Being a sports parent is great, but it’s also a major time (and sometimes financial) commitment. Being a sports parents 2 or 3 times over can be incredibly rewarding, but managing a multi-athlete home means managing more issues/conflicts.
Here are two of the most common issues that come with managing a multi-athlete home.
Dealing with Conflicting Schedules
One sports schedule can be crowded enough, especially if your son/daughter plays for a high-powered travel team that practices multiple times a week and travels to away tournaments every weekend. Many new sports parents quickly realize that life starts to revolve around that sports schedule! Now imagine you have two or three sports schedules to balance, plus school and work and doctor’s appointments and music lessons and more. That calendar is going to get very full very quickly! Managing a multi-athlete home means planning way in advance. Not only do you need to figure out how the kids are getting to each game/practice (try carpooling with other parents!) but you want to ensure that each child has someone at a good portion of their games. Nothing makes a young athlete feel better than hearing their mom/dad say “I love you watch you play.” Obviously if you have multiple athletes it’s impossible to make it to every game and practice, but your child is going to love seeing you cheering from the sidelines as often as you can!
At the beginning of each season sit down with your whole family and coordinate schedules. Who is going to what game on what day? Who is driving who to practice at what time? When everyone knows where they need to be it’s much easier to keep your schedule from overwhelming your family.
Handling Sibling Rivalry
Siblings are naturally going to compete with each other, especially for their parents’ attention, and sports can be a breeding ground for some serious sibling rivalry. Eli and Patton Manning are probably two of the most famous siblings in sports.
In all their years competing amongst one another NFL quarterback Eli Manning says he has only defeated his older brother and opposing NFL quarterback Peyton Manning once in a basketball game.
“I was about 17, 18 years old,” Eli says. “It was in the backyard… We both had cuts, and it was a brutal game.”
“On the winning basket he made a little counter step on me,” Peyton says, grimacing slightly. “I remember that he did dunk in that game, which was a huge step. Anytime your younger brother dunks on your older brother, that’s a huge step.”
After the game the brothers acknowledged this huge step in their rivalry with a half-hearted handshake. “We separated and didn’t talk for a few hours. I’m not a guy who rubs it in. You go your separate ways, and by the night or the next day it’s over.”
What can other sports parents do to ensure their children’s sibling rivalry doesn’t get out of hand? First off, it’s important to praise each child equally. You may be a big baseball family, but if one child prefers to play tennis you want to support/encourage their involvement as much as the baseball player. You don’t want a child to feel like they are letting you down/you love their sibling more because they don’t play your favorite sport.
Secondly, due your absolute best to not downplay one child’s accomplishments. Your older son may be the star football player on his team but that doesn’t mean your younger son isn’t doing as good a job as he can. When one child is just a natural athlete and success comes easy, and the other maybe isn’t the most athletically gifted, there is bound to be a little tension. If one child feels like they don’t get any praise it can breed resentment and disappointment.
Healthy competition is great on the field because it pushes young athletes to try harder and push themselves. But at that competition needs to stay in the sports arena and be kept to a minimum at home.