After three different football games this weekend, it was easy to see, following all three losses. The kids were down, coaches were down and the parents...well that was a whole different beast altogether.
Over the years, from what I've seen, parents often fall into two different categories. The first being the ones who hash out the whole game on their kids, attacking them from the minute the game's over. Then there are the parents who support their kids, win or lose, unconditionally.
I read a study once, where college and professional athletes were asked what their worst memories of childhood and high school sports were. Number one answer?
The car rides home.
It's hard to know the root of why parents feel the need to yell at their kids in sports. Sometimes they're trying to live through their children. Sometimes they think their kids should simply be doing better, trying harder.
There's a time and place to go over their performance though and that's not right after a game when emotions are high.
Athletes get yelled at, by their coaches. That's what coaches are for. Not to say that parents don't have the right to guide and direct their son or daughter in what they think is right, there's just a way a parent should do it.
I remember a friend who had a dad who was a perfectionist. No matter what she did, win or lose, he was there at the end of every sporting event to yell at her...and I mean, yell.
She didn't run fast enough, play hard enough, do well enough. No matter what she did, it wasn't her best, according to him.
She was a star athlete to everyone else but all she wanted from him, her own father, was to hear just once, "I'm proud of you. You are wonderful".
It never happened.
Parents have to know the effect this has. Parents should be the safest place for their child to land, following the greatest win or the toughest loss.
That's hard to do sometimes, but important to try.
There's something so much more meaningful than the game, and that's the integrity of the team and the heart of each player. Their character and direction will be largely guided by you.
So, take a deep breath and try to remember the next time your keys tighten in your hand, as you walk away from the game. There are only so many car rides home for your child to look back upon.
How do you want yours to feel when they remember the ones they had with you?