If you have followed me for the past few years, I gravely apologize. You will know that I am sports coach and official. Being a basketball coach and being a baseball umpire are two things that I truly love to do. As you can imagine I have come across a whole cast of characters in my travails, Players, coaches, administrators and of course parents. Most of my interaction with the aforementioned have been pleasant, but you have those few that are just not worthy of your attention, especially the parental ones.
When I caught wind of a documentary that was done last year called “Trophy Kids”, I had to watch. To say I was not surprised is an understatement, mind you, the parents that were captured in this documentary, I am pleased to say, I have not come across. These parents were obsessed, rude, demeaning, unrealistic, and just absolutely crazy. I’ve always told my wife, if I ever become THAT parent, her instructions are to remove me from the premises, pull my daughter from whatever sport she is playing and divorce is an option. That’s how much I do not want to become that parent.
The first scene of the film is one of the parents, who played football at University of Washington, doing drills with his 15 year old son. The moment I started to watch it I said to myself “This kid hates playing football”. His body language just exuded his hatred for the sport and the resentment he was showing towards his dad. I didn’t blame him; he was sworn at and put down at least a half a dozen times before the opening credits stopped. In follow up research his son is no longer playing sports and moved back to Washington (he was living in California with his dad) with his mom.
Another parent spent upwards of over $100,000 on training, pills (yes I said pills), coaches, teams, travel and equipment so his son could reach the goal of a Division 1 scholarship. He was quoted as saying he spent the equivalent of “two Lamborghini’s” on his son’s basketball. That wasn’t even the worst part, this guy was a total psycho at the games yelling at coaches, players, and referee’s to a point he was banished from attending his son’s high school game. In follow up research, his son earned a Division II scholarship and was kicked off the team because he butted heads with the coach. I wonder where he learned that from.
The two stories that really touched a nerve with me was the parent of teammate of the basketball player above and the father of 7 year old girl golf player. The basketball player’s dad was so infuriated at the “lack of respect” (translated to mean lack of playing time and play calling) that his son was getting from his coach that he organized a parental coup to have the coach removed. In the end, the coach got fired. The dad in the end admits that he was off the wall, but in my eyes he forced someone else to be let go because of it. That doesn’t sit well with me. Coaching other people’s children nowadays is a thankless job.
The one parent, I just could not even stomach was the dad of the girl golfer. He was always riding her and fighting with her on the course. There were two instances where I truly could not stomach this man. The first instance was when his daughter hit a bad shot off the tee; he referred to her as a “(expletive b(word)”. Dude, that is your daughter!! At the end of the film when asked if he was doing the right thing, not only did he affirm that he was, he doubled down as he said “All you need to do is have your kids buy into your dreams and it will all go smooth”. How Marxist of him. In follow up research, his daughter is still at it and I can’t even imagine what her daily life is like.
Falling into this mode as a parent is easy, I get it. You love your children, you want what is best for your children and you want your children to succeed to the highest level. But at what point do you create someone that will resent what you think they love, resent you and possibly hate you. I have news for the majority of parents out there; your kid is not going pro. Earning a division 1 scholarship is extremely difficult. I have vowed to not be that dad and I have put parameters in place to keep me from being that dad. I sat and watched my daughter play soccer this year and I can say with the utmost confidence that she will not be the next Mia Hamm or Abby Wambach, she can prove me wrong. I sat and watched my daughter play basketball, she loved it. But I sometimes wonder if she loves it because she knows I am a coach and she feels she has to, I will let her make that determination. That’s just it, I want my daughters to try everything and decide for themselves what they love, if they want to become professional figure skaters, then I will provide them the tools to do so. If they don’t ever want to play sports and do other things, I’m cool with that too. Either way, I will sit and watch, quietly.