Six-years ago I held my inaugural season as a youth sports business owner. Toward the end of my first opening day, a parent came up to me and had multiple complaints. This loud and angry parent continued to yell that the teams were uneven, and what I preached about sportsmanship clearly wasn’t being executed. I went home that night thinking, “what have I gotten myself into?” Six-years later, you can find that dad on the sidelines, watching his two kids in my leagues, and working for us on the weekends.
If you are going to run a youth sports business, you need to add a thick layer to your skin. Parents will provide feedback on the good, and more on the not so good. Sometimes it will be shrill, and sometimes it will be loud. A child’s participation in outside activities is an emotional thing. You must cut through the emotion, get to the core issue, AND welcome feedback. You want that criticism, and you’ll want to listen. Remember that all consumers provide feedback because they care.
We make it a point to cut out all negativity at our league games. That means the parents cannot yell at officials, other kids, or coaches. We find positivity is the best motivator for kids. But that doesn’t prevent parents from yelling at me. So, I learned to toughen up, not take it personally, and to listen well. If you want to be successful, you have to. Every time someone complains, there is an opportunity there to help that parent, that child, and possibly my league.
I found a great post on dealing with parents at Basketball Coach Hub. It is from a coach’s perspective, but is applicable to league administrators/owners as well.
Are you going to get some lunatics that you cannot please? Absolutely. Just remember that they are the extreme case, and learn how to discern a nut from a concerned parent.
If you can’t handle the truth and receive it with the right mindset, then don’t get involved in a youth sports business.