Do you know this guy?

He screams at the coach, the officials, the opponents, the other team members.  He's about as fun as a swarm of mosquitoes. He likes to brag about how his kid will be going to basketball camp in Boston this fall, where he'll get to meet Larry Bid.  Yeah, that Larry Bird. He doesn't seem to be aware of the 10 foot invisible barrier he has, and how nobody EVER initiates a conversation with him.  Let's call him Mr. Rob Noxious.

Don't get me wrong. Parents should be proud of the children.  They should celebrate their achievements.  They should push them toward excellence in all that they do.  These are all valuable intentions and admirable goals.  A shot of tequila can be fun too, but a whole bottle can quickly turn into a nightmarish episode leaving you wondering how you ended up with I love hotdogs tattooed on your buns.

SO, back to Mr. Rob Noxious.  Just like the tequila tatoo situation, he's probably not even aware of the foolish decisions he's making. It may be tempting just to wait him out.  Try to survive until the end of the season and hope you don't un into him next year.  The problem is, that he'll still be at every game this year, embarrassing you and other parents in front of your opponents.  And if nobody steps in front of this charging rhinoceros, he's going to keep blustering and wreaking havoc on every future endeavor he and his kid attempt.

I get it.  Not many people enjoy conflict.  And by what authority do you think that you should offer criticism? I mean, you don't want this guy giving you parenting advice, right? Keeping those things in mind, I have compiled the following list.

How to Confront an Obsessive Parent Without Getting Your Head Bitten Off:

  1. Find a neutral setting. Maybe you can run into him at the grocery store.  Maybe at Dairy Queen after the game. Being out of the battlefield will hopeful bring in a modicum of rationality. 
  2. There's strength in numbers. this one is touchy.  Know that you have the support of other parents.  Use that to keep your confidence.  Maybe you and one other hold the intervention, maybe just you.  You don't want to make this an ambush, at least not right away.  Start of with presenting in as your own issue.  If things go well, super!  If not, then start to bring in reinforcements. "It's not just me, Freddie's dad has been thinking about taking Freddie off the team."  As a last result, resort to the ambush. "Dude, we all think you're a bit nuts, and if you don't cool down a bit, we're going to cancel the season."
  3. Appeal to his ego. If no rationale position is being accepted, you may have to take a trip to Wonderland. "Rob, we are so lucky to have such a mastermind of basketball in our presence. Obviously, nobody can see the things you can. I'm just wondering, maybe you are just too intimidating.  The coach and the refs don't want to acknowledge you because you're right. Why don't you try something  a little more subtle, and you might be more effective." Try to keep the sarcasm subtle.
  4. Appeal to his humanity.  It's about the kids.  It has to be.  He may just need to be reminded of that.  "Rob, I know you love your boy, he's a great kid.  So are Sam and Freddie and George.  The thing is, they may not be superstars like Rob Jr., but this is all they got.  They just want to have some fun, and with you yelling all the time, they're not enjoying themselves out there.  So, do you think you could turn down the volume, for the kid's sake?"
  5. Be patient. You might not have any results immediately.  But perhaps, even though it didn't seem like Mr. Rob Noxious was listening, something hit a nerve.  Let it sink in a little.  And maybe, just maybe, like the ocean wears away rocky shores, you'll begin to see a little softening.
  6. Avoid the following: taking things personally, insults, getting into a yelling match, violence  - you don't want to make the news

If after cautious, consistent, and calculated interventions have no results, call the TV stations because you might have the next reality TV star.

I've made Mr. Rob Noxious out to be a bad guy.  The truth is, there's a little bit of him in all of us, if we are honest about it.  We hall have things we get heated about, things we are passionate.  We can get upset when things don't seem to go our way. And I won't deny that it could very well be the case that the coach really is a slouch, that the refs actually have no idea what they are doing, and that the other kids on the team would make better basket weavers than basketball players. However, I'd like to recommend a book called Basketcases by Derek Wolden. Wolden covers the youth sports scene from a variety of angles, with a good deal of humor and straightforward common sense.


BasketCases: How Youth Basketball Parents Can Lower Their Blood Pressure and Keep Their Sanity
Amazon Price: $20.00 $2.27 Buy Now
(price as of Jun 6, 2015)
After reading Wolden's book I really understood the importance of creating a positive atmosphere for kids.