COURTSIDE WITH COACH EDMONDS: Time out! Parents need to check their behavior during athletic contests

Keith Edmonds is a 32-year veteran of teaching and school administration from Fort Wayne. He coached boys high school basketball as an assistant at Snider High School, North Side High School and was the head boys basketball coach at Elmhurst High School for 12 years, advancing to the Class 3A State championship in 2003.

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Have you ever seen one side of a person suddenly change completely right in front of you? If not, then you haven’t seen how fans, parents and students act when they are at a sporting event.

Athletics is a beast that roars loudly in the lives of those that are in competition and even more so in the lives of those that provide support for young people. Something happens to even the most docile of fans when the lights come on and they start keeping score of an athletic contest; they figuratively go nuts.

When I was growing up, sports were there to teach us integrity, teamwork and the pure love of competition. It was there to teach us and help us understand that when you get knocked down, you’ve got to get back up. When you don’t get the whistle, you’ve got to overcome that particular adversity and move on. Today’s parents don’t teach that enough. They want to win at all costs, and unfortunately, they will behave deplorably at all costs too.

If you’re so good at foul selection, if you’re as great as an official even though you’re sitting down in the shade or in the stands, drinking your drink and eating your food, then go get your certification. Go show the world how great of an official you are. I can guarantee you, when the pressure is on and when you’re in the middle of a highly competitive game – having to make a controversial decision in 103 degrees or after 32 minutes of play – or until you put that striped uniform on and drape that whistle around your neck, you have no idea what these men and women who officiate athletic contests have to endure.

I have seen parents yell (YELL) at their 6 (yes 6) year old kids for making mistakes or yell at officials or other parents during athletic contests so much so that you leave that contest talking more about that parent than what occurred during the game. In many ways, evident by the manner in which parents behave at competitive events, the world of parenting has become selfish and primarily self-serving. Every mom and dad wants his or her child to be the star.

Parents are pushing harder than ever to get their kids to the top of some imaginary ladder, but the rungs are being pulled out from under the kids as they climb. And in the end, it only serves to motivate kids to quit. I have seen this first-hand – and so have many of you – during AAU events when a particular team is playing and their “support” system shows up. Officials already know what to expect and fans from the opposing teams do as well: complete unadulterated CHAOS!  

Parents, please listen. When you pull your child off of the court or field and stomp away, yelling at a coach or teacher – or even worse – a volunteer who is working with your child, because you have some type of unrealistic expectation of them, you embarrass your child. No child wants to be known as the one with the psycho mom or dad who only sees their child and could care less of the others. Do us a favor, take a time out.

Listen, I am all for athletics. Having your child be a part of a sports team is a tremendous thing and one that I applaud. The problem that I have is parents that live vicariously through their kids and want them to fulfill their unfinished dream of being the superstar athlete. All this does is put undue pressure on them and to be quite honest, it makes your child want to quit. So again I say take a time out. Enjoy the fact that your child is in athletics and support them in the right way for the sake of them and those of us that sit around you.

Courtside with Coach Edmonds will appear every Monday during the prep basketball season at Outside the Huddle. These opinions represent those of the writer. No opinions expressed on Outside the Huddle represent those of any of our advertisers. 

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