I was sitting with one of my granddaughters last week, watching one of her siblings play basketball. Behind us was a dad who yelled at his son the entire game. He was mostly encouraging, but called constantly to his son to give him tips and encourage him to “take it to the rim.” This dad never let up. He yelled The. Entire. Game.

The week before, I had been at a different game, again involving a grandchild. It wasn’t a particularly pretty game. The officials were doing a good job, stopping for teaching moments along the way. I happen to know both officials quite well.

They are good men and were taking their Saturday mornings to help out. It would have been impossible to call every foul and whistle every infraction. We would have been there all day.

Sometime late in the game, the coach for one team was absolutely certain that his best player had been fouled. He screamed and gestured in a manner that would have made Bobby Knight proud. I didn’t know him from Adam but I was embarrassed.

Last week I worked a high school basketball game. It was highly competitive and came down to a last second shot but along the way, the visiting team was hit with 5 technical fouls, their best player was ejected, and one of their fans was escorted from the gym.

Here’s what I observed: Their students, fans, parents, and school staff members spent the entire game screaming at the officials and the home team. Yelling obscenities, making hand gestures and generally being out of control. No one should be surprised that the players on the court demonstrated such bad behavior. They were surrounded by it.

At some time, school administrators for that school should have stepped in and taken control of the student section. They didn’t. For all I know, they were part of it. I actually saw a teacher join the students at one point. Adults should know better.

Most of my sideline work is at football and baseball, where you are insulated from the comments of parents and fans. I will have a hard time if I eventually retire. I won’t be able to sit in the stands. When (not if) somebody says something about somebody’s kid or one of the coaches … well … I’m not sure what I will do but it won’t be pretty.

That dad needs to let his kid play. He needs to let him be coached and be part of the team. His kid was really good, but that is no excuse. After the game, I saw the kid sobbing uncontrollably. I can only speculate why.

That coach needs to just calm down. He will find as he gets older (and wiser) that it isn’t that important. He will find that it’s far more important for his kids to develop motor skills, to learn how to be a good teammate, to understand what it is to be coachable.

He was probably the dad of one of the players on the team. I know it is hard to find coaches. Heck, the first full soccer game I saw, I coached.

They for sure couldn’t find anyone better. But best case scenario is for a non-parent to coach those teams. Yeah, I know how hard, if not impossible, that is.

Do your job as a parent. Show love. Teach. Encourage. Support. Wipe the tears. Don’t make excuses nor allow excuses. Your child’s future depends on it. In life and in athletics.

Joe Black, PT, DPT, SCS, ATC is a physical therapist and athletic trainer at Total Rehabilitation and is Manager of Outpatient Rehabilitation for Blount Memorial Hospital. Email joeblackdpt@gmail.com to write to him.

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