“He didn’t even touch him, get up!” A man yells at the referee just after his 8-year-old son stepped on an opponent’s right ankle.
As the injured boy clutches his leg, the chatter on the sidelines begins to raise concerns about the 15-year-old referee’s ability to referee a U9s travel game fairly.
If you know me, you know how competitive I get and how sport can unleash a wild beast in me. However, I sometimes struggle to wrap my head around it like some do parents care so much about their third grader winning his soccer game, to the point that the fun is completely sucked out of the sport.
The intense parental involvement in youth sports not only puts pressure on the athletes, but guiding them in their every move and yelling at them from the sidelines to tell them what to play and where to go doesn’t help.”
— William Murray ’25
Being a footballer myself, I had numerous experiences in elementary school with parents being so invested in my football games to the point where, be curious, there was outright fighting between the parents on the sidelines.
Don’t get me wrong, athletes love to compete in high-stakes sporting events, but I promise you (and like I said, I love playing and watching sports as much as anyone) there are far more pressing issues out there to worry about It’s about who wins the annual Columbus Day Tournament for boys under 9 years old.
The intense parental involvement in youth sports not only puts pressure on athletes, but guiding them in their every move and yelling at them from the sidelines to tell them what to play and where to go doesn’t help. If you play sports, you have most likely heard the quote that 90% of the time, sports mental and 10% physical. One of the most important things for young athletes is to develop their brains so they can read the game and become a self-sufficient player in terms of strategy and mental toughness.
When a parent or even a coach plays the game for a young athlete and gets frustrated with making a shot or trying a skill, they are just driving the creativity and independence out of them. In most cases, this leads to the child losing passion for the sport.
Thankfully, when I was younger, my parents had a great understanding of the importance of letting me and my teammates play freely. They encouraged me to take risks, try new skills and enjoy the sport as a whole. I would say that this has contributed greatly to my overall love of the sport.
On the other hand, I’ve had numerous teammates who were pressured or played in a certain way, which parents shouldn’t do. In summary, in my experience, parents’ over-involvement in youth sports can greatly damage their children’s love for them.