So God Made a Mother Collection ➔

A friend of mine recently asked to bounce a concern off of me in regard to his grandson who, at 11 years old, is crazy about basketball. He loves to play, practice, and watch games on TV. My friend sometimes takes him to see NBA games in a nearby city. Ben plays in a rec league on weekends and loves it. He’s pretty good too, my friend told me, but there’s a problem during games.

It seems that Ben’s dad gets pretty animated in the stands when Ben’s on the court, and yells out a lot of critical comments. Other parents notice of course, and the boy gets very embarrassed and often comes close to tears by the time he leaves the floor. Ben’s mom, my friend’s daughter, also is embarrassed by the father’s behavior, and actually sits some distance away in the stands. My friend has seen eye-rolling and disapproving looks from others and is embarrassed himself at his son-in-law’s carrying on. Mostly, he feels awful for Ben.

We’ve probably all witnessed overly zealous parents at baseball games, swim meets, and any other sports event you care to name, whether it’s competitive or recreational. When I was a kid, I remember one dad yelling at his son to “swing like a boy.” And while most of the other people present find this behavior annoying and rude—sometimes fights even break out in the stands!—the real victim is the child.

It’s ironic that, while the parent is there to cheer the child and his or her team on, it’s the kids who are hurt the most.

The parent may feel sheepish afterward, but it’s the kid who will remember it for a long time. Sometimes a parent’s loud, public criticisms are enough to drive a child away from that sport. Maybe away from all sports. Sometimes it can actually drive a wedge between parent and child that affects their relationship for years.

What motivates a parent to behave in such a reckless way? Does a mom or dad really think they’re helping the child to perform better by criticizing from the cheap seats? Maybe they feel they’re expressing support. Do they think they know more than the coach about what their child should be doing, or what the team should be doing?

I think that in many cases the parent simply sees the child as an extension of themselves and wants to vicariously succeed. Maybe the father wants the son to perform as well in the goal as he did in his youth. Or maybe the mother wants her daughter to be a better point guard than she ever was. Maybe there are dreams of a professional career and lucrative contracts in the future.

Whatever their motivations, these parents fail to realize that they’re not helping. In more extreme cases, like Ben’s dad, they’re hurting and can’t see it.

So, what to do?

Many sports leagues have rules these days for the supporters, and those rules can be enforced by the games’ officials, including ejection. That seems harsh, I know, but it can be appropriate. However, a lot of rec leagues don’t really have enforceable rules and count on parents and others to behave like adults and show some respect for the kids and each other. Sometimes that’s wishful thinking.

In young Ben’s case, I counseled my friend to perhaps discuss the situation with Ben’s mom, pointing out to her how her husband’s behavior is impacting the boy. This would keep my friend out of it and tee the issue up between the parents where it belongs. If the mom could gently explain her observations of the boy’s reactions, which needs to be the focus, maybe the dad could realize the negative impact his “coaching” from the stands was having on their son.

John Barbero

The author has a professional career in technical and business writing, plus a sideline of freelancing on others’ blogs over the last few years covering subjects such as men’s health. He also worked a Congressional campaign in 2016 writing press releases and policy papers. John resides in South Florida and likes to fish whenever he can!

Hey Mama Signing Your Boy Up For Little League, You’re About to Become a Baseball Mom

In: Motherhood, Sports
youth baseball player standing at the fence

Hey mama, I see you’re signing your boy up for Little League, so I feel I should warn you . . . You’re signing up for more than endless sun-beaten hours, sitting on rickety old bleachers at a dust-swept ball field. You’re also signing up for awkward first encounters with new parents. For a backseat full of competitively rowdy (and stinky) boys. RELATED: I Hope You Love Youth Sports As Much As I Did For a pretty penny in shiny new equipment. And for a lifetime supply of OxiClean with a membership to the “Where did you leave your jersey?”...

Keep Reading

Youth Sports Are Ordinary, Which is Why They’ll Always Be Special To Me

In: Living, Sports
girl and father walking to sports

It’s a normal thing, I guess. I’m sure millions of kids around the world play youth sports. Hundreds play in our town alone. Moms and dads pay the fees and rearrange their lives to shuttle their little people around town. They juggle late bedtimes and drive-thru dinners in the name of letting their kids be on a team. Then they watch as their children learn what it feels like to push past their comfort zones. Dads haul chairs to the sidelines while moms tie shoes. Tears are dried, pep talks are given, and attitudes are checked. Volunteer coaches wrangle squirrelly...

