While shopping the other day, I saw a sign that pretty much sums up the two choices parents have when it comes to taking the youth sports journey with their young athletes. The sign read: Be a Fountain, Not a Drain. We all have that choice to make daily as we interact with others, but what does sports parenting look like that is a fountain? A drain?
The Drain Sports Parent
What does a drain do? It empties the water out of the sink or tub. Sports parents who are drains tend to gradually empty things out of their young athletes; things like enthusiasm, motivation, and the willingness to persevere. Drain sports parents harp on mistakes, complain about playing time, trash talk the coach and other players--all behaviors that will take the fun right out of youth sports. And when your your child is drained of enthusiasm, motivation, and persistence, he or she will either get burnt out, quit, give up trying, or play without enjoyment.
The Fountain Sports Parent
What does a fountain do? A drinking fountain gives refreshment, a musical fountain is enjoyable to watch, and a splash fountain is a fun place to cool off on hot days. Sports parents who are fountains refresh their kids by supporting them; they enjoy the game instead of coaching from the stands, and offer a safe place for kids to “cool off” after working hard. Fountain sports parents look for small victories to encourage their kids even after rough games.
They support the coach, even if they don’t agree with his or her strategy. They cheer for the whole team. They listen to their kids’ rants without adding fuel to the problem. They care more about loving and supporting their child than about pushing him or her to perform. Parents, make a choice today which sports parent you want to be. Do you want to add or subtract from your child’s sports experience? Do you want to be life-giving or life-sucking? Fountain sports parents are the only ones who will make a positive difference in our youth sports culture.