How to know if you’re doing too much as a sports parent (aka The Lavar Ball Test)

Thinking Man
Be a thinking man’s (or woman’s) sports parent.

Lavar Ball is the conglomeration of every poor example of sports parenting I’ve ever written about in this space. I’ve addressed his behavior once before and there’s really no need to go there again.

This piece is about you, the sports parent who sees Ball’s behavior as over-the-top, but feels like his endgame is worth the effort. I mean, if his kids end up being multimillionaire, superstar basketball players, who cares what the rest of the world thinks, right?

Here’s the thing: You and your kid are a package deal. Your behavior influences what other people think of your child. If you are consistently disrespectful, overbearing and inappropriate, people will project those attributes onto your child.

Schools, teams and (potential) sponsors will pass on your child because they don’t want to deal with you. Don’t ever think your child is so talented that an organization can’t find another way to succeed.

Good parents give kids the tools to eventually make it on their own. You’ll always be part of the team, it just won’t always be your show. For all of his greatness, Tim Duncan knew when it was time to sit down because a young kid named Kawhi was ready. Let your Kawhi do his or her thing and sit your behind down.

You have to do some self-policing, though. You need to know when you’re doing too much. Here are three easy ways to know if you are doing too much. And if you find yourself doing any of these, stop immediately and take a step back. It’s not about you. It’s about the kids.

  1. If you make outlandish athletic claims about yourself that couldn’t possibly be true, you’re doing too much. You can’t beat Michael Jordan one-on-one, knock out Floyd Mayweather or beat Usain Bolt in a race.
  2. If you make outlandish athletic claims about your kid that couldn’t possibly be true, you’re doing too much. Your kid cannot shoot better than Steph Curry, tumble better than Simone Biles or hit better than Bryce Harper.
  3. If people talk about you more than your child, then you’re doing too much. Simple question: Why are Stephen A. Smith, Colin Cowherd, Jason Whitlock, et al. talking about you and not your kid?

Our kids are like the sun. You don’t have to make an announcement that it’s out. Just pull the shade and let their light shine.

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