Posts Tagged With: parenting

‘Trophy Kids’ Highlights What’s Wrong With Youth Sports

trophy-kidsWatching the 2013 HBO documentary Trophy Kids (now on Netflix) took me back to my daughter’s 8th grade year of basketball cheer when I sat in the stands amazed at the behavior of my peers.

The basketball team was good — some of the parents — not so much. Many jeered, chided and demeaned the referees and, the way some behaved, I thought they would lose money if the team lost.

But their actions pale in comparison to parents in this documentary.

The movie follows the careers of an under-10 female golf prodigy, junior high male twin tennis stars, a high school football player and two male high school basketball stars. The film includes enough action clips to showcase just how highly skilled these young athletes are, but the real story is about the parents and how they treat the children.

All of the parents have pinned their hopes — and elements of their own unlived lives — on the backs of these young stars. Although the parental approach is different for each, ranging from a faith that God will deliver the win to a over-reliance on supplements and regimen, each parent pushes their child to do more — to reach that elusive ‘next level’ of competition.

For some parents, the ultimate goal is a free ride to a D-I college or university via a scholarship.

The athletes’ stories build slowly as their ups and downs are chronicle — and there is compelling collateral damage along the way — injuries as well as fights between parents, kids and coaches. An interview, near the end of the film, with a high school basketball coach is eye-opening as he explains what is wrong with today’s parents.

After viewing this movie you will no longer need to ponder how high school sports devolved into its current state of affairs. These parents give you an inside view of the mindset that has overtaken youth sports which will quite possibly leave you feeling like one online reviewer who wrote,

“Rarely have I been angrier than when I watched this documentary.”

Rated 5 out of 5. The movie moves at a fast clip — highlighting the athletic prowess of the athletes while showcasing the obsessive behavior of parents living vicariously through their children.

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How One Decision My Dad Made Changed My Life

13458694463_103e1e9173_oMy earliest memories of my father (who would have been 84 today) are when I was four. We had moved in with his parents after his father, Charlie L. suffered a stroke. Mom went to work at a shirt factory in nearby Clinton County, Kentucky while Dad stayed home to ‘run the house’ for his parents.

In my first memory, I am sitting in the grass while Dad hoed in the small garden at the foot of the hill. All of the sudden, Dad said, “Don’t move.” He then proceeded to kill a copperhead snake slithering in the grass near me. I remember Dad showing off his kill to his sister, Anna, who lived a mile or so away and there was even talk of getting a photograph with the local newspaper. Oddly, enough, I do not remember seeing the snake — so I have no idea if it was photo worthy.

The second memory of my father is not as flattering.

It occurred around the same time and took place inside his mother’s kitchen. In this memory, my father is pouring each of his three children (my youngest sister had not been born yet) a shot of alcohol. Since I was four, my older brother and sister were 8 and 6, respectively.

I remember the incident well because of his mother’s reaction — her anger and irritation as she told her son not to give us the drink.

“Ah, it won’t hurt ’em,” Dad said.

Alcohol was a big part of my father’s life then, but it did not start out that way. In his early 20s, Dad volunteered to serve in the Korean War. When he left home, he was a well-respected, likeable young man who had never drank alcohol. Something he experienced during his war service dramatically changed him and when he returned home a few years later, he — by his own admission — drank too much.

And by the time I took that drink as a four-year-old boy, my father had been arrested for public intoxication, driving under the influence, been questioned about receiving stolen property — and had spent more than one night in the Cumberland County jail. In the years leading up to my birth his drinking escalated to the point that it almost destroyed his marriage.

But within a year of my first drink, my father had quit drinking altogether. It took the death of a co-worker and the near-death of a drinking buddy to change Dad’s life view. Of course, I was too young to understand the implications of his decision, but it changed the direction of my life — being the son of a former heavy drinker is vastly different than being the son of a heavy drinker.

It was the greatest gift he ever gave me.

Categories: Family History | Tags: , , , , , , ,