Parent Sportsmanship – an oxymoron?
Results suggest that positive spectator and coach behaviors were significant predictors of positive player behaviors. Similarly, negative spectator behaviors were predictive of negative player behaviors, while negative coach behaviors were not.
So if you didn’t already know, I am a volleyball mom. My 10yo daughter plays for Team AZ, a Starlings affiliated club at our local Salvation Army community center. It’s a wonderful program run by some dedicated & passionate individuals… many of them volunteers. Because so many wonderful people dedicate their time to this center and it’s programs, our club fees are only $250 a year, while most clubs charge anywhere from $500 to $2500.
I am incredibly thankful to have a program like this available for our girls… I am proud of the community of volunteers who coach the teams, administrate the program, the girls who put their hearts into the game and the families that support them. Almost all the time, that is.
Today our girls placed sixth in the tournament, winning one of their three games in two sets and losing the other two games in two sets. We had some spectacular highs… a number of aces, better teamwork than we’ve seen during the vast majority of practices, and the highlight of the tournament… my Halle got her first “spike” during a game.
OK, maybe that wasn’t the highlight of the tournament for EVERYBODY, but it sure was for me!
We had a moment that I was BEYOND proud of… our new assistant coach Tim stepped forward when he overheard the coach of the opposing team dispute a call by one of the officials. He sided with the other coach, asserting that yes, our server had a foot fault. The ref was standing by the linesman’s call, and he could have said nothing. What a wonderful example he set for the girls, sending a strong message about fair play.
And then we had a couple less than stellar moments… we had one player throw the ball forcefully under the net rather than roll it, and another kick the ball under the net, rather than roll it. But this is a young team of strong-willed (read: stubborn as hell) girls who are still learning the meaning of teamwork.
The truly mortifying behaviors came from two of the mothers. One woman, whose daughter has a pretty solid serve but little else (tended to stand in one place while on the court) and who hadn’t been at practice for nearly a month, sent her daughter over to the coach with a message that she needed to speak to her. Coach (who needed focus on coaching a team who had just lost their first game) replied, “I can’t talk to her right now.”
This should not have been a surprise, as a parent letter had specifically stated that Coach encourages parents to approach her about any concerns they have about a child’s performance or playing time, but not during practice or games. I myself have hung around after practice several times to speak with Coach about Halle, and have found her very approachable. I’m guessing this woman, who I don’t remember seeing at any practices, didn’t get this memo.
And so she and her daughter quit, right then and right there.
Now, I say good riddance to bad rubbish… but aside from the complete and utter selfishness of walking out on your team in the middle of a tournament, her daughter went into the break room & announced to the rest of the girls that she was not going to be on our team anymore, that she was going to be on a different team. Right after their first game that ended in a loss. So on top of that disappointment, the girls get walked out on by a friend. You can imagine the tears and the drama.
Then towards the end of the game, another mother was calling to the coach from the sidelines about whether her daughter was going to be put in.
Her daughter who, unless I am mistaken, is regularly late to practice. Who, like Halle, has a lot of potential, but has yet to find a niche. She’s not an outstanding server, and being a one of the younger girls and not very tall, isn’t much of a blocker or spiker quite yet.
During the last game. Which never had much more than a two point spread.
Now, I probably should have mentioned this earlier… and maybe I did… but I’d like to emphasize that Team AZ is a COMPETITIVE volleyball club. This is very clearly stated in the registration packet. While the coaches work to develop the skills of all players, playing time is not guaranteed and if it’s a close game, it’s the coaches prerogative to put the six best players on the floor. Additionally, according to the rules of the AZ Region Volleyball Association, the coach can only make 12 substitutions per game.
The short version: if you want your child to have guaranteed playing time, you might want to consider joining a recreational club.
Now, seeing as my daughter saw very little playing time in the tournament, I know that is hard. But I also know that Halle works a helluva lot harder in a game than she does in practice… and until she starts treating practices like games, she’s not going to see a whole lot of playing time, much less be a starter. She’ll spend more time cheering her team from the bench than in play.
As much as I love to see her play and see her totally surprise the opposing team like she did with that spike, I’m ok with that. Because being part of the TEAM is more than being the star player. Because it’s important to WORK towards a goal and EARN that starter position.
And about coaches in youth sports… but especially the coaches in our club… people, they are VOLUNTEERS. Volunteers who give up personal time with their family to coach your (and my) pre-teen attitude riddled hormonal drama queens. So you don’t like the coach. Or you have an issue with his or her coaching style. That’s fine… but respect the time he or she is sacrificing to support YOUR child. If you’re not happy with how the coach handles the team, next year maybe you should volunteer to coach or assist a team. Or be a team mom… trust me, if you do it right, it ain’t no fluff job. Or attend a practice or parent meeting once in a while. If that’s too much, repeat this to yourself as many times as necessary before you set foot in the gym… and act like YOU got some home training.
“I will encourage good sportsmanship by demonstrating positive support for all players, coaches and officials at every game.”
via When Parents Behave Badly at Kids’ Sporting Events – FamilyEducation.com