Beyond the Barking Dog

by Jim Thompson (Author of the Double-Goal Coach)

 My favorite Family Circus comic strip is set in the middle of the night. Barfy, the family dog, is barking up a storm. The dad gets out of bed, irritated that hes been awakened from a much-needed sleep. He yells at the dog, which hangs its head. Then the cartoonist pans back so that we see a larger view. In the far corner of the yard, a burglar is retreating, unseen by the dad.


We, who see the Big Picture know that the dogs barking has protected the family from burglary. The dad, who sees only the Little Picture, is angry at the dog for disturbing him.


This cartoon can serve as a metaphor for youth sports. Youth coaches and parents can be overwhelmed by an enormous amount of Little Pictures filled with barking dogs. These Little Pictures often have a compelling power to obscure the Big Picture.


How our children do in any given sporting event is the Little Picture. Whether they win or lose, play well or badly, laugh or cry after the game its all the Little Picture.


What children take away from youth sports is to help them become successful and fulfilled in life is the Big Picture. Remaining physically active throughout life, learning to bounce back from difficulties with renewed determination, discovering how to support other people within a team context this is the Big Picture.


You know, Its Cold on the Slopes


Joel Mark, president of American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO), told me of a boy who had always played soccer. Then one year, he didnt come out for soccer. He was asked Why arent you playing soccer this year?

The boy thought for a second, and then answered, My dad doesnt know anything about snowboarding. And, you know, its cold on the slopes, so he doesnt come and watch me. So I get to snowboard without someone yelling at me all the time.