Old sayings have merit. If they didn’t, people would have stopped repeating them long before they became old sayings.
And the adage that every youth sports coach wants to coach a team full of orphans is certainly grounded in some truth.
Yes, parents can appear to be schizophrenic at times, like the mom who would give her daughter a kiss and say, “have fun,” then when the whistle blew she went totally mental. Or the seemingly well-adjusted dad who brings his kid to tears on a regular basis.
The reason that the saying about orphans has been around so long is that every time a parent acts up on the sideline, we remember. When they bombard you with complaints about positions, style of play, or theories on how their child should be used, it’s not easy to forget. When they openly bash another player on the team, you get disgusted. When they scream at the ref when they couldn’t be more wrong about the call, it’s embarrassing. When they provide their child with alternatives (wrong) ways to play, your job just got a lot harder.
But the good things they do are often forgotten or overlooked.
Have you ever had a well-oiled parent group that seems to morph into the army corps of engineers in a matter of minutes. Have you ever showed up to a game in scorching hot weather and find a tent city and a huge cooler full of water bottles on ice at your bench? Have you ever had a very quick turnaround between games at a tournament and discovered a buffet of fruit, energy bars and drinks waiting in the shade? Have you ever had an 8 am game in February where the 30-degree temperatures are raised by the portable kerosene heater and blankets that magically appeared at your bench?
There has to be a reason why parents can behave both ways. One of the reasons is that they feel helpless. During games, all coaches have had that same feeling, that uneasiness when you discover you can’t have an impact on the game. Think how the parents must feel. Parents want to help their child. When they don’t see an immediate way to do that, they will look for one.
If there was some great advice to give to solve this problem, it would be an old saying by now. So in the absence of an old saying, think about this: Marcus Rashford, a 20-year-old Manchester United player, sent a tweet after he was named to England’s 23-man roster for the 2018 World Cup. It said, “After years of you standing on the touch line in the cold and rain, Mum we're off to the World Cup!”
Is that the way your child will remember this time with you?