Opinion: Parents present athletes mixed messages

      Being an athlete requires an immense amount of focus, talent, and drive to succeed. When athletes struggle, they can turn to coaches or fellow athletes for support. And increasingly, parents are becoming an influence on athletic performance, both through coaching from the stands and criticizing after the game.
      As both an athlete and spectator, I know firsthand the effects parents can have on a match being played. It is amazing the amount of attention parents draw away from the game by not only bickering with officials, but also yelling at their own kids and any other kid in range. The amount of times I’ve been in the middle of a soccer game and heard parents’ voices drown out my own teammates is immeasurable. The fact that these parents risk the outcome of the game by yelling so loudly and causing communication errors for their own team blows my mind. Sports are all about communication; from basketball to volleyball, these games require sharp team focus, which obnoxious parents destroy.
      In the heat of a game, many adults  will yell at their own child when they play poorly. As a fan, it is so easy to see when a parent has gotten to their child. The lack of respect shown by some parents and fans is beyond me. They’re not only emotionally straining their child, but also causing the team to suffer. In individual sports, this is even truer. Parents single-handedly can ruin personal best times, blow a golfer’s chance for a birdie, or cause a runner to lose focus during that final mile. And that’s all during the competition.
After I lose a game, the last thing I want to hear are my parents’ critiques and judgments of how I played and how our team performed. What about when parents tell their kid that they aren’t giving 100% for the team just because they end up not winning the game? What does that mean? It means that the parent is not supporting their son or daughter and they only want them to win. Is that the positive message that parents want to send to to their child? In no way, shape, or form should parents be able to judge a play when they aren’t even coaches. Teams have a coach for a reason: to help keep the athletes working together smoothly and improve everyone’s performance, yet parents ruin this. Kids look up to their parents, their mentors, and when mom or dad tells you to do something opposite of what a coach wants, it can cause a divide.
      Parents not only affect players on the field, but the referees trying to officiate the game. No player likes the refs, but at least we respect the call. Parents on the other hand just pound the referee with boos, jeers, and insults, and I can tell you, those officials will react. Was one of our players held? Whoops, the ref didn’t see it. Did the guy on the other team travel? Nope. By belittling the officials, parents have now skewed the game.
      So it all leads to parents. Parents are a negative. While it may be good to have them there as fans, parents detract from the game with yelling at the referees and their children, and also hurts the coach’s job by being a large influence on whom their child listens to. From now on, parents should be in a sound-proof box where they can do all the yelling they’d like, without the negative side-effects. 

By: Blake Hartman 

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