Sports are a very big part of our everyday life, and that's a good thing. Sports to me teach friendships, team play and how to be a part of something. Once a gentleman told me that when he looks to hire staff members the third thing he looks at other than the name and education, is whether or not they played sports. His quote was, "If you can learn to play on a sports team, then you should know what it's like to be a team player and sometimes learn that you're not the best, but if you work hard you could be." Right or wrong that's an interesting concept.
Twenty years ago basketball was competitive, but today there's so much more for players. There were Nike Camps but nothing like it is today. Now there're recruiting services, video footage and combines for athletes. Let's be honest here – athletes are a lot better or should I say "athletic" today than in years past. It can be argued that one of the reasons is because kids today are starting competitive sports at the age of nine and ten.
But what about the kids who aren't that good right now but mom and dad think so? Sometimes parents are living through the eyes of their child and blinded by the truth. This often causes problems for the child, team, coach and parent.
Kids develop at different stages so it's tough to give up on a child, but some parents think (no matter what) Jr. can play Division I ball and no coach is going to tell them differently. The problem is the percentage of kids playing at that level has gone up over the years, but at the same time it's not a very high percentage.
Try going to a game and listen to a parent from the stands only yell or cheer for his/her child, and when mistakes are made only to hear them blame others, or say they're tired or it's the coaches fault because "he's stupid". Or what about the friend of the family that wants a pay-out because he can get you close to the situation, and then you hear, "I'm the one who taught him how to play." What's that all about?
I agree sports are more competitive today than in past years so there's more pressure, but has anyone stopped to think about the embarrassment it causes the child? Part of being an athlete is playing the game the way it was supposed to be played, but at the same time not under stress. Personally, I coach and recently I had a father tell me, "Kedric, have you ever heard of the way Earl Woods treated Tiger when he was younger? If you want your child to succeed, then you better get with the program buddy." Because "that" method worked for Tiger doesn't mean it will for everyone else.
Often times parents blame their child's lack of play on the fact that the "other" kids' parents have more money. The bottom line is this: some coaches may sit a player to teach or educate him, but I can assure you they all want to win and will put the best players on the floor to do so.
There are so many levels of competition for our kids today. What parents need to do is stop thinking with their hearts and use their heads. Be honest about your child's abilities. At the Division I level, college coaches get calls everyday about "my" son or daughter and get video tapes sent because they have "what it takes". If you are good, no matter where you live, they will find you.
Let the coaches coach. It is easy to sit and say what you would have done after the fact, or to think that if Jr. would have been in we wouldn't have lost. It is human nature to think your son/daughter is good, but when you brag about it - it becomes a bore.