How to Not Let Crazy Sports Parents Get to You

Every sports parent I talk to has a story about another crazy sports parent who acts up before, during or after a game. Or maybe all three of those times.

There’s plenty of nuttiness going around in youth sports these days. But if you consider yourself one of the sane ones, how can you avoid the toxicity? How do you not become tainted by the negativity?

I’ve been a sports mom for 22 years. Here’s how I managed to survive without letting it turn me into a crazy person.

Stay Away From Sympathy Groups

These are parents who meet during or after games to rehash, criticize and commiserate. They are toxic. Stay away. Either walk away when they become negative or tactfully change the trajectory of the conversation. Whatever you do, don’t stand there and listen. It will only make you mad.

Avoid Parent Clumps

Actually, I did this more than occasionally—I did it most of the time. In basketball, my husband and I had our upper left corner of the gym, away from the fray.

In softball, when my husband coached, I often sat alone near the outfield. I was not going to listen to them bash the coach and spew garbage to their kids.

In football, I merely tried to sit in friendly territory, either with other coach’s wives or family and friends who I knew to be sane.

Turn Down the Volume

Unfortunately, no matter how hard you try to avoid negativity, you will sometimes still hear and observe it. When that happens, you can choose to turn down volume of whomever is spewing it.

My husband does this all the time with a verbally abusive father who very often demeans and harshly criticizes him. He pictures himself turning down a volume button and tuning this dad out when the dad goes on a rampage.

If you’re surrounded and can’t get away from the toxic noise, tune it out.

Or, Turn Up the Volume

Turning down the volume doesn’t work unless you find something else to fill the silence. Alternatively, try turning up the volume of thoughts that focus on the bigger picture of youth sports. It is not about the trophies and awards. It is not about that elusive college scholarship. It is about the person that your child becomes in the process. If you can keep your focus on that, you will survive youth sports without a scratch.

Janis B. Meredith, sports mom and coach’s wife, writes a sports parenting blog called Her new book, 11 Habits for Happy and Positive Sports Parents, is on Amazon.

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