Several weeks ago I came across a heart-wrenching piece by John O’Sullivan of Changing the Game Project, www.changingthegameproject.com An Open Letter to My Dad, Who Makes me Want to Quit Sports, http://changingthegameproject.com/open-letter-dad-wont-stop-yelling/ is actually a compilation of letters, stories and comments made by kids involved in youth sports. It is well written and painful to read. Margot and I can attest to these being real feelings and experiences of young people based on stories we have heard from kids. It takes a phenomenal amount of courage for children to have this talk with their parents.
On several occasions during my time as Director of Athletics at the high school or collegiate level, I’ve had young people come in my office to tell me they were quitting their sport and indicating that they wanted to quit sooner but they said, “I knew my dad couldn’t handle it”. In these situations and far too often around the country, the sport ceases to belong to the kids and has become the parents’ event. It’s obvious that it means more to the parents than the kids. They show more emotion, they talk more about it, they analyze the games and they don’t know how to move beyond the game.
It is so unfortunate that in the world of youth sports, the only time we hear the voices of the participants, our children, is when they are ready to quit and have to break the news to the adults. In our book, Overplayed, Margot and I offer tips for conversations after practices or games. We share questions that parents can’t not ask as well as those that should be avoided.
I invite you, after you have read this letter and allowed the guilt to move you, share it with another parent. I’m sure we can all think of parents who should read this letter. Let’s remember that when it comes to our children, we parents are capable of irrational behavior. There are powerful lessons in this letter that I hope you pay close attention to.
For more information on navigating the journey through youth sports, tune in to the Focus on the Family radio broadcast, Thursday and Friday, September 15 and 16. Margot and I share tips for parents that come directly from our book, Overplayed: A Parent’s Guide to Sanity in the World of Youth Sports. If you can’t get listen to the programs on the radio catch them on the following website: