At first you hear cheers and music and people shouting greetings to each other. The band is playing, and kids are laughing and talking with their school mates. Whether official or unofficial, the bleachers are usually divided into “student section” and “parent section”.
Then the game begins. And somewhere along the way, the conversations change. My college son learned this the other night as he sat in the bleachers at a high school football game, the first time he’d sat in the “parent section” since he was a young boy and would sit with me. Now, at age 20, he was listening to the people around him.
“People are really hard on the kids,” he mentioned to me the next day. “Especially the QB. They were really critical of the kids’ mistakes and kept saying that the players should be doing this or that.” Although it was true that the QB had a rough start with a couple interceptions, he eventually settled down and made up for it later in the game with two TD passes. Whether or not he made up for it, is not the issue, however. The issue is…why are spectators so critical of kids working hard and doing the best they can?
“Now you know what I’ve been hearing for 27 years,” I joked. Being a coach’s wife has exposed me to just about every type of bleacher conversation and criticism you can imagine. “Pretty sad, isn’t it?”
Oh, how easy it is to sit in the bleachers and analyze the mistakes of others. Especially kids. We adults are such experts, are we not? After all, we’ve never made mistakes, and especially not when we were kids. Instead, we call it gaining experience.
Parents, grandparents, spectators–next time we are tempted to criticize a young athlete for his mistakes on the field, let’s show a little patience and understanding. Kids will make mistakes, and they will learn from their mistakes. As we all do.
And then read more on how to help your athletes after they do make mistakes.