A veteran coach once told me: "High school sports would be wonderful--without parents."
Unfortunately, from a biological standpoint, no one has figured out how to keep parents out of the equation.
Parents have an important role to play in high school sports. They should support their son or daughter and their school program, emotionally and financially. They mean more than a ride to the gym.
But in the last 10 to 20 years, since the rise of AAU and club competition and increased scholarships for boys and girls sports, parents have climbed over the edge.
They no longer are satisfied to be cheerleaders. After watching Dick Vitale and John Madden on television, they think they know more than the coaches and the officials. And they aren't afraid to say so.
Today, there is a crisis in officiating. The old-timers are retiring and they aren't being replaced by good, young and qualified officials because the newcomers don't want to be hassled. The pay isn't worth the stress.
Coaches feel the pressure, too. Many insist coaching isn't fun anymore. How many 30-year veterans are still coaching? Many choose to get out of coaching after fewer than 10 years because they say they aren't supported by administrators. Instead, they argue, the parents are running the asylum.
Parents complain if their children don't get their names in the newspaper or if they aren't named to an all-area team. They blame coaches if their son, a 5-8, 200-pound lineman, is named to an all-conference team but isn't recruited by a Division I college.
It is expected that parents should do everything possible to encourage and nurture their children's development and participation in sports. If you can afford it, hire personal trainers and send them to speed camps, summer camps and instructional camps.
But when they step on the playing field, let the coach do the coaching and let your kid play the game. Let them enjoy the experience. If he or she is good enough, someone will discover them. Remember, no matter how good they are, the odds are slim that they will ever be a professional athlete.
The experience of athletic competition teaches valuable life lessons--discipline, motivation, dedication, determination, sacrifice--that will serve them well in the real world, when the ball stops bouncing.