It’s been a long time since the last time that I wrote in this blog, but the duties with a national team roll in a very fast tempo; Double practices, difficult trips, games, video and many thoughts. We had to become a real team which will play a high level basketball in a month and I am telling you, all these are very difficult things especially if you work with a team that you don’t know players as much as you’d like to, as is the case with my national team of Latvia. Then I attended the two world championships, men’s and women’s. I was watching more than 5-6 games per day, and even when I closed my eyes I had the visions of basketballs aiming at the rim, players running everywhere. Anyway, I’ll tell you more about the world championships and my impressions in the future.
The truth is that today’s issue is coming from some collected ideas which I wanted to share with you a long time ago and it’s about some violent incidents that took place. While watching some youth basketball games, I noticed at least four games with these incidents and unfortunately they took publicity. I am talking about extremely big fights between the fans of the two teams, and to be honest, these fans were the parents of the players of the teams. Of course that unfortunate phenomenon started from the unquenchable thirst of the parents for distinction of their children to the point where they cannot imagine or accept any team playing better than their own, any opponent to be superior in talent, or even a teammate to play more time or take more shots than their child! Sometimes they cannot even accept their team to lose or their child to not play well because they are in a bad day and maybe a little tired. For them, everything is a collusion and an organized injustice against their child, the unique talent. Such attitudes certainly we do not meet only in Greece or just in recent years. In America, the problem is so big that in coaches’ forums, this often becomes the first issue. Spain and Italy also face many problems with parents. If you ask me what the solution to problems posed by parents to the coach of their team and by extension to their children, I do not think I would have a ready answer. Although we all know that a number of measures would help but wouldn’t completely solve the problem!
Overall, I’ve always believed that we should not let things end up where there is a definite loss on both sides. An honest relationship between parents and their child’s coach, rather than their embargo should be held to higher standard. The coach in some cases needs the help of the family, and the family needs the support of the coach on several issues. Sometimes I consider myself very lucky because in my first basketball steps I had coach Kostas Bogatsioti to guide me. If we did not present good grades in school each semester, we were threatened that he’d cut us from the team…(I’ll kick you out of the team and you’ll become gasolines…”meaning that without basketball in our life we’ll become freaks like David Bowie at his video clip “gasoline” back in the 80’s…).These kind of coaches in youth basketball is what we need not only on the backetball court but in our society as well. At the same time, he never gave the right to any parent to think that he or she can influence him for a better treatment of their child.
On the one side he put all the players to think about how they can be useful for the team, and at the same time - and this is amazing - he put all the parents to think about how their son can be useful to the team and this way everyone was happy. The atmosphere was amazing; imagine that several tips and thumbs up were coming from the parents of our teammates. But these took place because at the age of 80’s, the council board of the club PAPAGOS decided to give the keys of the youth basketball program club to a coach with personality and knowledge, rather than someone who was inexperienced or unskilled. The results the next few years vindicated that move, with that batch of players raising the team so high from the last divisions of the Athenian league to the first division and to the quarterfinals of Korac cup, with coach Kostas Missas for those who remember history. At this time, however, the society was so much different, as was the "schedule" of the kids. In these days we were growing up in the streets, playing basketball and football, chasing each other, sometimes hiding and playing stone throwing. Children now are growing up in apartments, they spend hours in front of their computer surfing the internet, playing play station or watching television. It is clear that today’s children do not spend their energy in a useful manner.
So as a necessary way for their children to be more active, parents pay for their kids to participate in any team sport, in order to spend their energy wisely. But whatever the purpose of the parent, these hours for children remain the hours of play. The pressure and advice from parents do not fit here; it’s the hours that the children will see their friends and run together, laugh while playing games or just simply be competing in something. We must never forget that the child grows properly only if properly developed into three categories: a) Physical b) mentally and c) psychic. Proper nutrition is the "food" of the first category, books and education are the “food” of the mind, game is to "feed" their soul. If we parents press our children at the time of the game, pushing them at the edge of their abilities wanting them to always be first and never lose, the chances of our children to hate the sport in general are very big. The results from a child who retire from the sport at an early age for any reason is tragic.
Let’s see some potential impacts:
1 - The sport is losing a potential talent and the society is losing a healthier person as he should have a healthier life.
2 – Even if the child never developed into a talented player, his love for the sport can keep him involved somehow through other positions such as a coach, referee,manager, an agent, etc. (Because in sports we need people to cover all of these positions).
3 - If we are talking about a man who would have the chance to develop economically, he could be offered as a sponsoring group or the sport he loved.
4 - Even if there was not anything about this, once a man becomes frustrated with the sport, the game will begin to lose him as a fan.
5 - And perhaps the worst of all is that being disappointed he does not want to let his own child feel the same emotions and not let him being involved with sports.
I do not want to go any further on this issue; it is so often talked about that someone will probably write books about it. My intention was to give more food for thought to the coaches and parents. I do not know if I made you tired with these thoughts, but since you had patience thus far, could you please watch the short movie that is relevant to the subject, featuring many well-known basketball figures? I would highly recommend to show it to any parent who encourages his or her child to play basketball. I would like to thank my good friend and coach of San Jose Leon, Miguel Estrada Blanco who sent me this movie. One more good thing that happened to my life because of basketball, I made good friends all over the world!