This deserves a Note of its own...And if you have kids who play sports you will quickly see why. If you don't have kids who play sports, then feel free to excuse yourself. But please close the door on your way out, I might get loud here...
It is so EASY to bitch about "those parents". You know, the ones who get nutso-psycho at kid sporting events. We've all seen them, right? The mom or dad who is yelling at their kid, other kids, the ref/ump/offical and who always has a better line up or game plan than the coach. In house league sports this is obviously over the top and we can look down our noses at such behavior and tell that parent to take a Valium, shut up and sit down. With any luck the offensive, out of line parent gets booted and if he/she is on the other team we can spread the word via PTOs and emails that there is a crazed parent on that team. We all chuckle, feel bad for the offender's spouse and kids, ("Can you imagine his poor SON? Oh, that kid must live with constant criticism!"; "I know! I heard he yells at the secretaries at school whenver it is indoor recess too!"). It is so easy, and of course appropriate, to judge such ridiculous behavior, right?
However, throw try-outs, registration/roster fees of a couple thousand dollars, and 8:00 a.m. Saturday games in Bumpkinville into the mix and suddenly you DO have the right to demand a better outcome. Ok, well not really, since we are still talking about kids....but still, when parents are shelling out thousands and rearranging family bat mitzvahs to attend a 5th grade sporting event, things are clearly "not just for fun" anymore. I'm not saying it is right to be the over the top parent once your kid starts playing a "travel" sport; I'm just saying I get how the line gets blurred and suddenly you find yourself playing politics and wishing bad things about the star of the other team who slide tackled your baby.
I do my best to appear like I don't mind...but I do mind. I HATE losing or coming in second. I do not make a habit of it in my personal life and never have. Of course I say all the right things to my students and my sons, "You played your best."; "Once the game is over, it's over, we move on."; or, "You guys just couldn't get a break, sometimes that happens." But really, that sucks! Who wants to lose? Being a good sport? That really means being a good loser...and THAT is a massive oxymoron. If you are so good, then you wouldn't lose! But ah, we have to set good examples for our kids and be supportive. There are plenty of times I want to scream across the field, "Keep running! You look like a slacker!" But I can't do that. Imagine the other parents, "OMG, she's insane!"; "Thank goodness my kids were never in her class!" LOL...
Really, I do want to yell at my kid at times...he's good on a bad day and fabulous on most days. So, if he gives up, it annoys me. And the check I wrote at the start of the season doesn't help either. But I keep my mouth shut and try to only yell encouraging things. My father keeps telling me I get too keyed up at games. My brother played travel hockey his whole life and I don't remember my dad EVER getting pissed off or too keyed up. (My mother of course never went to any games so that point is moot.) My father has conceded that travel sports are different than they were when we were kids. It is a lot more and a lot sooner. Geez, my 5th grader's soccer team practices more than my husband's high school hockey team did in the 1980's, and they won state championships (GBN still sucks though).
Why is it so much so soon now? Is it because as parents we demand it? Then why do we bitch and moan about schlepping to the practices and games? Is it because we really think our kid will go pro? Yeah right...I can just see all the little Jewish North Shore boys taking over the MLB, NBA and MLS in 10 years....Ooh, look out! They might have to start stocking challah and brown mustard at the concessions. Hmmm....maybe it is because our children are a reflection of ourselves? I can not take credit for ANY athletic ability in my kid. But it sure is fun when he scores. ;-)
What is it exactly that leads us to demand this type of activity level in our kids? Do you realize how many parents actually think that having sports practice is a viable excuse for not doing homework? Seriously! Clearly, *I* do not do that...but it is a not so uncommon occurrence in my classroom. I also recently listened to a parent explain that they don't go to church anymore and haven't been in 2 years except for Christmas and Easter because hockey is every Sunday. Really? Now, THOSE are the kind of parents we can raise our eyebrows at. What exactly would youth hockey do if EVERYONE said, "No, we can't play on Sundays. We have church or temple."? The boys I knew in Sunday school played sports and went to religious school...it didn't have to be one or the other back then.
It continues though...because as much as parents complain, they LIKE it. They like being the parent who sacrifices for their kid to get to every game. They like being the parent of the star pitcher or the kid who scores the winning goal. Or, they HOPE to be that parent. And deep down, there is nothing wrong with that...if you can control yourself and maintain a calm, patient and nurturing outward demeanor.
And that can be MUCH harder than it looks. ;-)