DP Editorial: Calm down Mom & Dad

By: Austin Alexander-November 18, 2007

Warning! This article is going to step on some toes but will hopefully also serve as an educational editorial for anyone who is the parent of an athlete.

In our sport, evaluators find themselves interacting quite often with the parents of baseball players. Whether it be behind the backstop, finding cover during a rain delay or standing in line at the concession stand. Correspondence between coaches and parents occur often via email, phone calls and during the recruiting process.

On behalf of virtually every coach and scout on the planet: Calm down mom and dad!

Parents, not the teenagers, can make a mess of the recruiting process early and often. It doesn’t matter what state you’re in, parents nearly always have an agenda when they have the attention of evaluators. They love to tell stories about their children and sell their son to anyone who will listen. Understand this, players sell themselves, not your words. That coach or scout is not going to recruit that player because YOU believe he is a good player. Your opinion of your child will not improve his draft status or scholarship offer.

In fact, the reverse can be true.

Parents gain reputations, good and bad, just like the player does. Coaches don’t spend time in the bullpen or batting cage with parents at the next level. They coach the player. If a parent is perceived to be a high maintenence parent, that can sometimes be all it takes to tip the scales away from an opportunity for your child. I call it a tie-breaker. Evaluators see SO many players. If in their eyes, they believe two players are close to equal, a problem parent can essentially blow their kid’s chance to play at his dream school. If you have caused problems in his high school program or been a thorn in the side of his travel coach, that information will be uncovered. Trust me, it happens.

At this point in the article, you have likely thought of parents that I am describing. Maybe YOU are that parent.

Understand  a few things. There is a difference between telling stories and asking questions. There is a difference between running into a coach and hunting someone down. There is a difference between initiating email after email after email versus returning one. FYI, college coaches and pro scouts DO NOT care about how he played in a 12 and under all-star game. Most evaluators don’t even look at high school statistics. See where I’m going with this?

When an evaluator arrives at the ballpark to evaluate, he is in his office. He likely drove a great distance to get there and will get home long after his children have already gone to bed. He is probably making and receiving calls throughout the game regarding all of the other balls he is juggling…all while he is trying to bear down on 18 players. The last thing he needs is to be bombarded by overzealous parents who think they have something important to tell him.

Afterall, how would you like to be in the middle of a busy Friday afternoon and have him plop down in your office to tell you how amazing his teenager is?

It is the same thing. If you are guilty of this act, you may think back to how nice the coach was and that he talked to you for four innings, he answered every question, etc… He HAS to. They will never be rude but they do file it away.

People care about their children and they should. But think of the co-worker that constantly brags about their son, that friend of yours that just goes on and on about their daughter. The difference between you and that college coach you “just happened to run into” is that he hears everyone’s story, not just yours. It really gets old, just to be honest. Trust me, if an evaluator wants to speak with “little Johnny’s” parents, he will find you.

So next time you begin a sentence with, “I’m not just saying this because he is my son…”, please stop yourself because you are about to cram your kid down someone else’s throat.

Love your children, Lord knows I sure love mine. But know the difference between helping and hurting him.

Just a little food for thought.