Motherhood, insanity and everyday life.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Real Mom’s Guide to Children’s Sports

Well, it’s that time of year folks. The tulips are blooming. The gutters are overflowing with winter tree crap and parents everywhere are searching high and low for the left shin guard or the moldy cleats for their star athletes. The chill is still in the air, but people are loading lawn chairs, blankets and other assorted outdoor survival gear into their already-brimming mini-vans knowing that they’ll be spending weekends outside watching their children play soccer, baseball, softball or any other spring sport. I think it’s high time that we review the parents’ and spectators’ etiquette for viewing or assisting our children.

You’re On The Sideline for a Reason
These are CHILDREN'S sports, not mom-or-dad-living-vicariously-through-their-potential-Mia-Hamm sports. It’s your kid’s game, not yours, so know that before you park your lawn chair strategically next to the field. No matter how well or how poorly your child or their team plays, it’s still their team, not yours.

Most of You Are Not The Coach
I know, some of you actually got roped into that job description for real, but most of you are merely spectators and supporters. Do NOT, under any circumstance, forget that during the game you are there to chauffeur, spectate and then chauffeur home. Do NOT yell instructions to your child. It is confusing to your kid and irritating to the coach. You might have the best strategy in the world – save it. It’s Not. Your. Job. Yelling your kid’s name will result in embarrassment to them and you. Nobody will ever want to speak to you again. And good luck getting a ride for your kid in a pinch.

Don't Even THINK Of Criticizing A Coach, Assistant or Manager
These people are not paid to put up with a group of overbearing parents. It doesn't matter if your child is Alex Rodriguez or Michael Jordan, the coach is doing his/her best to give all of the kids the chance to play with the skills he has and the team he was given. The assistants and the manager are trying to make it all organized so that practices run efficiently and you know where and what time the games are. If you have an intense need to impart your sports knowledge on someone, call sports radio and leave the coach alone. Really, it's better this way.

You’re The Snack Parent, Not Rachel Ray
In many sports, you’re asked to bring a “healthy snack” (an oxymoron if I’ve ever heard one) to one or more of the games. When it’s your turn, don’t grandstand. The New York Times food critic will not be tasting your treats. Orange slices and a juice box will win you friends among the other parents. Granola Cupcakes with Soccer Ball Frosting will get you talked about on the playground after school.

The Referees Don’t Care What You Think
Once again, it’s time to remember that these are KIDS’ sports. Not the Super Bowl, or the World Series or the NBA Finals. Understand that there will be bad calls...lots of them. There will also be no calls in cases where there should be many calls. Nobody wants to sit there all day just to make things right. Other people have a life and you should too.

The Outcome Is NOT The Ref’s Fault
Do not let your kids fall into the trap of blaming the referees for their team losing. This is a bad habit that will follow them throughout their school years and career and make them hated among their peers. Teach them early on to accept responsibility and learn that S$%T happens and they’ll be better people because of this.

Cheer For The Other Team From Time To Time
This is hard and will feel very unnatural but it shows you’re a better person than you are. Stand in front of the mirror and practice saying phrases like: “Great shot.” “Nice move.” “Quite a player.” No, you don’t have to be enthusiastic, but you should shoot for once per game if possible.

Cheer For Your Kid and His/Her Team, Even If They Suck
This will be even harder than cheering for the other team. Again, stand in front of the mirror and practice these phrases: “You can do it!” “Nice effort!” “Ooh, close one!” “Way to stay with it!” and, of course, “Great teamwork!” Enthusiasm is key here and yes, sometimes it may require an Oscar-winning performance. After the game, it’s important to say something...anything positive to your child. You may have to work on this during the game if it’s a blowout. Conversely, there is absolutely no point in criticizing your child after a huge defeat. If you think it’s a good idea, walk out to the parking lot and slam your fingers in the car door. This will quell any and all critical tendencies.

Wash the Uniform Carefully...and At Least Once Per Season
We’re not looking for perfection here, but if your kid is on the Red Raiders, you do not want him to be the only player in pink. Cold water is your friend and the dryer is not. If you do not have time to think this through, skip it. Your kid will smell badly either way and Joan Rivers is not there to evaluate your kid’s uniform.

