Your Kid’s Not Going Pro

A Youth Sports Blog

The field guide to youth sports parents

with 7 comments

Parents are treated as a necessary evil in youth sports, because without them the kids wouldn’t have chauffeurs, coaches and their very existence. You’ve heard about all the crazy sports parents out there, and they all seem alike in their overbearing, screamy, I-love-you-a-little-less-because-you-lost ways — but don’t be fooled! Like Tolstoy’s unhappy family, none of these parents is exactly alike.

In part two of my series looking at the unholy trinity of youth sports (coaches were covered in part one, the kids themselves will be part three), here is a breakdown of the kind of parents you will find on the sidelines:

The Coach

Characteristics: Not the actual coach, but the parent who stands at the sideline and yells instructions because that stupid-ass coach isn’t doing it right, and/or because that stupid-ass kid isn’t doing it right. Is under the apparent belief that his/her child is a voice-activated robot.

Reason kids quit: If they want to get yelled at, they can not take the garbage and get reamed in the comfort of their own home.

[youtubevid id=”6c8wUkCil2s”]

John, for Christ’s sake, would you get behind him?

The Don’t-You-Know-Who-My-Kid-Is

Characteristics: As much agent as parent. Manages child’s career in a way that would make the Lohans look askance. Rips coaches, rips other kids, and butters up anyone who might give their child a leg up. Will starve members of own family to pay for lessons/travel team/steroids, with the full expectation that child will reward them later by turning pro and buying them a big house. If kid screws up, offers the constructive criticism that child is a stupid fuckhead who is letting everyone down.

Reason kids quit: To have a life, and find the birth parents they hope they have.

[youtubevid id=”8aqWnGdEg_0″]

“I’ll get you, buddy.”

The Gossip

Characteristics: Is completely uninterested in what’s going on during the game, but is completely interested in which parent got popped for a DUI or slept with his nanny. Appears friendly, but don’t open up too much or suddenly you’ll find yourself on the business end of a suffering-from-erectile-dysfunction rumor.

Reason kids quit: To leave town after parent cuts out of house in the middle of the night after everyone finds out about their eBay purse-resale scheme.

The Type A

Characteristics: Hands permanently shaped as if holding a Blackberry. On the phone to corporate when kid hits first career home run. Always there, but never really there.

Reason kids quit: They actually quit two seasons ago, but the parent never looked up from the laptop to notice.

The Ass-Kicker

Characteristics: Always ready for a fight whatever pisses them off — the ref, the coach, other parents, own kids, concession stand volunteer, goddamn water bottle that won’t open. Only parent who swears over their breath. One bad day at work and bad call from doing something that’s going to appear on the local news.

Reason kids quit: Can never go out against after ass-kicker parent appears on your local news.

[youtubevid id=”cTTTUBDx_28″]

Next on your local news: dad is an asshole!

The Superfan

Characteristics: Always yelling, always screaming, always clapping for our little baby. Cheers for all players by name like he or she wants to take them home and eat them. Tries to lead the wave.

Reason kids quit: Too many times hearing their toddler nickname in public.

[youtubevid id=”F46FIlrqyEw”]

Is it OK to celebrate an adult who spends a lot of her time uploading videos of high schoolers?

The Absentee

Characteristics: Never there. May or may not bring kids to practice or games. Coach doesn’t like spottiness, but does appreciate knowing this parent will never call to complain.

Reason kids quit: Hitchhiking isn’t legal.

The Role Model

Characteristics: Friendly to parents, respectful of coaches, says the right thing every time to kids. This probably isn’t you.

Reason kids quit: They’ve discovered another interest, and parents risk dissolution of future pro career by allowing children to go on a logical path of self-discovery that may or may not end in an ashram.

Written by rkcookjr

September 24, 2009 at 10:48 pm

7 Responses

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  1. I have seen all of these parents. And I can tell you, as a young player, the whole team simultaneously feels bad for the kid whose parent that is, and want to bludgeon the parent with whatever equipment is at hand.


    September 25, 2009 at 9:06 pm

  2. So which kind is your least favorite?

    Bob Cook

    September 26, 2009 at 12:56 am

  3. The coach. Some of the parent types aren’t too bad, mostly because they are quiet, but the coach and the superfan, just irritate the shit out of the team. Yes, we appreciate the encouragement, no, we don’t want you yelling while we are trying to bat or pitch or whatever it is. If there were a general roar, that would have been fine, but this was city ball, between small towns in Iowa. The coach was irritating because we had good coaches, and they rarely talked to us while we were on the field or court. They would pull us aside, real calm, give us some feedback, and then send us back out there. They had no problems yelling at us in practice, but that wasn’t so high pressure. The really bad ones are the ones that show up for practice. It just gets creepy. What is your least favorite? I imagine as an adult it is different.


    September 26, 2009 at 3:14 am

  4. As a coach, the don’t-you-know-who-my-kid-is is definitely No. 1. The others are annoying (except the role model, of course), but the don’t-you-know-who-my-kid-is is the only one who calls me with a “critique” or to demand to know why I’m picking on their child.

    Bob Cook

    September 26, 2009 at 10:47 am

  5. […] Podlogar, if you read the field guide to youth sports parents, I think you’ll see yourself as The Role […]

  6. […] If this seems draconian, then go to a children’s game sometime — preferably, one that does not involve your own children or community, someplace where you have no emotional involvement. As you listen to the crowd, you’ll realize most parents and fans are respectful, but there are always at least a few who can’t control themselves. […]

  7. […] If this seems draconian, then go to a children’s game sometime — preferably, one that &#1281&#959&#1077&#1109 not involve your &#959wn children or convergence, someplace where you have no emotional involvement. A&#1109 you listen to the crowd, &#1091&#959&#965’ll realize most parents and fans are reverent, but there are always at &#406&#1077&#1072&#1109t a few who &#1089&#1072n’t control themselves. […]

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