Coach --"What is your best Laxhole Parent Story?"
I went into this fall ball lacrosse season with a spring in my step and a new mission to add (besides chauffeur, sherpa, equipment manager, highlight cameraman, and getter of food and drink). The role of observer of sidelines and collector of stories. It has opened my eyes and allowed me to see what an entertaining group we are---the Laxholes.
Sure enough, the sport was on display during an unseasonably warm weekend of fall ball lacrosse. The calls for warding and slashing welcomed us to the complex.
I got a late start on asking coaches my question of the week "What is your best Laxhole Parent Story?". But between games, I found a really great coach who was hanging out and relaxing before his next game. He coaches for a fantastic club---an excellent developmental program that is the backbone for many colleges across the country. I asked him the question---and, at first, I think he was reluctant to answer.
His story came from high school coaching. He said that a parent with a Cusp Player finally had enough of Junior not getting the play time they felt he deserved. This parent had enough, and came storming onto the field after the game looking to fight the coaches about Junior's time on the field. It got so heated that Security had to come and stop the screaming, shoving, and swinging dad, and escort him from the field. It was serious and probably a bit frightening (and embarrassing) for all involved. As the coach explained, in a competitive league, there is no longer the luxury to split time evenly between the kids that will help a team succeed and those who don't.
It is almost impossible to see your own child objectively. This is one reason why we have coaches in the first place, most of whom have two competing missions---to make your child the best they can be, and to win games for their school, club or business. Some rarely get to the first part of their mission. Parents want the best for their child, and they tend to "Over-Advocate". I do it myself, and hear other parents do it all the time. Most clubs don't have time to teach anymore, at least at a positional level.
I've had many sideline discussions with parents about game playtime and complaints about the ball-hogs and flashy kids who are above their kids on the depth chart. There is an irrational expectation that with effort comes an entitlement to time played. Outside of rec ball, this is a lesson that is hard for most to really internalize. There is no right to play, even if you are paying thousands of dollars a year on teams, coaches, and clinics. And I think to teach a child to expect to play without earning their spot (and time) does them a huge disservice. Coaches favor players who help them win (unless they have a kid on the team, but that is a different story).
For the brawling parent, I'll bet that the explosive "fight" was the culmination of years of over-advocating. I'm sure that there had been phone calls, sideline chats, discussions with clinic coaches, extra drills at home, long lectures in the car....but Junior was still not getting in the game enough. Maybe Junior worked hard. Maybe he was doing everything he should with conditioning and wall ball, and the parents were paying for clinics and extra sessions. But, in the end, he was missing whatever the team needed to succeed with him on the field.
Brett Favre said, "Most talented players don't always succeed. Some don't even make the team. It's more what's inside."
In the end, I would bet that Junior's self-image hadn't been helped by screaming and fighting Laxhole Dad, and is more likely to quit the team or the sport than a kid that has developed an ability to be objective and self-advocate for more roles.
We need to help our kids understand that their efforts do pay off, and occasionally we do have to move them to teams more suited to their play level. But to think that a coach just can't see your child's potential, or that it's unfair to not play them in games, is simply delusional. Take it from me---a Laxhole Parent.