Whoa There, Athletic Association Dads

I’ve discovered a species of parents worse than the PTA moms- the athletic association dads. My experience with them is limited to basketball, but feel free to insert any other sport where kids are expected to perform well above their age and maturity level because, according to my girlfriends, it’s basically same dads, different sport.

These dudes are intense. And convinced they are molding the next Michael Jordan or LeBron James. Hate to break it to you fellas, but there is a 1.3% chance your son is making it into the NBA (and that’s only if they are one of the 2.9% of high school players who make it onto a college basketball team). So, you might want to simmer the fuck down.

I live in one of the largest school districts in the state of Georgia and the demand of athletic perfection from volunteer coaches starts at an early age. There are performance evaluations for every sport starting in kindergarten. Yes, your tiny kindergartener is required to show up and show out in front of a line of coaches silently scribbling on clipboards as they rank your child’s athletic prowess in a desperate attempt to create the ultimate park and rec team.

We’ve avoided this ridiculous evaluation requirement for the past few years. My son was happy to play basketball for a private company I paid big bucks to, to make sure he got ample playing time. But my (not so athletically inclined) third grader decided this year to take it to the big time- the athletic association.

I’ve been told horror stories from other moms about the seriousness of these evaluations and I was not disappointed. At the beginning of the evaluation the boys (ages 9-10) were shown a ridiculous drill that involved alternate hand dribbling, layups, foul shots and 3-point shooting (Spoiler alert on my son making a 3-point shot- he can’t. He’s 9 and has been rocking the 50th percentile in height since day one so the only thing you are getting out of him at the 3-point line is a major air ball.). These skills were all to be performed while being yelled at to “ Go! Go! Go! Go! Go! Run faster!” by the athletic association dad standing in the middle of the court tossing basketballs at them.

And, just in case we forgot who was in charge, the parents were also admonished and sternly advised not to make any noise during the evaluations.

Yes, I know. There are kids my kid’s age that can do all of that which was expected of them. I’ve seen it. Congrats to you smug parents who hit the genetic lottery with your super tall kid. Spoiler alert #2- your kid isn’t going pro either.

Bless my sweet kid. He stood in line, wide-eye and knees shaking, for a good twenty minutes before he left the line and burst into tears. Thanks, athletic association dads. Cheers. You made my kid cry before you even knew his name. That is not how I remember my days playing park and rec basketball.

My son loves to shoot hoops. But he also loves Cub Scout activities and video games and swinging on his swing set.

He’s not prepared to commit his childhood to just one sport and judging him in a quiet gym in front of 300 people isn’t what I’d call character building. This needs to stop. Your elementary school draft is not necessary. What is necessary is for you to instill in these children a love of the game. They do not need to know that they were ranked a tier 1, 2 or 3. What they need to know is that you care to mold not only their basketball skills but their character as well.

Am I worried that letting my son bail on his basketball evaluation is going to get him benched? Nah. Rumor has it the athletic association has a minimum playtime requirement for all participants. But, I’m going to get my “water boy’s mom” shirt ordered just in case.



About the author: Erin Gunti chose to become a writer and mother even though she is allergic to coffee. Thank God she is not allergic to wine. You can find her on Twitter ( attempting to be witty, but mostly begging people to publish her.