In Parents' Role in Youth Sports, Problems in Youth Sports

I’m writing this letter because I’m too afraid to talk to you in person. I’m terrified that if I really tell you how I’m really feeling you will get mad at or be disappointed in me. When you do that I just want to crawl under a rock and disappear. I only want you to be proud of me. I only want you to love me the way that I love you. But I can’t take this any longer. I have to tell you this now, even if you won’t speak to me for the next three weeks the way you’ve done in the past when I’ve disappointed you.

So here goes: I hate (tennis; soccer; softball; gymnastics; skating; etc.)! I really hate it.

I haven’t had fun in so long I can’t even remember. I am only playing now because you want me to. I only go to practice because I know that if I don’t you’ll be really pissed at me. I don’t feel like this sport is mine anymore. It seems like you’re into it far more than me! I don’t want the pressure any more. I don’t want to put in all the hours. I don’t like working with this coach. I’m just not having any fun anymore.

I know that if I told you this, and I have in the past, you just wouldn’t listen to me. You’d tell me things like “playing is good for you,” “You’ll regret it your whole life if you quit,” “You’re just not trying hard enough!” Please listen to me! I don’t want to do this anymore! I hate it and I hate you for making me!

After practice and lessons you never leave me alone. You always want to know why I didn’t do this right, why I didn’t try harder in that situation, why I spent so much time goofing off. You never let me forget how much time and energy you’re putting into the sport for me. You continue to remind me how much money you’re spending on me. Every time we talk about this I feel guilty and bad. I’m sure you don’t mean for me to feel so terrible about myself but I do! I feel like I’m letting you guys down because I don’t want to do this anymore.

I hate when you criticize my playing. I hate after games when you tell me all the things I did wrong. Your comments never help me. They leave me feeling even worse about myself. They make me hate you and me! Please, please listen to me! Listen to what I am not saying! Can’t you see how unhappy I am having to do this sport? Don’t you care about me? I am begging you to let me stop. Let me play a sport that I want to play, just for ME! And when I do stop playing this sport, please, please don’t call me a QUITTER! Don’t tell me that I will always quit everything else I try if I quit now! That only makes me feel even worse about myself.

And while we’re being honest here, can you do me one small favor? Can you periodically tell me how much you love me just for being me. Please don’t connect whether I’m lovable to how well I do my tumbling pass, what place I come in in my 100 Free or whether I finally land my double axle. I desperately need you to love me more than anything else in the world. I need you to be proud of me and believe in me. Can you do all of this and please leave my sport out of it?



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