Keep Reading

8 Classic Outdoor Games to Take You Back to Your Childhood

In: Fatherhood, Sports

Whew. We’ve made it through the time change (can we just get rid of Daylight Saving Time already?) and spring is officially on its way, which means two things for dads: March Madness is in full swing, and it’s still light enough at the end of the day to get outside and run off some energy with the kids after work. Honestly, we could all use the fresh air and endorphins after a long, cold winter. And sure, you can always kick a ball around together, or shoot some hoops, or even try one of these great ideas for a...

Keep Reading

Here’s to the Unsung Heroes of the Super Bowl

In: Sports

It’s not always about the big stars wearing the jerseys. Sometimes it’s a story about a man from a city in the Rust Belt about to turn 40. A man, who at one point, wondered if he’d make it to 26. My twin brother. We grew up in Saginaw, Michigan with humble parents who, above all else, wanted us to be happy. But at age 25, my twin discovered he had cancer ravaging inside of him. RELATED: We Should All Try to Live Like We Have Cancer He had to fight. And fight, he did. After that victory, that’s where...

Keep Reading

Cheetos Delivers With Super Bowl Commercial That Every Man Can Relate To

In: Sports

“Just tell him it wasn’t you.” That’s the advice Grammy-winning singer Shaggy gives actress Mila Kunis when she’s confronted by husband Ashton Kutcher for stealing his snack in a 2021 Super Bowl ad that every man on the planet can relate to. The Jamaican reggae icon teamed up with the celebrity couple (who are married in real life!) to reprise the singer’s popular single from 2000, “It Wasn’t Me” . . . but with a cheesy twist. Literally. The catchy commercial follows the threesome as they remix Shaggy’s megahit and adapt the lyrics to show Kunis sneaking around the house...

Keep Reading

The World Lost a Giant in Hank Aaron, But His Legacy Lives On

In: Sports

“I never wanted them to forget Babe Ruth. I just wanted them to remember Henry Aaron.” And we do. And we always will. The world lost a giant today. Real-life baseball hero, Hank Aaron, who was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982 by a resounding 97.8% of sportswriters throughout the country, has died at the age of 86. I have ordered flags to fly at half-staff to honor the passing of @Braves legend Hank Aaron. May generations of Georgians continue to be inspired by his groundbreaking career and tremendous impact on our state and nation. #RIPHammer

Keep Reading

Girl Dads, Your Daughters Need Your Help to Rise Above the Haters

In: Sports

Did everyone just forget already? Did we forget the inspiration that Kobe Bryant left for all of the #GirlDads? The untimely and tragic death of Kobe along with his daughter, Gigi, in January, left us in shock. It left many people sickened as a sports legend departed this world too soon. Sometimes through tragedy comes a silver lining—Kobe was heralded for his adoration of his kids. He was a dad to four daughters. As a result, he was a fierce supporter of women’s athletics. His death put a bright spotlight on that part of his life as #GirlDad became a...

Keep Reading

1% Better Every Day—What We Can All Learn From the First Ironman With Down Syndrome

In: Sports

It’s always refreshing to come across a sports story that pulls at the heartstrings and restores your faith in humanity, especially while news headlines can be so bleak and depressing lately. This past Saturday, a very special journey culminated in an incredible triumph that hit us right in the feels. Special Olympics athlete Chris Nikic crossed the finish line of the Ironman Florida competition in Panama City this weekend to become the very first person with Down syndrome to complete an Ironman triathlon. For the record (literally), an Ironman competition consists of a 2.4-mile swim, then a 112-mile bike ride,...

Keep Reading

A Surprise Touchdown at a High School Football Game Shows the Best in Humanity

In: Sports

It’s FALL, y’all, and even COVID can’t keep Friday Night Lights down: most districts in America’s heartland have found a way to keep football games going, even if they aren’t doing in-person school. For the most part, the injection of community spirit that high school football brings has been a real winner, even if there are fewer fans in the stands and they’re all wearing masks. Crisp air, bright lights, and the snap of the pigskin are always special, no matter what. But. You’re about to see what is arguably one of the most uplifting football moments of all time....

Keep Reading

Viral Video Shows Mens’ Hilarious Reactions to Monday Night Football Theme

In: Sports
Husband and Wife

I’ll admit, there aren’t many sounds that could rouse me from a dead sleep or pull me away from a heated game of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, but the theme song for ESPN’s Monday Night Football is definitely one of them. Apparently I’m not the only one. A hilarious trend going around TikTok features women pranking their partners by playing the opening chords of the iconic theme song and filming the reactions. Then someone had the genius idea of compiling the clips into one longer, extra funny video montage. The caption in one of the clips reads, “They say...

Keep Reading

 5 Secrets to Connect with Your Kids


Proven techniques to build REAL connections