As a parent, you are aware of the time commitments of your child's sports team responsibilities. Today's youth sports leagues often involve many practices and games, long travel and sometimes even year-round responsibilities.

As a parent, you are aware of the time commitments of your child's sports team responsibilities. Today's youth sports leagues often involve many practices and games, long travel and sometimes even year-round responsibilities. Many parents find it challenging to keep up with everything that youth sports entails.

One comment from coaches I regularly hear is the discouragement they feel when it seems parents are not interested in watching their child compete in sports. Some parents regularly drop off their child at practices and games and rarely stick around to watch what is happening.

Coaches have told me they think some parents use sports as a babysitter so parents can do other things without having to provide adequate supervision. Obviously, this does not apply to all parents, but I have heard the concern enough over the years to merit its being mentioned.

If you are a parent and are thinking about a sport for your child, please consider the following:

Determine how time-intensive the sport will be and talk as a family to see if it makes sense to join. Should your child play in an advanced league with more practices, games, and travel, or should he or she play in a recreational league with more relaxed requirements? Once you have decided on a league, try to find out as early as possible what your child's schedule will be. You may want to consider developing a spreadsheet or another kind of schedule that will allow you to adequately plan to watch your child compete. Remember, in order for your child to grow holistically and get the most out of his or her athletic experience, it is essential that you be a part of the process. Nothing is more exciting for a young person than to make a great play and look up into the stands to see his or her parents beaming with pride and excitement. It's a big bummer for kids if they finish playing a great game and realize their parents didn't see any of their efforts and accomplishments. In some instances, parents are over-extended with their careers and find it difficult to make many of their child's games and are left wondering what to do. Those parents may want to check into flextime at work, talk to employers about shifting work hours, or work travel schedules around a child's sports season, if possible.
Being an integral part of your child's sports experiences is a big deal, even if it is a challenge. It may not be easy to make all the games, but try to go to as many as possible and watch how your child grows as a person through their sports experience. Your child will cherish seeing you at as many games as possible.