Don’ts for Sport Parents by Jim Taylor

Two sport writers to follow include John O’Sullivan (coming to the AOA Fall Education Summit Nov 3-4) and Dr. Jim Taylor who writes about Don’t for Sport Parents in this weeks newsletter.

Some time ago, I shared with you my list of Dos for Sport Parents. In general, I much prefer to focus on the positives of behavior and, in that article, emphasized what parents can do to help their young athletes achieve their goals and have a great experience in their sport.

At the same time, the reality is that many parents don’t always do the right thing for their children (despite the best of intentions). In these cases, I’ve always found it helpful to also describe what I consider to be the wrong things to do because it creates awareness and acts as a boundary of what is healthy and appropriate behavior.

I have provided below what I believe you don’t want to do with yourself, other parents, coaches, and especially your children. Your goal? At the end of the sports season, you’ll still be in the running for Sport Parent of the Year (no such award, actually, but I could feel some of you gearing up for the ceremony) or, at a minimum, keep you and your young athletes on good terms throughout the season.


  1. Base your self-esteem and ego on your children’s success in their sport. If you place the weight of your self-worth on your children’s shoulders, you are putting a crushing weight on them that will pretty much guarantee either failure or profound unhappiness (or both). Of course, you’ll also be profoundly unhappy because your children failed to make you feel good about yourself (not their job, of course). If you don’t have other parts of your life (e.g., marriage, career, avocations) that give you good feelings and ego gratification, I have three words for you: GET A LIFE!
  2. Care too much about how your children perform. The reality is that the chances of your children becoming great athletes are statistically infinitesimal, so caring too much about results will only make you and them miserable.
  3. Lose perspective about the importance of your children’s sports participation. Another reality is that, in the grand scheme of things, sport is pretty darned unimportant. That’s not to say that it isn’t without its value. To the contrary, sport is wonderful for its fun, physical benefits, and ability to teach essential life skills. But when you lose sight of what’s important, your children don’t get any of the benefits and suffer its many costs.


  1. Make enemies of other parents. If your children stay involved in sports for years to come, you’ll be seeing the same parents every weekend for the next decade or more. Of course, you’ll come across some parents who aren’t your cup of tea and there are going to be ill feelings and conflicts along the way. But it’s just not fun to be around people with whom you don’t get along. Plus, your children will feel the vibe and it will detract from their enjoyment. My motto with other parents is: “Be kind, be accepting, be grown up!”…read the full article here>>