3 Big Benefits of Sports Parenting

Kids are not the only ones who get something out of youth sports. You do, too!

Soccer players getting into minivan
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It may not seem like it when you're shelling out big bucks for team fees, washing stinky socks, or spending what seems like 25 hours a day carpooling. But youth sports can be good for parents as well as kids. Just think about what you gain from sports parenting. When your child is involved in youth sports, you can enjoy benefits such as these:

Strong Relationships

"Sports act as a platform for the child-parent relationship, and many parents said sports gave them and their children something to talk about," said Meghan McDonough, a Purdue University professor who interviewed sports parents as part of a research project.

"What we learned from these parents shows that many do not fit the negative stereotype of being overinvolved or acting out." Instead, parents and kids spend positive, high-quality time together. Sports participation offers lots of teachable moments, opportunities to discuss important values with your child: gracious winning and losing; perseverance; honesty; respect for others; and so much more.

The demands of sports parenting also promote good communication between spouses, and encourage adult friendships and social skill-building. Put in enough bleacher time—or volunteer hours—with someone and she’s bound to become a good buddy! "I don't think it's terribly surprising that parents connect with one another, but what was surprising is the intensity of that connection," said Alan Smith, a colleague of McDonough’s who was also involved in the sports parenting research.

Time Management

For me, being a sports parent has improved my planning-ahead game like nothing else.

I keep track of schedules (for two kids, plus volunteer jobs for my husband and myself), help kids maintain and transport equipment (this is why my neighbors regularly see me walking to my car with a hockey bag, a viola case, and a gym bag or two), and make sure everyone eats something reasonably nutritious each evening.

Physical Fitness

Some parents in the Purdue University research study (all of whom had kids ages 6-15 who played basketball, baseball, softball, or soccer) reported that their kids’ athleticism inspired them to take up sports themselves. Some joined in on their kids’ games, while others rekindled a childhood interest in some other sport or started a brand-new habit. Parents and kids as mutual role models? That’s a win-win!


Dorsch TE, Smith AL, McDonough M. Parents’ Perceptions of Child-to-Parent Socialization in Organized Youth Sport.  Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology Vol 31 No 4 August 2009.

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