DFWChild / Articles / Family Life / Kids / The Select Few

The Select Few

There are approximately 471,000 high school baseball players. Of that group, just over 31,000 will play college baseball, and 806 will be drafted to the major leagues.

My 8-year-old son is better at sports than I was at 12. Maybe 15. Seriously, this kid is a freak of nature. He’s played select soccer for the best select soccer club in the area and made his first baseball all-star team after exactly two seasons of organized play. He’s a nifty point guard, a sure-handed wide receiver and a pretty mean chess player too.

Now don’t get me wrong. He’s got as much chance of playing professional sports as I do of becoming an astronaut. Heck, considering that he’ll someday be attending Flower Mound High School, which typically has about 4 million boys trying out for every sport, just making varsity will be a minor miracle. Even so, my guy’s early athletic prowess has been fun to watch.

But along with the wins, losses and a couple of bloody noses, there’s been an unexpected perk. I have an exclusive all-access pass to the inner sanction of a sports-parent fraternity. Actually, it’s more like I’m a supporting actor in a really nutty reality show. Call it “The Real Select Parents of Flower Mound.” It’s an awesome show with equal parts drama, comedy, mystery and just plain crazy. If Bravo is looking for a good fit for its fall lineup, I suggest they fly in a camera crew to the FloMo as soon as possible.

Of the 1,108,441 high school football players this year, just 255 will be drafted into the NFL.

I’ll admit that I’m far from the perfect sports parent myself. Do I talk badly about my son’s teammates who are a bit slower in their development? Yes. Do I want to find the nearest cattle prod when my son fails to perform at the Hall of Fame level my misguided expectations dictate? Yes. I’m certainly no Great Santini firing a basketball to the back of my son’s head, but I do have a little sports crazy going on.

Yes, select (a.k.a. travel, all-star, club) parents are a unique breed. They scream louder (and more), dress in snazzy team colors (especially the mommies with a huge dose of bedazzled glory), know more (or at least act like it) and never, ever hesitate to add their opinion on where your kid should bat in the order or play on the court.

But making fun of these folks is a bit tired. Sure, they’re all living through their kids’ success. So what? Anyone reading this would do the same if his or her child showed promise at anything, be it quarterback, ballet or backgammon. Sports being so high-profile, it makes sense that select parents are given a worse rap than Vanilla Ice. The media relishes showing YouTube clips of a parent tripping an 8-year-old after a hockey game (true story) or the obligatory annual parent fight after a controversial call in a 10-year-old championship football clash (always in South Florida, for some reason). Yeah, bad apples are out there. But I guarantee that a majority of these kids wouldn’t be playing at the highest level without the highest level of commitment from their parents. If that means buying a $250 Easton bat or a pair of $85 Nike hightops that will last him exactly three months before he grows out of them, so be it.

Of the 545,000 high school basketball players this year, just 48 will be drafted into the NBA.

Yes, the reality is written in boldfaced type on the Internet by simply typing “Odds of making it to the pros” into Google. No matter. Select parents like to ignore the odds. Select parents would never let a little thing like facts get in the way of playing goal for hours while their daughter pummels their forearms, chest and forehead with guided missiles. Select parents are lottery players. You can’t win if you don’t play.

Again, the guy writing this column is the most not-perfect parent on any field my son plays on. As my little guy keeps having fun playing whatever sport he decides is his favorite now, I’ll continue to chronicle the wonderful world of sports parents — knowing there’s a little me in all of the above. Well, except for the tight bedazzled shirts.

Published July 2013

Rudy lives in Flower Mound, works in Fort Worth and plays everywhere in between. He has one wife, one daughter, one son, one published book, one obsession with sports and 20 million observations on marriage and children. Follow him on Twitter: Manifesto10.