We’ve all seen those types of parents before — the ones who are extremely animated during their kids’ games. A lot of times, those parents try coaching their kids from the stands, even though there’s an actual coach there to do that job.
Late last month, South Carolina men’s basketball head coach Frank Martin discussed the topic after seeing it first-hand at one of his son’s basketball games:
Doesn’t fail, I walk in to a gym to watch my son’s 5th grade team play and the game b4 is going on. It’s a 4th grade game, a parent ran on the court losing their mind. Then we wonder y young kids don’t act right.#pleaseDontBlameKids— Frank Martin (@FrankMartin_SC) February 18, 2018
Then late last week, Martin expanded on the topic at a press conference:
Frank Martin discusses the sad reality of parents attempting to coach their kids from the sideline pic.twitter.com/geA6Ce4v40— Plan It Coach (@PlanItCoach) March 18, 2018
Here are Martin’s remarks transcribed from the full video courtesy of The State:
“I know this: I’m probably the most animated coach that you’ve probably ever seen when my team’s playing. I go watch my kids play, I don’t say boo. I don’t wave my arms, I don’t try to coach my kids. With all due respect to most parents out there, I probably know more about basketball than most of them, OK. But I sit in the stands and I don’t say a word. There’s two guys refereeing a fourth-grade game on a Sunday morning. What could they possibly be making? 20 bucks a game? I used to do that. I used to make 12 dollars for 10-and-under, 15 for 15-and-under, and 17 or 18 bucks for high school-age kids. OK, so on a Sunday morning instead of being at church, those guys are out there trying to make a couple bucks, to pay their bills, feed their families.
Do you think they really care what fourth-grade team wins? Do you really think that they like sat at home and said, ‘Oh I can’t wait to officiate that game tomorrow, because that one team, I can’t wait to get that 10-year-old kid and embarrass him in front of people.’ Do you really think that’s what they’re doing? I don’t try to tell my kid how they should play. You know what I tell my two boys when they come at me, ‘Why are you asking me, man? I didn’t run your practice, go talk to your coach.’ ‘But ah —’ ‘don’t talk about your coach in front of me, because if you are then you’re not playing basketball.’ You don’t understand why you didn’t play better? Go talk to your coach. I’m not your coach, I’m your dad. Somebody disrespects you, then I’m here. If you fail, good, deal with it, I’m gonna help you get up. But don’t come talk to me about coaching. I do this for a living, man. I’m not going to criticize a guy that’s trying to help you.
“And then the other part — so that’s the officials. Do you think those coaches coaching fourth-grade kids are making any money? So there’s someone thats giving up their personal time on a Sunday, for free, to help other people’s children, yet, we’re gonna have the adults in the stands yelling obscenities at the officials? Criticizing every decision the coach makes? Yelling at the kids, like the kids — they’re 10 years old, man! Like if they're a LeBron James and Dwyane Wade playing in the NBA Finals, like they know how to handle their coach over here and their parent over here yelling at them. Then we wonder why kids get confused man, why kids rebel, why kids don’t know how to listen. How can you listen when you’ve got so many voices in your head at the same the time. You know what life teaches you? Shut things off.
“And that’s the part that’s frustrating to me, if someone wants to be so animated when there’s a basketball game going on, then go coach the team, go run practices, show up everyday at 6 o’clock at night and run an hour-and-a-half practice. And then you’ve got your team to coach, or be an assistant coach, sit on the bench, yell all you want. I don’t care if people on the bench yell at my kids, I got two boys. If they don’t deal with my children, my children won’t be on their team, my child acts up, or doesn’t do the things the way that they’re expected to do things by them, not me, and they let it happen, I’m taking my son off the team. I want my son to be challenged, both my boys, I want them to grow up and understand what life’s about, but that’s the part that’s sad, man.”
You gotta love Martin’s candor here, when parents’ involvement in their children's’ sports is obviously a complex but very real issue. Maybe some parents could certainly take Martin’s advice, because it’s pretty good! Being a parent watching your child play sports is a different experience for everyone, but if we all took the same approach Martin does, maybe we’d see more positivity than negativity when it comes to parents watching their kids’ sports.