I’m an expert at attending sports functions. Just sat through 11 3-0n-3 basketball games this past weekend and there doesn’t seem to be any end in sight as my oldest is still playing softball in college, my middle child is headed to play football in college and my youngest, just finishing her sophomore year in high school, also wants to play in college.
It all started 18 years ago when my now-21-year-old became a little gymnast. All three kids started sports before they started school and between the three of them, played 8 different sports. If you add up all the hours I’ve spent watching my kids play sports and my husband coach over the past 27 years, it would amount to over 9 straight months of watching competitions–24/7.
Through the years I’ve learned a few lessons on how to appropriately behave as a spectator. Of course, I blew it a lot at the beginning–yelled things to the refs I shouldn’t have, struggled with bad attitudes towards coaches or cocky players–and sometimes I still have to fight the urge to revert to such behaviors. But for the most part, these are the guidelines I try to adhere to as I spectate.
1. Be your kid’s cheerleader, but don’t be annoying.
When my kids were small, they loved to hear us cheer and yell for them. But when they got older–somewhere around middle school and definitely in high school–we realized it was time to show a little self-control. This is my blog and I’m gonna say it….there’s nothing more annoying than sitting near parents who scream and holler for every basket or every strike or every tackle. Ted and I just sit there and laugh, thinking that those parents need to get a life. Really. They act like their whole life is wrapped up in their kids’ athletic successes, acting as if every game is a major championship, and it it is embarrassing to watch them make fools of themselves. Of course, we cheer for our kids when they score or make a good play, but some parents just go way overboard and not only embarrass themselves, they embarrass their athlete child.
2.Be a spectator.
Not a coach. We entrusted our children to the instruction of their coaches. We discussed strategies and ideas to help them become better players, but we did this at home, not from the bleachers during the game. Our athlete-kids need to focus on the game and on what their coach is telling them what to do; they do not need to hear us yelling constant instructions from the stands. Another behavior that is annoying to both kids and other spectators.
I’m not just talking about yelling at the refs or cowardly spewing negative comments to the coaches either, I’m talking about what you say in your little parental groups that others can overhear–the moan you let slip when that not-so-talented player is put into the game or loudly chastising a player for his or her mistake (not just your own child).
When my oldest played freshman volleyball, she did not start and at 5 feet 4 inches, she was not the deadliest volleyball player out there. One game she was substituted in and one of the parents near me said quite loudly, “oh no, what are you doing?” Talk about a momma bear’s anger! I had to restrain myself not to immediately go over there and give him a piece of my mind. After the game, however, I did confront him with these words: “Look, I know my daughter is not the best volleyball player out there, but she works hard to get on the court, so I would appreciate it if you would keep your negative comments to yourself!”
Now go enjoy the game!