Kids have become extremely independent over the years, but parents still try to make a choice for their children when it comes to sports.
This choice comes in the form of what level the child performs at sport. Most children are quite happy being with their friends at sports practice and consider it a bonus if they make it to the school’s senior team. The problems begin when parents become too possessive of their children and try to make them perform beyond their capacity. In fact, pushing kids to the next level is a technical job and is the role of the coach. We see a good number of kids drop out from sport because of unrelenting parental pressure.
A French table tennis coach once told this writer that parents are there to provide the nutrition at home and buy the necessary equipment for their children. They are allowed to go one step further which is to be present at sports stadiums and cheer their sons and daughters who do competitive sport. But certainly there is going further from there!
However, in the Sri Lankan sports scene, we do hear of parents going beyond pushing their children too hard at sports. There have been instances in sport where some Sri Lankan mothers have cultivated intimate relationships with male coaches with the view of getting their children permanent places in the team. As a result of these developments, authorities in certain schools have put a stop to parent entering sports stadiums during practices. The great disadvantage in this is that parents with a sound knowledge in sport are being denied the opportunity to make a vital contribution to the sport.
During the times when Sir Clive Woodward was England rugby coach, it was evident from his conduct that Woodward was open to ideas from the public. There were occasions when people used to call him from the stands and he (Woodward) would walk up to them and calmly here what they had to say. This is because Woodward knew there were opportunities to learn something new. Some smart coaches love this feedback. Why do you think top research companies sometimes carry our surveys targeting the common man on the street? There are occasions when participants at surveys are paid for their time because there feedback is so vital. Even, in sport research and feedback are so vital when moving forward. But what’s sad is that most schools don’t bother to get the feedback and opinion of parents who are past sports stars.
One top swimming star in the bygone era when responding to this topic highlighted a negative factor associated with allowing patents in the playing area. “The good they can do, can be outweighed by the harm the majority of parents can do if the doors are opened for them to be involved with the system,” the swimmer said.
There have been occasions in the past when parental influence was bringing pain of mind to many in the rugby circles. There were occasions when two very influential fathers obtained favours from the ‘top’ to make their sons captains of the national team.
Surprisingly though when it came to the captaincy of the sons of a past president, parental influence was absent. The rugby authorities these brothers the captaincy fearing they would run into trouble if they didn’t. When the captaincy was given to these two players there weren’t objections raised by the authorities nor the other players.
Most schools don’t permit parents beyond a certain point inside the school. Academic institutes should appreciate the fact that parents set aside time to come to school and attend to needs of their children. This is because there are also parents who don’t have time to witness their children compete at inter-school tournaments.
In the past, parents have a healthy relationship with the coaches of their children. Both parties knew how to cultivate a ‘working relationship’. The best players made it to the team and the majority of parents accepted the coach’s decision as final.
However, at present, the trend at schools where parental influence is concerned is negative. This culture where parents support what’s best for their child over what’s best for the team must be thrown out of the door!