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Sit back and enjoy the best value in entertainment, high school athletics

By: SCOTT BAKER

For The Express

If you are a regular at high school sporting events, this is a message that you are very likely familiar with. High school athletics do indeed provide great value. Likewise, youth sports in general can provide great entertainment. The problem is that many have a big problem with both sitting back as well as enjoying the games.

Who struggles the most with this problem? Often, it is parents who struggle to sit back and enjoy. While I do not know the exact reason why they struggle, I have some theories based on observations over the years.

First, many parents today are attempting to relive their sports careers through their kids. With that being said, they get so involved in every play that they have an inability to enjoy the game.

Second, they are so worried about their kid getting that big college scholarship that they again have an inability to enjoy the process of maybe seeing their kid earn it.

Third, they want their kid to succeed so badly that they have an inability to enjoy the game. Sadly their desire to see their kid succeed might even be a bit selfish.

Finally, they have such a fear of their kid experiencing failure that they will do anything to attempt to ensure that it doesn’t happen. In doing so, they likely increase the chances of failure.

Let me address each of these problems one at a time.

Number 1: Parents attempting to relive their sports careers through their kid.

Look, your career, if you had one was yours. Your kid’s career is theirs. You were you. Let them be themselves. In doing so, you will likely find that both you and your kid will have more enjoyment in the moment.

Number 2: Worrying about your kid getting that big college scholarship.

Please rest in the realization that unless your kid is truly exceptional, there will not be a big scholarship. That’s right, college athletic scholarships are few and far between and they are only awarded to the exceptional few who are evaluated based on the standards of college coaches, not parents. Understandably, it is only natural that we believe that our kids are the best, perhaps even that they are exceptional but that doesn’t mean that a college coach with a scholarship to award feels the same way. You see there are many exceptional kids out there competing for those few scholarships. The competition is not limited to the team or field that you’re watching players compete on. In other words, it’s a big world out there. I know that is a tough pill for many to swallow but the sooner that the truth is accepted, the better chance you have of enjoying your child’s sports years. Better yet, they will have a better shot at enjoying those years.

Number 3 :You want your kid to succeed so badly you can’t enjoy the game.

Here’s a little clue, if you are too uptight to enjoy the game, chances are that they are too. Kids can sense their parent’s angst. Do what the commonly-read statement implies, sit back and enjoy the game. Enjoy watching your kid enjoy playing a game. After all, it is just a game. Chances are good that by you being relaxed, they will also relax and ultimately achieve a higher level of performance. That is in fact and rightfully so exactly what you desire anyway.

Number 4 Parents having a fear their kid might experience failure.

Actually, failure while not enjoyable is OK. In reality, it is through failure that kids and adults alike are sometimes able to find their greatest successes. If they fail, find ways to encourage them but don’t let them make excuses. Use their failure as a way to teach them how to succeed. Help them to understand what led to the failure and how they can use it to ultimately succeed. Lessons taught and learned from failure might in fact be the most beneficial reason for having and participating in youth and high school athletics. Failure is just part of a process of learning how to handle all kinds of situations and then using them to succeed. The real goal is succeeding in life. Only if kids are taught that failure is possible and how to pick up the pieces if it does happen, will sports truly have the value that was intended from youth and high school athletics.

Because of the reasons mentioned, I often worry that there are many parents who are failing to enjoy their kids youth and high school sports experiences. Understand that becoming a high-performing player is a process.

It takes time. There will be ups. There will be downs. Ultimately, if the kid has the talent and they work hard enough to be exceptional, they will be rewarded. If they don’t have the talent to be exceptional, that is OK too. Help them to use sports for their intended purpose to have fun developing both mentally and physically in a competitive environment.

By both trusting in and enjoying the process, both the parent and kid alike will find that youth and high school athletics are just as the statement implies, “the best value in entertainment.”

Whether the process results in a college scholarship or pro contract or whether it results in what can be termed, “a great time,” it will have been well worth the time spent for both kid and parent. Let’s all consider our purpose in youth and high school sports. Let’s vow to recognize that they are a huge part of a kid’s development.

Let’s help kids develop in a fun and supportive environment not one where they have intense pressure to win, to make their parent’s proud, and ultimately to achieve that college scholarship. As for me, I will be proud of my kids as long as they work hard, play hard, are good sports and play whatever sport they choose the right way. If that means they are exceptional in the minds of others, great. If not, as long as they have worked hard and played the game the right way, I’m confident that they will achieve the greatest value that sports have to offer.

I can then sit back and enjoy the best value in entertainment, high school athletics. Well, at least I can sit back and relax when I’m not coaching. When I am… stress. No seriously, I view all of my players as my kids, so as long as they work hard and play the game the right way, I’m happy to watch. I will let the outcomes be what they may.

Is that easy for me to do?

No.

Is it right?

Yes!

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