Cut the Cord

Parents love their babies and that’s a good thing. It’s nice to see dads exiting the field carrying their son’s football equipment, with one arm around their shoulder and a half grin that says, “That’s my boy.” I think what is even more admirable is to see the parents without an athletic bone in their bodies who are devoted and passionate, even though they don’t understand the sport. As one parent told me, “I never miss tipoff” when discussing her son who plays FOOTBALL! You gotta love devoted parents! They may not understand the sport, but they love their kids and that’s all that matters. But as is often the case with most anything, what’s good about it is also what’s bad about it – like the law of diminishing return.

A few years ago I coached a kid, “Amber” who was destined for greatness. I knew it when I first laid eyes on her. She was special. She could do things other athletes had to work hard to do. Her mom was very active and devoted to her and the program. Each time I sent home messages to parents, Amber’s mother would call me to verify the message. Once I told the girls the next day’s practice would end early to accommodate the wrestling match in the gym the next day. Amber’s mom called that night and said, “Coach, Amber was saying that practice ends early tomorrow? I am just checking because you know she is not good with giving messages.” On another occasion, Amber’s mom filled out her player profile form, which asked the players interesting facts about themselves, such as their favorite color or school involvement or most embarrassing moment. She delivered the completed form to me (instead of sending it by Amber) and informed me that she wanted to make sure it was completed correctly.

Kids who know their parents will figure things out for them will struggle to take responsibility for themselves. At some point, kids have to be allowed to fail and learn from their failures. Modeling for kids through suggestions is much more effective than doing for kids in the moment. At some point, the umbilical cord must be cut.

Amber received a full ride to play ball at a Division I university. She was irresponsible and did not follow through off the court. Her grades suffered and consequently, so did her playing time. She made it 2 years and then they sent her home. Her mom was miles away and no one was there to deliver her messages or fill out her forms…. Amber (age 24 and working part time) and mom are living happily together today.

“Amber’s” name was changed to protect her identity.
December 10, 2014 by KRIS BRITTON
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