Do athletes like having supportive parents?

Article by: Margarita Te

Photograph by: Mike Feng

At most youth games or meets, one particular kind of spectator is a guarantee in the crowd: the parent, cheering vehemently with a camera in hand. Whether it is your own parent or someone else’s, these parents support and watch as their children vie against students from other schools, whether that be at ISM or out of the country. They come with intentions to motivate Bearcat athletes, but what are the athletes’ thoughts on having their parents observe them as they do their sport?

According to a number of students, the common belief is that having your parents attend games is beneficial to performance. Senior and varsity volleyball player, Ayaka S., says that she is “lucky that [her] mother can watch [her] play because she always gives the best feedback after each game.” Additionally, despite some constructive criticism, she says that because her parents are very athletic, having a common interest helps them become even closer; thus, the presence of her parents affects her in a positive way. Likewise, volleyballer and junior, Ines M., feels “more comfortable” when her parents are watching her play. She “enjoys going back to [them] when finishing a game,” as they tell her what she can improve on. “To me, that is extremely helpful because I’d rather be told all the bad than the good. It pushes me to work harder, especially coming from my parents,” she states. Multiple studies have pointed to a connection between positive, supportive parental involvement and a child’s level of enjoyment and success in the sport he or she is playing.

On the other hand, some students prefer that their parents don’t watch their games. Sophomore and cross country runner, Nicole W., says that she tells her parents not to come to her meets as it makes her want to “impress them, which is quite stressful.” For runners like her, relaxing is always much better during races, and the absence of her parents relieves some of the pressure she already feels. This idea, though, is supported by research concerning the topic; an article from PBS claims that “when kids look to [parents] on the sidelines for approval or consolation, part of them is distracted from what really counts, the mastery of something difficult, the obligations to teammates, the game itself.” Meanwhile, CNN published a similar report, stating that “good parenting is a mix of standing on the sidelines to show support, and letting them stand alone so they learn to support themselves.”

Clearly, the question of how supportive parents should be raises a variety of opinions and standpoints. Nevertheless, parents will continue to be a significant component of the athletic culture at ISM, and we thank them for their endless support!