Are you a bad sports parent?


The following post contains graphic and objectionable language. If you are easily offended by language of this nature, I suggest you move on to the next blog now.

“Swing the bat you little puta,” a parent yelled at his 8 year old son.  I never knew what this meant until I asked one of my Spanish speaking friends. For those of you who didn’t know, he was saying, “Swing you little bitch!” Now I know why the kid wouldn’t swing. I guess little bitches don’t swing.

That’s just one of the things I’ve seen as sports parent of a 9 year old boy. I don’t know if it gets worse than that, but there’s more.

I’ve seen a parent yell at an umpire: “You better run to your car mother fucker!” The umpire made a call that changed the outcome of a 10 and under baseball game.

I’ve seen a coach of a 12 year old baseball team throwing bats and yes, the Gatorade cooler on the field. Who does he think he is, Billy Martin? Bobby Cox? Lou Pinella?

I asked someone next to me what was wrong with the Gatorade throwing coach and I got an even scarier answer. ” Oh that’s just the way “Greg” is. Besides, he’s just yelling at his son,” they guy said. Almost fell out of my chair.

I recently saw a parent barking orders at his son at a basketball practice.  “Stop fucking double dribbling!” he yelled. Worse yet, his wife yelled something to their son and he told her to “shut the fuck up.”

I’ve seen lesser players taken out of a baseball game so a better player could participate.  The reason?  They were misbehaving.  Odd how the same kid misbehaved two different times in two different games right before it was his turn to bat.

So I’ve been around sports with my son for about 4 years now.  I must say that I have seen the gigantic majority of parents and coaches to be supportive of the officials and the kids. But this stuff just sticks out to me.

Help me out here. What do you think is wrong with these bad sports parents? Did they have a subpar athletic background themselves?  Are they trying to live vicariously through their 8,9 or 10 year old? Do they really think that their child is going to land one of the 480 NBA player jobs?  These are our cherubs we’re talking about. Please let me know what you think.

~Mike

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19 Responses to “Are you a bad sports parent?”

  1. Terez w. Says:

    Wow, Mike, this post just blew me away. I don’t have children myself, but the type of behavior these parents are exhibiting is deplorable!

    It sends so many unhealthy messages to the children, mainly that “winning” is all that counts. What happened to having the pure joy of playing the sport, or the character building benefits of being part of a team?

    Also, my opinion is, it is NEVER okay to curse at a child. Verbal abuse can leave emotional scars and weaken a child’s self-esteem.

    I don’t know where these parents’ priorities are, but they are most definitely not in the right order.

    • Mike LaMonica Says:

      Hi Terez-

      I once wrote an ad for the National Ad Council. The headline was:

      Words hit harder than a fist. Watch what you say.

      There is a small group of us that are going to try to start a more earnest movement away from this and for stricter enforcement. It’s a good mission and I thank you for adding to this important conversation.

      You don’t have to be a parent to understand how bad this is for the purpose of youth sports and to the spirit of our children.

      ~Mike

  2. mkhall Says:

    Once I went to a Little League game with a woman I was dating, and saw a guy screaming at all the kids and being very demeaning toward them. Another parent asked him to tone it down, and he replied “, Hey, the world’s a bitch. If kids don’t learn to kick ass and take names they’ll always be losers. You want your kid to be a fuckin’ loser?”

    I don’t have kids, so I’m not sure what credibility my opinion holds, but I think this sort of asinine behavior helps develop the next generation of assholes.

    • Mike LaMonica Says:

      Hi MK-

      You don’t have to be a parent to have credibility on this one. I bet the guy who said “the world’s a bitch” has a bitch of a world. Just keep him away from the kids I devote my time energy and heart to.

      Thanks my friend.

      ~Mike

  3. Rob aka Beer Drinker Says:

    Hey Mike.

    Seems the cursing is the biggest issue. Come on, puta is standard Miami English. No one believes you didn’t know that one. 🙂 But I learned the expression “Fumer como putas en carce” or something like that back in 1996, and haven’t stopped laughing yet.

    I was in sports my entire life (football, baseball, wrestling, others), rural PA, and never remember one outburst like that with a coach or parent. One asshole my age (12) did curse out an umpire and throw second base into the outfield one night, but that was about it. Even when my HR hit the top of one nurse’s car, she didn’t even curse out Dr. Dad (or me).

