I currently participate in my children’s sports either as a coach or a spectator. For most of the year I was so impressed with the way parental behaviour had improved since I was a kid. I still remember my under 10s coach walking onto the field to take over the umpiring because he had abused the umpire to such a degree that the umpire walked off.
I thought those days were done. However on the weekend I observed an opposition coach at my daughter’s netball game publicly sanction behaviour of her under 8 girls that caused one of our girls to cry. I also saw the opposition coach at the under 8 football match tell one of my players off for trying to tackle and told my son off for talking to much (which I can understand can be true!) when the golden rule as a coach is that you never talk to opposition kids unless it is to clap something they did well.
I thought to myself – what motivates someone to get so intense at under 8s sports that the need to be so competitive and insecure? Does it really feed their insecurities to win a junior game of sport? Is their personal need to win greater than the opportunity to allow kids to enjoy playing, competing and learning? Is their personal need to win at the game they love more important than encouraging future generations of kids to share their love for the game?
To me unless you have a chance to make it at the big time, then sport for kids about enjoying the challenge of learning, building relationships, learning about discipline and commitment, building resilience and being healthy. Maybe some of these parents need to realise it’s not about you guys it’s about your kids.
Apply this to your workplace – are you being a constructive leader and coach for your peers? Don’t underestimate the impact that competitive and oppositional styles have on your team. Although a level of drive and competiveness is important in situations where you need to perform, there needs to be a balance of this and perspective given. Otherwise it’s likely that you’re preventing a high performance culture within the workplace, shadowing the bigger picture outcomes that you’re actually trying to achieve. Let your staff enjoy the challenge of learning, building relationships, learning discipline and commitment, building resilience and being healthy overall, just as these parents and coaches should be with their children.