Your Kid’s Not Going Pro

A Youth Sports Blog

Hope springs infernal

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The Des Moines Register’s Marc Hansen posits a theory, as he spins a yarn about a referee friend who tossed a dad out 30 seconds into a fifth-grade girls’ basketball state tournament game, why the worst-acting parents are at the younger kids’ events:

It’s different at the high school tournaments, and I have a theory. According to Hansen’s Youth Sports Law, the younger the athletes, the louder and wackier the parents.

The high school parents are far, far from perfect, but most are resigned to the reality of the situation. That NBA contract or that full scholarship to Duke is not in the cards for their child.

The whacked-out fifth-grader’s dad, on the other hand, still holds hope and acts as if every whistle will either move the kid closer or further away from the dream, even if it’s just a starting spot on the varsity.

Every call is crucial, even if the player in question is still young enough to leave something under the pillow for the tooth fairy.

To the whacked-out fifth-grader’s dad, much is at stake. High school parents, on the other hand, have learned from experience.

That makes some sense. But I would add that a crazy sports parent in fifth grade is going to stay a crazy one in high school, too. Except that instead of popping off at refs, the savvy crazy sports parent is posting videos, badgering coaches in private, yanking kids from club team to club team, and calling the local newspaper to demand huge photos of their kid to “attract recruiters.”

Also, it’s generally easier in a fifth-grade environment to be heard — fewer fans in the stands, and fewer barriers between yourself and the floor/field/pitch/ice. Also in high school, there is an expected decorum. The only people who get to shout obscenities during the game are other high schoolers. Actually, it may be that the parents are just as loud in high school, but that they’re drowned out by the relatively larger crowd. I’ll let you know if and when my kids start playing high school sports.

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