Have Fun Watching Because It Won’t Last

Your kid’s chances of being a professional athlete are one in a million. And even if he/she is, their athletic career still won’t last that long. What I’m trying to say is that your days of standing on the sidelines watching tiny kids run around in circles having no clue how to score are limited. These days are priceless. Don’t wish them away by dreaming of their future greatness. There is nothing sweeter than high-fiving another parent when the worst kid on the team (perhaps yours?) finally scores her first and only goal all season. It’s a joy that can’t be found anywhere else. Cherish it.


At 5:37 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen! Can I make this into a flyer? :)

At 5:44 AM , Blogger Star said...

What a great post! You hit so many nails right on the head. I went to a softball game once and a father on the other team loudly berated his daughter after she got a hot, becasue she ran like a girl!

At 7:50 AM , Blogger Linda said...

Once again, great advice! My 5 y/o has no interest (yet) in sports, but I'm sure it's going to come...the 2 y/o will probably want to be involved NOW...

Michele sent me!

At 7:55 AM , Blogger Lisa said...

awesome job! Every "sports parent" should be require to read this!!!!
Michele sent me today.

At 8:05 AM , Blogger Michele said...

Do you know that I love your advice - such common sense delivered with wonderful wit? You do know that I am always impressed by you, yes? Well, now you do!

Have a glorious weekend.


At 10:06 AM , Blogger Daughter In Law said...

Oh, the good times ahead of me. You mean organized weekly playgroups aren't the end of my interaction with annoying parents? terrific.

At 11:38 AM , Blogger grody jo-dee said...

"you are the snack parent, not rachel ray"

you couldn't have said it any better! i once went to my nephew's soccer game, and the snack mom had crustless finger sandwiches. i asked her if they were left over from an adult party, and she said she made them specially for 10 YR OLD BOYS! omi darling, get a clue.

At 11:39 AM , Anonymous Maryanne said...

Well done. My husband and I have been involved with kid's sports for years and nine times out of ten when there's a problem, it's because of the parents. People need to remember it's the kids who are playing, learning, experiencing and hopefully having fun. We've had city basketball games ban parents this year because they were fighting in the stands at the games. How pathetic is that?

By the way, You've just been tagged. You're it. Check out my blog and you'll see why!

At 2:54 AM , Blogger Juliabohemian said...

This is a great post. My parents think my brother is the next Nolan Ryan. Whenever anything goes wrong in a game, it is some kind of conspriracy. I can't believe the teenage kind of BS that goes on with the parents on these teams. The kids just want to play. If there is more than that going on then parents are putting ideas into their kid's heads and that is just sick.

At 6:07 AM , Blogger Dave said...

What a fantastic post, I have been a boys football (Soccer) manager from U8 to the current U14 (son in team, you know how it is) and if only all parents would follow your advice!

Here from Michele's today.

At 6:10 AM , Blogger Paste said...

Very, very, very good advice!
Popped by from Michele's.

At 10:16 AM , Blogger all that's right, or not said...

I stumbled across your blog and wanted you to know I enjoyed it! For real on the Rachel Ray thing!! Loved your I can't quit you post, but a little scary. My kids are only 2, 5, and 7,it breaks my heart to think they won't talk to me on the way to school, ect. My husband coaches and I am amazed of how important this gets to all of them. You should put your post in the town paper!!

At 4:57 PM , Anonymous Anne Glamore said...

You summed it up. I do have one tip to add. The twins are playing soccer this year instead of baseball, and it's Bill's year to coach them. We know nothing about soccer, so he's helping out-- not the main coach.

2 weeks in a row, NO REAL coach has shown up to corral a bunch of 7 year olds who have been dropped off by their moms. Bill can herd kids with the best of them, but he can't coach soccer worth a shit.

so- if you;re the coach, please attend the practice, or cancel it.

At 6:17 AM , Blogger Red said...

I can relate we have 7 children and my experance was most of the dads were living through their children, and forgeting this is the kids childhood .
here by way of michele's
thank you

At 9:45 AM , Blogger Sandy said...

Your list ought to be printed and handed out on soccer and Little League fields everywhere as a public service.

I have to say, when I hear parents saying things like "I don't know if he'll like it but ever since we learned we were having a boy we've been impatiently waiting for him to be old enough for Little League" I feel like puking. My son might play some day. My daughter may play some day. But if they do, it's because they came to me and asked. AND if they do I'll be sure to carry your list with me as a reminder.

At 10:13 PM , Blogger Colin Wee said...

I've got a related post When Should Your Child Start a Career in High Level Sports? Great topic! Colin


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