Who’s Watching

This post has been bouncing around for the last few years if I am being honest. The topic started out as just an observation on school sports, mostly the adults of school sports. The coaches, the parents, the spectators, and how they set the example for our children and what is and is not acceptable. This is morphing into another idea about pressure and the unfair amount of it that is being placed on the backs of our young athletes but let me start where I began.

I have attended a lot of sporting events in my life and I was raised by a father who as a coach valued the sportsmanship award as much if not more than the championship. As a teacher, I love going to see my students play in their different sports. Cheering them on and supporting their efforts win or lose.

Here is where we are about to get real…

I have noticed more and more I am not sure all the adults in the space are there to support the kids.

Things I have seen

  • Coaches yelling at kids
  • Coaches yelling at fans
  • Fans heckling kids (Elementry track meet, yup parents heckling 10-year-olds)
  • Kids with vicious, unkind chants and cheers and adults smiling at them laughing at the cruelty

What are we doing? We are adults and we shame kids for losing a game? We are adults and we are hoping that children fail so that others can win. Literally, wishing a child in a track meet fall so another can win? What are we doing as fans that a 13-year-old feels emboldened enough to tell off a ref because he thinks the ref has treated him unfairly? What are we doing? What are we doing that makes a child who misses a basket or starts to lose a game break down in tears, wiping his eyes as he runs to try and fix his “mistake” all will his coach throws up his hands symbolizing he has already given up on them. What are we doing?

More importantly, who is watching?

Kids learn from the examples put before them.

Are we helping them to be better? Not on the court or the field but in life?

I can’t help but think we are not.

No one will remember the track score, or the football highlights 20 years from now. They will remember who made a positive impact in their life. Kids should be motivated by the celebrations of success, not the fear of failure and what comes next.

We should always remember “Who’s Watching”


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