19 Comments

  1. The BBC had a great documentary by the same name that even included a Tennis prodigy. Worth a view.

  2. Again, thanks for sharing. I will definitely watch it. I have seen some bad behavior at tennis tournaments, and it comes from the parents who have sacrificed too much time, and especially money, they didn't have. building a dream on the back of a child who didn't want it as much.

  3. Thank you for your post about this. I am heavily involved in hockey Duluth, MN, a hockey crazy town. I have a little boy who is 6 who has been a "natural" since he began (skating at 1.5 and playing with a team at 3). No doubt he's ahead of the curve and plays with kids 3 years older. People watch him and are amazed. I have done little for him other than bring him to our outdoor neighborhood rink and let him play. No summer hockey, no camps, etc. He's never said no to going to the rink. I am not delusional as kids will catch up to him and surpass him. My goal is only that he is as passionate about playing now as when he hits puberty (if he wants to play) because this is the time when real development takes place - everything else before then is NOT development. I could careless if he plays any higher level of hockey. We enjoy it together but if he quit we'd just find something else to enjoy together. My biggest concern, however, is a personal development. I am worried that he will be "defined" as a hockey player. I can already see it in how anyone that knows him, asks him about hockey. I get the feeling he is becoming self-aware. I want him to continue if he wants but not because he feels he would be letting others down by not playing. Do you get what I mean? I think you allude to it in your "Titus" example where a kid achieves early success and does that child then become trapped. I see Dr. Lauer is involved in USA Hockey and I am big believer in USA Hockey's ADM.

  4. Ray, I totally get what you mean! And I think it's really hard for a kid to separate him/herself from his/her sports identity. That's where we parents come into play - we have to hold up a mirror to our kids and point out the facets of their being that are NOT tied to sports. Maybe it's their role as a mentor to a younger sibling or their role as a helper in the school classroom. Wayne Bryan talks a lot about making sure kids have interests outside of their primary activity, whether it's music, art, writing, youth group, etc.

  5. Justus e mail me at wheredoisit@cox.net. I saw the HBO show we need to talk. I can help. Your father and your self lives in two different worlds.

  6. Off this subject, sorry. But, can you find out any information about the March team event ( gold ball)? They got rid of Boys 18's March Nationals and have replaced it with this March team event. Last I heard, it was a 32 draw ... There are close to 200 boys that would like to play it... ( Based on last year's March nationals). Do you know how they plan to choose the boys? I did ask my sectional, they didn't know, and I can get no return of phone call from the National office. Many thanks for any insights or information you can share with your readers!!!!

    • Here is info from Bill Ozaki, my go-to expert: Players for that event will be selected from the national standings at the time of selection. There are five national events where sections will have a quota: National clay, hard and winter championships Feb and October closed regionals Zonals and intersectional team events are by section selection All other events are selected from the national standings.

  7. i know nothing about the team event but am happy to try to get that information for you! :)

  8. When I read some of your comments "They had good intentions even though we may watch them and deem their behavior disgusting." I saw no good intentions - just a desire for total control of their children. "Their actions are coming from a place of love." - it made me think I must have been watching a totally different program than the one apparently in question. I certainly saw no sign of love from any of the four parents, unless it was love for themselves. I was astonished that any of them would have agreed to allow themselves to be filmed. (And was so glad to learn at the end that Justus had gotten away from that father of his to go and live with his mom.) I do thank you for having provided some feedback from one of the four parents and glad to hear he was ashamed of what he saw of himself in the film. I kept wondering all the way through the program "What on earth do these parents think of their behaviour when they see it on film?" I was so happy that the two young tennis players had each other to be able to commiserate about having that mother who was so way out there with all her "religious" stuff. To me, she seemed like an extreme parody, but I guess that's the kind of stuff she actually says. I'd love to see some follow-up with these kids when they're a few years older.

