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by Abigail Van Buren

Out of Control Parents Teach How Not to Be Good Sports

DEAR ABBY: Basketball season is over, and I am appalled at some of the things that have happened to our team. Because of one family, our team has been torn apart. The coach did nothing to deserve this attack and has always acted in the most professional way. He has never embarrassed one child or our school in any way. I hope you will print my letter because there is a good lesson in it for all of us.

Abby, please share with your readers the following 10 guidelines given in the journal The Physician and Sportsmedicine for parents, to assure that blessings -- rather than curses -- come from their children's involvement in sports.

1. Make sure your children understand that win or lose, you love them.

2. Be realistic about your child's physical ability.

3. Help your child set realistic goals.

4. Emphasize "improved" performance, not winning.

5. Don't relive your own athletic past through your child.

6. Provide a safe environment for training and competition.

7. Control your emotions at games and events.

8. Be a "cheerleader" for your child AND other children on the team.

9. Respect your child's coaches. Communicate with them in a positive way.

10. Be a positive role model.

Parents: Be sensible and responsible, and keep your priorities in order! There is a lot more at stake than a win/loss record.

Abby, I cannot sign my name to this letter. It's not because I'm ashamed; it's because of fear of more controversy. -- AN INTERESTED FAN IN THE U.S.A.

DEAR INTERESTED FAN: Every year I hear about parents who behave irrationally and emotionally at their children's sporting events. Parents who cannot control their behavior, or who lose their perspective and project their own frustrated ambitions onto their children, should not attend sporting events.

I urge all parents to review the guidelines you have submitted, and consider the messages they are giving to their children -- intentionally or unintentionally.