    This reminds me of a South Park episode where the South Park kids have Randy always fighting the other team’s drunk dad. It’s pretty awesome. The kids actually want to lose the games and not advance because of it.

    Not sure how to handle the bad parents, but I bet if you told the screamers and assholes to shut the fuck up (and grow up), 15 other parents would have your back!

    • Mike LaMonica Says:

      Hi Rob-

      We’re going to try to make it more a part of the coaching/parenting culture so I hope it doesn’t turn into a mob mentality against the offenders.

      I take it back. I do hope it turns into a mob mentality against the verbal and emotional abuse of what is supposed to be fun and part of bringing up happy and health kids.

      Thanks Rob.

      ~Mike

  4. Jill Says:

    We’ve seen this, too and we don’t get it.
    I think some people are just assholes…LOL

    • Mike LaMonica Says:

      Hi Jilly-

      I must say that the incidents and stuff I’ve mentioned here are the exception and so many parents coaches and officials are so great and the kids love and respect them.

      Project asshole elimination underway.

      ~Mike

  5. blackwatertown Says:

    Unacceptable behaviour in my opinion. It also wears down those volunteers carrying out umpiring duties. I know referees don’t do it to become popular, but this sort of abuse could prompt you to wonder what else you could be doing with your time instead of helping kids get into sport.

    • Mike LaMonica Says:

      Hi Paul-

      I really hope it doesn’t come to that parents will look elsewhere. It’s like beating a disease. We just have to get rid of a little bit and keep it out.

      Thanks for adding to this important discussion. I appreciate it and I’m sure all the kids do.

      ~Mike

  6. Desiree Says:

    Oh boy, my dad used to umpire for the girls softball league I played for and he was tough with the strike zone when I was at bat.
    I remember once, Susan E.’s dad, who owned the local Sunoco station (big dude) got in my dad’s face and threatened to beat the shit out of him because he didn’t like how he was calling her pitches. Susan & I played on the same team in high school and it was interesting when our dads were at the games at the same time.
    Her dad eventually got banned from all softball games when he threatened
    the coach.

    • Mike LaMonica Says:

      Hi Desiree-

      Thanks for the visit! We have rules but some of the infractions are tough to enforce. And some of the stuff is done on the sly. One thing I can say is that none of it is good for the kids.

      I’m afraid of the big dudes. Thankfully I’m fast.

      ~Mike

  7. Tweets that mention Are you a bad sports parent? « Mike LaMonica's Blog -- Topsy.com Says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by The Dude Dean, MikeLaMonica and Brian Kirsch, Sueanne Shirzay . Sueanne Shirzay said: $%&# no, Mike. But I do like to say *trow da bawl*. Because I can. RT @MikeLaMonica Are you a bad sports parent? http://bit.ly/azREPb […]

  8. sueanne shirzay Says:

    In my area, there is a ZERO tolerance policy for this type of behavior, and the parents actually behave. Which basically means they yell, but don’t swear or threaten. BY FAR the worst offenders are the coaches that are coaching their own kids yelling at their kids.

    BTW I can’t believe you didn’t know what a puta was. I knew that in college. Puerto rican roomie. LOL

    • Mike LaMonica Says:

      Hiya-

      I know people because I’m a deal. This year, I know the commish.

      Actually we’re going to try to get stiffer enforcement of some of the guidelines that are already in place. I hope it works out. And we can keep the puta out of the game.

      ~Mike

  9. The Dude Dean Says:

    I blame the hockey mom’s and the Tea Party.

    • Mike LaMonica Says:

      Dean-

      I find it’s more the hockey dads that are at least the more vocal and egregious offenders.

      Maybe the Tea Party is planning on starting an additional conference in the NFL–at least that’s what the back buzz is on them.

      ~Mike

  10. Johnny Bond Says:

    I think they just get so wrapped up in the game and in their own little world, they forget that pee-wee sports is about the kids having fun.

    • Mike LaMonica Says:

      Hi Johnny-

      Ding! Ding DIng! Correct answer!

      One thing though and it’s a fine line I find as both a coach and as a parent. The kids always seem to have a better time if they at least feel like they’re improving. So I try to pull them along rather than some of the overzealous pushing I see. It seems to be working. Thanks for stopping in.

      ~Mike

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