  9. Lisa, Thanks for your thoughtful and nuanced commentary on the show. When all the bells and whistles of t.v. are involved, it is so easy to view such productions as entertainment rather than education. Self-reflection seems to be always the best first step when faced with serious topics. Scientific evidence has regularly shown that parents are the greatest supporters and greatest stressors of their children. When support turns to smothering and stress turns to abuse no one wins. There are far more athletes that are casualties of excessive parental pushing than there are world champions. So often the cost-benefit of parental behaviors is both out of whack and not considered. This does not mean it is an easy task however. Riding the roller coaster of parenthood is tough enough, let alone inviting the chaos of sport into your family system. The overplanning and excessively supportive parent robs the student-athlete of a voice, of choice, and of the opportunities to struggle in sport. Yes, struggling is an invaluable opportunity. One that leads to great adults and nurtures elite athletes. So often planning, praising, scolding, and "coaching" that are done by sport parents inadvertently hinder, hurt, and humiliate. I truly believe that all parents what best for their children. Unfortunately, the fog of parenthood and the fog of sport leads to some tragic outcomes during opportunities for play. Thank you for the consideration you gave in your reflection on the show. Abusive sports parenting is simply unacceptable. Unwise sports parenting that many can fall into is unfortunate. With some reflection, we can all do a bit better and student-athletes thrive that much more.

  10. Good lady, Would you care to share your conversations with Mr. Lauer and with Andre over at HBOWatch? You seem to be in hte know and we still have comments about this documentary over on our site. I thank you for any embellishment you could offer without taking to much time away from your schedule Jef for HBOWatch.

  11. I saw the show and did not see much difference between the behavior of the parents on the show and that of most parents of high level junior players. Tennis parents are way too involved and emphasize winning at the expense of honor and sportsmanship.

  12. THE MARINOVICH PROJECT is currently available to watch on NetFlix - it's the story of Todd Marinovich and his father, Marv, and how Marv set out to create the perfect football quarterback from the day Todd was born. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend watching. I also recommend watching the director's comments at the end of the film comparing Marv Marinovich to Richard Williams and Earl Woods - very interesting!

  13. HBO Docs Update: The Latest about Sam Berns; Pussy Riot and TROPHY KIDS

  14. I think andre is full of shit!! He called his little girl a [expletive] and told her he would hit her in the mouth on national t.v. There is pretty much nothing to say after that. I would love to see a second lart to it, to make sense of it all

  15. My heart sank when Andre called his daughter a name..she's 7! It doesn't even matter what age, he should never speak that way to any girl/woman! And don't get me started on Derek's dad..meat head who won't shut up. At least the tennis mom is respectful to her boys. We will NEVER do this to our son when it's time for him to play sports.

  16. I was a division I athlete and I coached division I swimmers for years, my brother currently coaches age group swimmers that range from mediocre swimmers to Olympic trial qualifiers. My brother and I talk about the kids that have parents like the one in the film, we always predict that they will fail because coaching them is beyond our control if they are constantly being told they can do better aka constantly being told that everything they do is wrong. Our most successful swimmers DO NOT have parents like the ones in the documentary. I can't imagine working your butt off everyday and being told you suck everytime, that will cause the opposite of confidence. (despite what Justus's dad seems to think) It would be interested to interview world class athletes or their coaches and see what type of parents they had.

  17. Growing up I played hockey, soccer, basketball, and ran track. As an adult I'm into cycling and weight lifting. I love sports and I believe that there are so many great life lessons that can be taught through them, I definitely benefited from being an athlete. I'm very competitive and a firm believer in hard work. I hate the everybody-gets-a-trophy movement and believe it has done a lot of damage to kids. However, if the kid isn't passionate about the sport and doesn't love it, or has no desire to try to become a pro, then their parents need to accept and respect that. It doesn't matter how much daddy or mommy wants it, it's not about them. I played to win and because I enjoyed playing those sports, my parents knew I didn't wanna be a pro and they accepted that. These parents should try that, it's called maturity. The kid has to make the decision in the end, it's their life. The dads in this film are assholes (pardon the language, but it's the best descriptor for them). The mom has so many misconceptions about God and God's will that it makes me sick. Her sons have INHERENT worth because they're human beings made in the image of God. They matter whether or not they're good at a sport. Get over yourself, woman.

  18. Also, I'd love to punch the football dad in the face. He deserves it and needs it.

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