Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

The Foundation of Athletics

Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

The Foundation of Athletics

Article excerpt

Call me coach! It's a name I wear proudly. I'd like to share some thoughts with you about your child and sports. After 42 years in athletics in all capacities--coach, athletic director, official, parent, athlete, and observer--I can easily say I have seen, heard or experienced it all. Each experience has helped me gain some insights on youth and interscholastic sports. You are a parent of an exceptional child. Perhaps you have other children. You may be experiencing right now your child's joy, frustration, enthusiasm, success and failure as they begin or continue their sports experience. Hopefully, each month, each article will help you see things in a different light. Your role as a parent is crucial in helping your exceptional child and other children gain some things for their growth that sports at every level should teach. Positive parent participation is wonderful for you, your child and other children and parents involved. Negative participation is destructive for everyone--your child, teammates, parents, official, fans--and this has no place in activities that are supposed to be fun!

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Future columns will discuss all aspects of youth and scholastic sports: parentplayer relationships, coach-parent relationships, official-parent relationships, school athletics, college recruiting, conduct at games and practices and a number of other related topics. In the process, I hope that you will find a few points that may be helpful to you as the parent of a child with special needs, interested in athletics and eager to experience competition, excitement and fun. This month, we'll begin with some values and concepts that are the foundation of what athletics should be bringing to your child's life.

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IF YOU CHOOSE TO PLAY, YOU SHOW UP!

My dad's involvement in my sports activities as a child usually found him sitting in a chair in left field or on the sideline near the end zone. He usually said "Hi Coach," to my coaches at the beginning of the season and "Thanks again Coach," at the end of each season. I knew that he had been an athlete in high school and college. One time, I wasn't exactly happy about having to miss a party because our town football team was practicing. I wanted to go to the party with the other eighth graders. Again, my dad was pretty direct to me. "If you choose to play Tom, you show up!" in that oh, so serious tone. Needless to say I went to practice.

That lesson was an important one. My dad was right. I needed to be at practice. As a parent, you must decide if your child is able to commit the time to join a team. If that decision is "yes," then your child and you must make every effort to insure that he or she be at all practices and games. Some say that "Practice makes Perfect." I prefer "Practice makes Permanent!" Practicing poorly promotes poor play. Not attending practice is not and should never be an option. "If you choose to play, you show up." Parents many times complain about playing time. Sometimes these complaints may be legitimate, other times, not. It's never legitimate if the athlete chooses to skip practice or chooses to show up when it's convenient.

Sometimes athletes miss games. Injuries, emergencies, family problems ... things happen.

Family vacations during the season sometimes play havoc with scheduled practices and games. As a high school basketball coach, I used to deal with this each holiday season. Some insisted that they had to go on vacation for a variety of reasons. Even though every player and family knew the schedule, knew the expectations and had agreed to be there, inevitably there were those who wanted this vacation time. Some parents felt that the player should have his starting job right there waiting for him when he returned from the trip to Florida or some other warm destination. If the player was a starter, I used to tell the story about Wally Pipp. Wally was the starting first baseman for the New York Yankees back in the 1920's. …

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