The Official Student Voice of Copper Hills High School

The Grizzly Growl

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When Parents get too Involved in High School Sports

Art by Alexis Hilton

Art by Alexis Hilton

Portia Price, Sports Editor

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There’s tension in the stands as the game pushes forward. Eyes narrow and resentful lines draw on a parent’s face when their kid gets sent to the bench, once again. Every little decision made by a coach is meticulously analyzed and critiqued by a parent with a problem. Parental pressures on coaches have never been greater.

Joel Sundquist, head baseball coach notes, “It’s important that parents have clear boundaries and a good understanding of our roles to prevent conflict from even happening.”

There are a lot of things that parents and coaches disagree upon, but the most common is playing time. Tons of money, time, effort, and resources go into high school sports. It’s a huge commitment to give a whole season of your time to a team for everyday practices and games. Plus, Jordan School District has the highest participation fee in the state at $175. Additionally, optional fees can range anywhere from zero to $830. With a payment so high, some parents are disappointed and angered to see this money whirl down the drain when their athlete doesn’t even play. Often times, mothers and fathers think that payment is parallel to playing time, but all coaches will tell you that these student-athletes aren’t entitled to anything on the field, they have to earn it. Most conflicts stem from demanding parents that think their athletes are good enough to have a starting spot. Moms and dads have an unshakable, undeniable faith in the skills of their child, and they honestly believe that no matter what the circumstances are, their athlete should be in the game. It’s no secret that parents want what’s best for their kid, while coaches want what’s best for the team. Jake Timpson, the girl’s golf coach and assistant girls basketball coach adds, “Usually the best way to handle those types of issues is to have open communication with the parent and the player. Make sure they understand that as a coach it is your job to do what’s best for the team.”

Another complication coaches come in contact with is comparison between teammates. Parents sometimes measure playing time and overall skill with other players on the team, and always think that their kid is better than everyone else. Sundquist continues, “Teammates are one thing I’ll never talk about with parents. A lot of times, I’ll walk away or tell them to worry about their own kid.”

With a team that spends their season struggling, the blame and parental pressure can fall on the leader. No coach sets out to purposely lose, they are likely just as competitive as the athletes, if not more. Although a losing season is disappointing, a lot of coaches see it as a learning opportunity. An unsuccessful season is still successful, and it can show a lot of growth throughout the team and the program.

Unresolved disputes between a parent and a coach can possibly jeopardize the relationship between the coach and the student. Encounters can become awkward and uncomfortable. Timpson adds, “Conflicts can damage a player and coach relationship. Hopefully through good communication those issues can be worked out, but sometimes parents get in the heads of their athlete, and both of them turn on the coach and choose to leave the team.”

Although every coach can sense the fire of a heated parent, a majority of our athletic supporters are amazing. Most of the time parents are great and we appreciate all they do for their athletes and the programs at Copper Hills.

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