parents? Are we really saying that we expect a child to know how to communicate without any assistance? And that we can’t handle communicating with an adult who is advocating for their kid? Really? We can’t handle parents? Are they not paying and signing up their kid under our care, and then stuck struggling to understand through the communication of a child who often is wrapping the message around their own emotions and perspective? This is not the NFL. Kids are learning how this works, so are many parents.
My door is open. My philosophy, strategy and a full explanation are the right of any family in my care. I’ll tell you if an opportunity is really worth it. I’ll tell you if you don’t need to worry about that seemingly pressing issue right now. I’ll tell you why I made a decision. I’ll tell you when I mess up. I’ll tell you when I don’t agree but I’ll be happy to explain my perspective and to honestly listen and hear yours.
You want to talk playing time? Fine with me- also here’s a strategy to increase it and my number for any questions or assistance. And while we are at it, let’s set up a meeting to follow up on their progress and make sure it’s working. Need to play with another team at a tourney for some reason? Great let’s make sure it doesn’t conflict with your commitment here and I’ll help you set it up. Worried about division 1 offers? Well they are 12 so let’s not stress about this tourney quite yet. Parents don’t need to pay for more training, more practices or more travel out of fear.
I’m here to serve. It’s not about me. It’s not about the name in my team. It’s about your child’s experience, so I always know that my intention aligns with the parents. It means we always attack conflict from the same side and are working towards resolution.
Will there be crazies? Of course. They are parents too. They also are people we work with. Sometimes we have to coach with them. They are out there, always will be, and when we continue to be open and service-minded then the crazies move on as the supportive parents who will know what’s going on for once will far out number them. Or perhaps thy are just crazy from a broken system with coaches who have shut them out, and the crazy will subside in a safer environment. Or maybe you have to remove them.
But parents are the reason we have teams. I don’t know any kids who pay, drive themselves to practice, tirelessly get to games often far away from home, volunteer, wipe the tears afterwards, spend hours in the backyard offering practice help, and work that second job to pay for all the gear that they outgrow as soon as they break it in.
It’s time to welcome our parents back into the game, it’s time to fix a broken system. We are way overdue for dropping the blame and acting on positive change.