A few weeks ago, I presented some hypothetical sports parenting situations to you, and I asked listeners to my radio show for their thoughts and opinions. One of the common themes in these “hypotheticals” — which, by the way, are all based upon real-life situations – -is the concept of accountability. And the truth is, in a world of increasingly complicated sports parenting issues, it’s harder than ever to try and teach your son or daughter to be accountable and to do the right thing.
And sometimes, it’s even harder for the parent to do the right thing as well.
So, with that being said, how would you handle this hypothetical?
WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF….
You’re watching a HS varsity football game, and your son is playing in the game as a wide receiver.
It’s been a chippy game, and the refs have been busy trying to maintain law and order throughout the contest.
But on one play early in the third quarter, in which there’s a play that takes place across the field, your son – who is clearly far away from the play – gets blindsided by an opposing linebacker. There was no need for the hit. It was clearly unnecessary. In any event, your son is very slow to get up. He does get to his feet, he wobbles a bit, and then falls back to the turf. Time is called, and he is helped off the field by the team trainer.
There is no flag on the play because everybody’s attention was drawn to the action on the other side of the field. And yet — because you watch your son on every play — you know without a doubt that the opposing linebacker pulled a cheap shot on your son – a real unnecessary blindside shot — and that player didn’t get caught by the refs.
From your perspective, the refs not only should have called a penalty, but should have also disqualified that linebacker.
Your son does not come back into the game. He is held out for concussion protocol. After the game, he is okay, but clearly still shaken up by the unprovoked hit.
As a parent, what do you do? There are several pathways to consider. Should you say anything to your son’s coach after the game? Should you approach the opposing head coach? How about the kid who levelled the unnecessary hit? Should you find him and confront him?
Or do you corral the officials who worked the game, and ask them why they didn’t see the play and throw a flag?
Or do you find your school’s athletic director and file a formal complaint about the play? Do you consider filing a lawsuit?
Do you contact the police for assault and battery on your kid?
Or do you say nothing at all? That is, take the approach that it’s just part of the game and be grateful that your kid is seemingly going to be okay.
We had a lot of calls this AM and almost all of them agreed that, as an angry sports parent, they had a great urge to confront the opposing player after the game and get in his face. Or, to get in the face of the opposing coach right after the game. Some callers suggested they would confront the refs who worked the game, demanding how they could have missed such an egregious foul?
But after awhile, cooler heads started to chime in. That is, although many of us would like to have an immediate confrontation and punishment for that player, the adult and civil thing to do is to address your school’s athletic director, tell him or her how angry you are, ask to make sure the game film can be viewed the next day, and that you would like punitive action to be taken by the opposing AD on that kid.
Of course, some listeners weren’t satisfied with this kind of approach, but I tried to remind them that immediate confrontation would follow in the path of “two wrongs don’t make a right.” And I was heartened to hear other callers agree with that.
But let me back up for a moment. All sports parents know that in any sporting competition, there’s always a chance your youngster can get hurt. That’s just an assumption of the risk of playing sports. But when your kid is hurt deliberately, that’s when parents see red and want immediate retribution. That’s an understandable and very human emotion to protect our kids.
But of course, that is not acceptable in our society, and rightfully so. Your first priority is to take care of your kid. You can work with the proper authorities, such as the AD and even perhaps the police, later on.
I fully understand that at the time of the incident, you want to take immediate and presumably harsh action. But I urge you….DO NOT give into your anger. As I often say, someone has to be the adult here. And that someone should be you.