It saddens me to say that parents are seen by sporting clubs as “Customers” and in business the mantra is that the “Customers are always right”. Clubs are forced into running clubs like businesses in order to survive and the notion that clubs can forego fees is a nonsense.
Football and sporting clubs in general are finding it tougher to operate as a result of ever increasing costs. Finding a balance between providing a community service and keeping fees affordable is a never ending juggling act. Take the “R” out of FREE and you get FEE. Clubs simply cannot afford to operate without members paying their fees.
The need for clubs to maintain membership levels has seen an increase in parent power in that club committees are often having to appease parent demands. In many if not most cases one could be forgiven for thinking that the committee’s run clubs. The pressure on clubs is such that often parents are seen as always right.
Most sporting clubs I am sure experience similar issues when dealing with parents but I will comment only on my experiences with football clubs in this article.
Most Football clubs try and cater for players be they social or ambitious. They make every effort to grade players into groups of similar ability to provide challenges that will in turn help players develop into the best that they can be.
Trials are held at most clubs and the competition is fierce, sadly more so amongst the parents than the players themselves. It is most disturbing that so much pressure is placed upon players as young as 10 to get into development programs at clubs.
Once a youngster is selected in a team at a club and fees are paid, on occasions even when fees are not paid, the parental demands start. It is now all about equal playing time, who the coach is, why didn’t the player make the State team, and the most disturbing is when parents tell clubs, “I pay a lot of money here, why is it my son/daughter is not being identified for representative honours”.
It is becoming very evident that there is a feeling of entitlement by parents which is being reflected on to players. This must stop! We are not helping youngsters when we as parents continually harass coaches about technical matters we know very little about.
Regrettably I feel that it is a cultural thing and it all starts when our kids go to kindergarten and it continues throughout junior and high school.
Every year regardless of how well a child performs at school he/she automatically goes up a grade. The reason given is that they don’t want kids to lose confidence so it is important for them to stay with their friends. I will bet anyone London to a Brick that parents of children who excel would not want their child to be slowed down by others who do not put in the same effort.
This is how the “Entitlement” issue arises. It’s what these kids have grown accustomed to. It’s not about “Earning” rewards for hard work and achievement as it should be.
What happens to these kids when all of a sudden they have to compete to get into university, or a win trade apprenticeship? What happens when these kids become young adults and are not geared to deal with failures? How will they cope with not getting that job?
We do our kids no favours fighting their battles for them. We need to be encouraging them to give of their best at everything they do. We need to guide them and support them when things don’t go as they expect, but do not build them up to be something they are not!
As parents we all want the very best for our kids but we must be realists. Our little boy/girl will not be the best at everything that they do.
Participating in a team sport is about learning how to contribute and like in life there will be those who are better at some things than others.
Equal playing time in a sporting team is certainly available in clubs with social teams where playing is purely for fun. If it’s equal playing time a parent wants for their children then place them accordingly.
Equal playing time is not for players with ambitions to play for State teams or those who aspire to become professionals. These players must be challenged, must be determined, their focus on success must be greater than their fear to fail. They must be prepared to attend all games and training sessions. They must be solely focussed on their objective. If playing for the club is not their sole priority then elite football is not for them.
I appeal to parents to encourage their kids to first learn to love the game they play, then allow them to test themselves against others and find their level without any pressure.
Coaches will identify talent and no amount of energy by parents promoting their offspring beyond their capabilities will ever alter that. It is not fair to place a youngster in a situation which is beyond him/her.
Take it from me, there is no coach anywhere who will discard a talented player, and unlike in business, in football the parent is not always right.