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“Bad Parents” Review: A Lesson in What Not to Do When Your Kid Plays Sports

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Disclosure: I was not compensated in any way for this review. It reflects my honest opinions.

If your kids play youth sports, you’ve probably seen plenty of bad sports parent behavior on the sidelines. But have you thought about what goes on at home, in the car, and elsewhere behind the scenes? Sometimes we can all use a lesson in what not to do when our kids play sports.

Last night I sat down and watched the movie Bad Parents. I first heard about this movie from jbm thinks, a sports parenting blog. Being that I often write about youth sports, it piqued my interest.

"Bad Parents" Review

Although I laughed and shook my head numerous times during the movie, there were a few moments that just were over the top. By over the top, I mean so upsetting that I actually turned away and didn’t watch the screen. There was R rated content. It’s definitely not appropriate for kids. Personally I think the movie would have driven its point home without the sexually explicit content, the F word, and the over to the top scenes, but at the same time, in some respects, these scenes serve to show how outrageous sports parents’ behavior can become.

The movie starts off with the soccer board agreeing to split a U8 team into A and B, with the reasoning that the less skilled players will hold the more skilled players back. The key word here is U8…we’re talking 7 year olds! The scary thing about this is that this does happen from time to time. Kids are still developing at these younger years, and it makes absolutely no sense to be splitting them up by A and B at U8. Even later, when the A and B teams have been formed, coaches should be extending the same training, resources and opportunities to each team, because kids do develop at different levels. Just because a kid is on the “B” team when she’s 10 doesn’t mean that’s where she’ll be at age 12. You’ll often find that “B” team players become “A” team players down the road.

That being said, the parents in the movie behaved outrageously. The splitting of the team is the least of it. Although they say over and over again, “it’s about the kids,” clearly it’s about the parents’ egos. The parents are so enamoured with their kids being on the “A” team that they have lost sight of the fact that youth sports are supposed to be fun. The assistant coach’s daughter does not want to be there. She barely plays, so you wonder whether her disinterest is because she doesn’t get much playing time, or rather, is it because she was never interested to begin with? Jenna, the narrator’s daughter, would rather play soccer on the playground with friends than with her team. Less pressure perhaps? Nick, the coach, is so overzealous and arrogant (other words come to mind as well) that you find yourself wondering how any parent could stand to let their child play on his team. For the most part, these parents aren’t people that you’d want to know. My favorite parent was Tracy, Gary’s (assistant coach) wife. I liked her reaction at the beginning of the movie when Gary came home and told her that their daughter had all but secured a spot on the “A” team because he was going to be assistant coaching, but at the end of the movie, she “scored” big with her ability to look at the situation from a more objective place than the rest of the parents.

Check out the trailer:

I won’t tell you how it ends (it’s a dark ending though), but I will say this movie will make you think about what not to do when your kid plays sports.

It will make you think before you yell at a referee, coach, player or another parent from the sidelines.

It will make you think about what you say to your child.

It will make you think about what you say about other children.

It will make you think about what you say to the coach. 

And the bottom line is, that’s the real takeaway here! It’s important that we all think before we speak and remember that it IS about the kids! Let’s not lose sight of the fact that sports should be fun! Here’s to a fun (and civil) sports season!

You can find Bad Parents at Amazon and iTunes.

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Saturday 5th of October 2013

As a music director I could relate to many of these issues. Thank you for a wonderful and thoughtful post! Maria

Michelle Nahom

Saturday 5th of October 2013

Unfortuunately some parents are way over the top. I think it often takes the fun out of it for the kids!


Sunday 25th of August 2013

Sometimes I think they should just make the parents drop the kids off at the field and just let them play with no interference. You're right, it has become so much more about the parents. We are in Scouts rather than in sports, but even then you have to deal with so many different personality types and parental pressures, it can definitely be crazy making.

Michelle Nahom

Thursday 29th of August 2013

That would definitely make sense, but the kids also like to have us watching. It gives them a sense of pride when they can show off their new skills and see that their parents have an interest in what they are doing. It's sad to watch though. You should see some of the things I catch on camera, since I take all the pictures for my kids' teams. Sometimes I don't know until after the game that I got a photo of a deliberate foul. Once I got a picture of one girl pinching another.

Kathy Radigan

Sunday 25th of August 2013

I have not heard about this one either so I really appreciate the info and review. It is horrible what goes on in the name of "we are doing it for the kids" not just in sports but in any after school activity. Thanks so much for a great review!

Michelle Nahom

Thursday 29th of August 2013

It's pretty disappointing to see. And then we wonder why the kids grow up and don't play with the kind of sportsmanship that we'd like to see? I think there is a direct correlation!


Saturday 24th of August 2013

We had an AWFUL year with soccer last season because of parents. And this was U6!! My husband got thrust into the coaching position because the coach's daughter broke her arm at the first practice. Parents complained to him because he wasn't drilling the kids enough and "this is a critical year in their skill development." For 5 year olds! I firmly believe it was just a few parents and not a reflection of the league, but I made the request that we not be on teams with those families again, or else we would not be playing!

Michelle Nahom

Saturday 24th of August 2013

That is terrible Rabia! We were very lucky with most of our teams. My oldest son's team and my daughter's team were very cohesive with many of the parents becoming very good friends as well. However we've come across a few parents and coaches over the years that I could have done without as well.

Sharon Greenthal

Saturday 24th of August 2013

I lived through this for many years as the parent of a baseball/football son and softball/showchoir daughter. The most profound thing I learned on the other end is how few of those so-called superstars actually went on to play sports or perform in college and, later on, in life.

I loved watching the kids but some of the parents were horrible - though I did make some lifelong friends from the experiences I had as a sports parent.

Michelle Nahom

Saturday 24th of August 2013

I've made some pretty amazing friends as well! And you're right...very few of these kids go on to play in college or the pros! And besides that, even for those that do, it's never necessary for parents to behave this way. If it's meant to be, it's going to happen either way. You don't need to climb over other people to get there. Sadly, this stuff happens more often than it should. Thanks for weighing in!