2014-12-13 / The Rock

Entitlement – A growing problem in high school athletics

By Tyler Atkins and Zack Davis

A sense of entitlement seems to be a growing problem in high school athletics.

Some spectators believe they are entitled to publicly bash athletes and coaches during a sporting event, on social media, or elsewhere.

Some parents believe student athletes are entitled to playing time in competitive high school sports, which teaches children to believe the same.

These toxic ideas of entitlement are detrimental to the athletes, the team, the coaching staff, the school and the community.

The amount of criticism and bashing that goes on during high school athletic events is staggering. Ruthless adult spectators seem to forget that teens are on the receiving end of their insults from the stands. Although student athletes must learn to be tolerant of fan behavior, it is absurd to expect a 16-year-old kid to stay engaged in his or her role on the team while hearing endless amounts of verbal abuse from the stands. Some may say heckling by fans is a part of sports culture; but not all high school athletes are mature enough to deal with such bullying, nor should they have to.

Unfortunately, athletes’ parents can often be the most brutal of fans when their child’s role on a team is not what they had envisioned. Some have heckled their child’s teammates or the coaching staff when their own child is not getting the playing time they believe is deserved. How can student athletes learn the importance of being a team player, whether it is on the court or in the workplace, if parents’ behavior teaches them to lash out when things don’t go their way?

Andy Weld of Arkansas’s Blytheville Courier News stated in a January 2014 article, “The problem with too many parents is that they seem to have an inflated sense of their own kids’ talent. The notion seems to be that the talent is there, if only the right coach comes along to harness that talent, and turn the individual players into allstars, and the teams into state champions. But the talent is not always there. Sometimes the desire isn’t there. Sometimes the work ethic isn’t there. There are a wide range of factors that play a role in the success of athletes and teams, and most of those factors are outside the control of the coach. And parents need to understand that.”

Unlike recreational sports, high school sports are competitive.

High school athletes must earn the right to wear the jersey and the right to playing time by bringing a strong athletic skill set, by being dedicated to the team, by performing well academically, and by showing good character and sportsmanship.

No parent or athlete should ever underestimate how hard another athlete is working to earn that same position on a team, a position no one is simply entitled to have without competing for it or competing to keep it.

Purchasing a high school game ticket does not entitle spectators to verbally abuse others. Wearing a high school jersey, does not entitle an athlete to playing time.

Kevin Eastman, the current Los Angeles Clippers vice president of basketball operations, once said, “Entitlement never wins championships, investment wins championships.”

The fans, the parents, the school, the coaching staff, and the players must invest in the team and the school’s athletic program.

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