State of Play: by HBO Sports

State of Play: by HBO Sports

Our Story Begins: Kids And Sports…
Whose Dream Is It, Really? (Video)

I was never one of those parents. You know what I’m talking about, right?
The “I played Mozart for my kids” and “they’re going to succeed at all costs and get into Harvard!” parents.


A new documentary produced by HBO Sports called State of Play: Trophy Kids sheds a surprisingly intimate look at the darker side of the sports world. Directed by Peter Berg, HBO takes on the world of sports parenting. It’s not a pretty sight.

It seems to be a fairly new phenomenon, this obsession with creating a sports icon in youth. There were always “camps” and other things to participate in football, baseball and basketball when I was a kid. They were not, however, required attendance to be on the school team. Today they are.

Today, sometimes, things are quite askew, as this documentary has shown. Berg’s piece showcases several parents, in differing sports. Football, tennis, golf and basketball are showcased and lest you think it’s only high school, the kids were all of different ages. Their parents said things like “I’d love to tell them how proud I am of them but I can’t do that until they’ve gotten there.” It’s obvious, it seems, to everyone but the parents that this “dream” of being the star athlete is the parent’s dream, not the kids’.

Related: Our Story Begins: Spreading the Wealth.

You could apply this message to the trainwreck that is “Toddlers and Tiaras” or even, in some cases, the music competitions like X-Factor or American Idol.

Jamming with My Kids

Jamming with My Kids

When my daughter wanted to learn to play the guitar I had to stop trying to be her teacher.  I grew frustrated, angry, and I realized very early I was hurting more than helping.  Eventually I let it be at her own pace. Being a musician myself it would be easy to force her to play material I know and push her to enter into bands and perform. But I let her listen to her own music and play what she wants to play, with the corollary that she has to learn the basics of rhythm and lead. I certainly have a dream of being a touring musician. I don’t force that dream on my daughter. If she wants it, it’s up to her to work toward it and fail if need be – and fail she will – but work at it and learn.

Related: Our Story Begins: Sometimes Doing Nothing is Good Enough!

But still, as director Berg points out, you can relate to being a parent and knowing, full-well, that your kid’s not putting in the effort.  So where is that line?  Where do you draw the line from pushing for their best effort and obsession over their success?

I watched the documentary when it aired with my sons, Noah and Sam.

“Why do they do that,” my son Noah asked?
“I don’t know,” was all I could respond. “Sometimes parents are so desperate for the kids to succeed they forget that this is for their kids.”
“But this boy doesn’t even want to play. I can tell,” he said, watching a father scream at his son on the way to football practice.
“Sometimes, parents think that if their kids succeed it makes them special, too.”

It’s obvious it’s not the kid’s dream in many of these cases, it’s the parents’. Some might be people who peaked to early in their own lives.  They’re re-living that touchdown pass or the Homecoming dance, trying to recapture their youth. But youth is fleeting.  Experience and life are amazing. That’s the lesson to be gained for the rest of us.

“I’m glad you don’t treat us like that,” my son Sam told me.

I couldn’t have been happier as a father than when I heard those eight words.  I hope they continue to see me that way.

What about you? Watch the link to the documentary and tell me what you think? Give me your intelligent discussion! How do you treat your kids’ activities? Are they their dreams or are they yours?

Dave Manoucheri

Dave Manoucheri is a writer, journalist and musician based in Sacramento, California. A father of four, two daughters and twin sons, his blog, Our Story Begins is a chronicle of their life after the loss of his wife, Andrea, in March of 2011. Follow him on Twitter @InvProducerMan