At the weekend, I went out for a ride on my motocross bike. I wasn’t racing, I was just at the practice track with a few friends. Whilst I enjoyed my day for the most part, I found myself getting more and more irritated by the bloke parked three of four vans down from us. His son (who was about 10 years old) was riding round on a little 65 at a pace that I thought was fairly respectable, but his dad evidently didn’t. I’d thought these angry ‘motocross dads’ were a thing of the past, but it would seem they’re not.
Seeing this stupid bloke berating his son every time he came off the track, for not trying hard enough or not going fast enough, reminded me of my childhood, and the weekends spent at the motocross track with my dad. And, I hasten to say, not because my dad behaved in the same way. But because over the years, we both witnessed plenty of other motocross dads bullying their kids. It was horrible to see back then and now I’m (a little bit) grown up, it’s just as bad. And it’s not doing anyone any good at all.
I understand that if you’ve spent a load of time and money taking your kids racing, or to participate in any sport, and they’re not really trying, it might be a little bit frustrating. But if you think effing and jeffing at them, and smacking them on the head is going to make them pull their finger out, you’re an idiot. All that’s going to do is make them resent you. And resent the fact that you’re dragging them all over the country every weekend to race a bike; rather than appreciate it. I’ve never met a child that enjoys being shouted at by his parents, and if that’s all they ever get when you go racing, they’ll knock it on the head as soon as they’re old enough to make the decision.
Some of the lads I grew up racing with have done really well. Some have gone on to be world champions. But none of them ones had these so-called ‘motocross dads’. They all had supportive parents who nurtured them, gave them opportunities and pointed them in the right direction. Not parents that screamed and shouted at them at any given opportunity.
I realise it’s not my place to tell anyone how to bring their kids up, particularly since I don’t have any of my own, but that didn’t stop me considering strolling over to this bloke at the weekend and sticking the nut on him. The lad wasn’t enjoying himself, and his dad certainly wasn’t. And there was no constructive criticism either, no advice. It was just several different ways of saying “you’re not trying hard enough,” punctuated by swearwords and insults.
If that sounds like you, please give it a rest. You’re son or daughter isn’t going to be a world champion if you carry on bullying them. If you do, it’ll only be a matter of time until they pluck up the courage to tell you they don’t want to go racing anymore; or to do whatever sport you happen to be pushing them into.
Racing bikes is one of the best things in the world, as long as you’re passionate about it. But as soon as you kill the passion, it’s just a massive waste of money and time. So don’t kill it. Nurture it.