Lara, as a child, and her dad in ice skates on a frozen lake. Parents in Sport. Spark Solutions.

Celebrating Parents in Sport Week!

This week is Parents in Sport Week (October 5-11), celebrated by the organization Active for Life. Where would I be in this world if I had not had the support of my parents in my pursuit of sport? Without a doubt, my life would have looked very different.

My parents participated in sport, and sport and recreational activities were an integral part of our lives. They enrolled my sister and I in activities from the time that we were very little. However, they also volunteered. My dad sat on our town’s recreation board for several years and helped to organize our town’s sports days and events, and maintained our town’s hockey rink. My mom coached volleyball, badminton, and organized youth track events at our school. She was my coach several times.

Lara and her mom riding a two-person bike. Parents in Sport. Spark Solutions.

Behind the Scenes Support

I sent my mom on a search through photo albums to find photos of us experiencing sport together, but there were very few. This illustrates to me that parents often experience sport from behind the scenes. My parents made meals and drove me to practices, games, and tournaments. They got me out of bed in order to get out of the door on time (no small feat), and sent me to bed so that I could get enough sleep. They wore team shirts, had pom poms, made signs, cheered me on, comforted me in moments of pain, and sometimes offered tough love. My mom, in particular, was behind the camera, capturing exciting moments.

In my adult life, my parents have continued to support my pursuit of sport as I shifted to other roles. They have supported my post-secondary schooling through degrees in sport management. My parents supported my trips overseas to volunteer at Olympic Games, chipped in financially, and drove me to the airport. They came to my games when I was a referee, even when it was hard to sit in the stands and listen to critical fans who rarely had pleasant things to say about those who manage the game. My mom even saved my skin by taking my referee pants to a seamstress and picking up spare pants when I managed to split a seam in the middle of a crowded gym during my final assessment for the next level of referee badge!

Lara and her family sitting in a bobsleigh waiting to go down a bobsleigh run. Parents in Sport. Spark Solutions.


I can imagine that being a sports parent is hard. You want to see your child have fun, learn new skills, make friends, and be active. You want to see your child reach their potential and be the best that they can be. To be the best parent in sport that you can be, I offer two pieces of advice:

1. Say “I love to watch you play”, and say it repeatedly. This Active for Life article discusses 5 ways to support your child, which includes providing unconditional emotional support no matter how well you think your child is playing, and allowing them to be independent in their pursuit of sport even if it requires a lot of support from you to make that happen. As well, it discusses emphasizing effort and personal improvement over the outcome, communicating and sharing goals, and behaving how you want your child to behave before, during, and after competitions. Instead of post-game analysis, share your presence- that’s your gift.

2. Ask your child: “what do you want from sport?” Hear what your child says. Most youth sport participants want to have fun, first and foremost, and they want to play with their friends. Children and teens want to be active. They want to have an exciting game (which generally means that the game is competitively balanced and that the outcome isn’t clear because the teams are similar in their abilities). Youth sport participants do want to win, but they want to win after all of the other elements have been taken care of. They are also ok with losing, because losing teaches you lessons. Accept the reasons why your child wants to play sport, especially if those reasons are different than why you want them to.

See You Soon!

To all parents in sport: 2020 has been a hard year for watching and celebrating your child in sport. We thank you for the work you do to make sport possible, and we can’t wait to see you back out there when we’re back to our regularly scheduled programming.

#PISW #Sportparents

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