Sports parents are a category all their own – there are countless news stories across the nation that detail amateur leagues where parents are nearly (or actually) banned due to their inability to keep their cool in the stands. While you’d think it was young players who might get a little too caught up in the heat of the moment, turns out it’s their parents cursing, yelling and kicking on the sidelines. It’s cringe-worthy, yet it’s a staple of many sporting events.
Why? It’s the ‘I raised him/her’ phenomena. Many parents of athletes feel they are in some way responsible for an athlete’s success - just look at Jack Johnson, whose parents bankrupted him due to a misplaced sense of entitlement regarding their son's salary. A parent is responsible for not only feeding and clothing their budding athletic superstar, but for driving them around to countless practices and games, logging many, many miles in their pursuit to support their child's dreams. Putting in all that time and effort to helping your athlete child means that you’re free to say or do absolutely anything you want, doesn’t it? Most would say no, but that’s what many overbearing sports parents seem to think.
One would think that sideline-shouting parents stop once the players leave the little leagues and turn pro, but that’s apparently not the case. Many superstar athletes are saddled with a parent who is perhaps a bit too vocal, whether it be at the games themselves or to the press. Their intentions may very well be good – after all, they just want their child to succeed, to get all the playing time, to win their game, to be the best they can be. Unfortunately, they don’t always handle it the right way. Here is a list of ten overbearing mothers and fathers of professional athletes.
10 Sonya Curry
How can I benefit from my basketball superstar son’s pay check while simultaneously motivating him to play the best he can? It’s a question that point guard Stephen Curry’s mother asked herself, and she found an amusing solution. Curry’s mother revealed to San Francisco Chronicle columnist Ann Killion that she has a verbal contract with her son – he owes her money for his mistakes. To be specific, he has to pay out $100 for every game in which he makes over three turnovers. Sonya keeps a tally and presents him with a shopping list of her demands at the end of every season. Curry has spoken publicly about the deal, saying it’s a great motivator. Sparking her son’s competitive spirit while keeping her closet filled with designer shoes? Sounds like a win-win for Mama Curry.
9 Piotr Wozniacki
Everyone knows tennis superstar Caroline Wozniacki, with her movie star good looks and incredible skill. Perhaps less known is the fact that her coach is also her father, Piotr. Thinking he’d be taking it easy on her? The exact opposite. Piotr has been caught on video giving Caroline huge court-side lectures, gesticulating wildly and transforming his talented pro athlete daughter into what looks like a sullen teenager. And daughter Caroline isn’t the only outlet for his frustrations. He’s also been known to be very vocal courtside, yelling at referees from his position in the stands, to the embarrassment of his daughter and everyone sitting around him.
8 Aleta Kiel
A couple years ago, Gunner Kiel was an incredibly promising high school quarterback who was ranked number 1 in the nation. He basically had his pick of colleges with great sports programs, and it appeared that he was set to go to Louisiana State University to polish and perfect his football skills – he even made an oral commitment to the team. All of a sudden, seemingly out of nowhere, he didn’t show up to LSU for a meeting designed for the new football team members, even though by all accounts he really wanted to. The reason behind the baffling decision? His mother apparently threw an emotional fit until Gunner agreed to enroll at Notre Dame. His father Kip Kiel has spoken about Gunner’s indecision, and Aleta’s role in it all, and while you can’t know these things for sure, evidence seems to point to a son sacrificing to please his mother.
7 Tony Rasmus
Tony Rasmus wears two hats – former coach and overbearing father. Colby Rasmus has gone on record about his father, telling the media that he’s trying not to talk to his father because of the negative influence he was having. Rather than building his son’s confidence, it seems Mr. Rasmus was tearing Colby down. Tony raised a stable of four sons with what seemed to be one sole goal in mind – to make it onto a Major League Baseball team. His track record is good, but at what cost? Despite Colby’s statements that he didn’t want to listen to his father, Tony has never been able to keep his mouth shut, talking to various media outlets and sharing all his opinions and his son, his son’s coaches, and more.
6 Pamela McGee
Mama McGee probably knows a little more about basketball than the average player’s mom, seeing that she was in the WNBA (second overall pick in the 1997 draft) and was later an assistant coach. Her biggest passion, it seems, is defending every single thing her basketball player son JaVale does. After her son made a move in a game that appeared to be merely showing off, which sparked the judgement of many viewers and fans, she went off about her son. She spoke about how, if nurtured, he could be the cornerstone around which a franchise could be built, how he was trying to break up the monotony of the losing team he was stuck on before finally finishing with this gem – “my son is the future of the NBA.” Moral of the story? Don’t upset Mama McGee, it seems, or she’ll go Mama Bear on you.
5 Walter Bartoli
Marion Bartoli is a former French tennis player who retired a few years ago. Her father, Walter, was her coach for a period, having first introduced her to tennis when she was a child. However, Walter apparently didn’t always know how to hold his tongue when it came to game time. He was apparently being so distracting during a Wimbledon game that Marion opted to have him ejected from the stadium. One can only guess what he was saying to make her react in that way. Whether she overreacted in that particular situation or not, it takes at least a marginally overbearing parent to inspire that sort of move.
4 Sharon Curry-Drew
Ah, sports media. In a column in Sports Illustrated, writer Seth Davis detailed some of Sharon Curry-Drew’s behaviour, and it definitely isn’t pretty. Her son, point guard Larry Drew II, bounced from UNC to UCLA fairly suddenly, and it was apparently in some part due to his mother’s behaviour. She would do things such as call the coaches to complain about her son’s playing minutes and shots, she complained about how many tickets she received for the college games, she complained about her seats at the games, etc., etc. She didn’t limit her overbearing mom-ing to Larry, however, as her son Landon also apparently got kicked off his high school team because of his mother’s unbearable meddling. Larry Drew II has been playing with the Philadelphia 76ers recently. It’s too early to know how things will turn out for him in the pro sports world, but one thing’s for sure – he should try to keep his mother far, far away from all of his games.
3 3. Francesc Fabregas
Cesc Fabregas’ father committed one of the biggest sports parent no-no’s when he went to the media during his son’s trade negotiations. Not only was he not authorized to do so, he wasn’t completely clear on all the details and misspoke about what was going on in his son’s career. There have been reports of Cesc’s parents being very controlling with their son, putting him down publicly. Papa Fabregas is definitely an overbearing parent that Cesc would probably like to be able to quiet down a little bit.
2 Andrea MacDonald
It’s the kind of story that ridiculous movies are based on. Five-star football superstar recruit verbally commits to a school that he wants to go to, Arkansas in Alex Collins’ case. He appears to have a desire to attend that institution. Recruit receives a letter of intent. Recruit’s mother steals his letter of intent so that he can’t go. Based on a true story. It really happened. It’s obviously a complicated story, and Collins’ mother obviously believed she was doing the best thing for her son, but still. That’s overbearing parenting at its finest.
1 Bonnie and Carl Lindros
A double whammy – two overbearing parents for the price of one. Eric Lindros is a lucky, lucky guy. While Lindros has a successful 13-year NHL career to his name (he’s now retired), it’s no thanks to his notoriously awful parents. Angelo Bumbacco even mentioned in a 2001 article that “the greatest thing that could ever happened to Eric Lindros was coming to play in Sault St. Marie, just to get the hell away from those parents.” Ouch. Lindros’ parents seemed to want to control every aspect of his career, to stick their fingers in every deal and decision their son made. They even, apparently, kept detailed charts on who passed to Eric in Philadelphia and who didn’t. Who does that? They have also yelled at a whole host of coaches and general managers. In the book of overbearing sports parents, these two definitely make the cover.