Do you know Stephanie Rufa? She’s a thinker.
She even writes the blog So I’ve been thinking … and this is how something good always starts. (I’m glad it’s that way for her. For me, it’s usually how tales of woe begin. They end with sprains, stains and sometimes litigation).
But anyway …
I’m happy to have Stephanie here at the CD today. She’s here to talk about the things we parents do on the sidelines. You know, when we forget that it’s just a game. And set not-so-stellar examples for the kids we brought there.
Incidentally, I’m at her place today, too, like a less-freaky version of Freaky Friday (don’t ask which of us is Lindsay Lohan).
You’ll love it over there. You’ll find Stephanie covers it all, from music to cocktails to sports. I love the sports stuff especially. But you have to make sure and read “January is a weird month.” Trust me on this one.
I’m at her place to tell what it’s like to raise competitive girls. I have a PhD in the subject. Which is why it’s a good thing I’m there. Because I’ve been thinking, too.
Do you watch sports? Play sports? Have kids who play sports?
Is it fun? It should be. Sports should be fun for everyone involved – whether you’re a little kid playing in your first soccer game or a high-school senior playing your last moments on the basketball court – your memories of playing sports should be fun. I think the kids get it or at least they start out “getting it.” I think sometimes we parents forget.
Did you hear about the hockey game where this young, new-ish referee missed a few calls? And made a couple of bad calls? It wasn’t one-sided – the bad and missed calls were pretty much equally shared by both teams on the ice – the ref just made a few mistakes. Rookie mistakes, you know, being new-ish and all.
Some fans in the crowd were having none of it though, they yelled, banged on the glass, and shouted at him. “Get your eyes checked, ref!” “Call it, that’s tripping!” “YOU SUCK!” Other things were said in the stands among the fans, adults and kids, including the ever popular, “This is bullsh*#!”
You know what I’m talking about, right? You’ve heard them. The fans who yell like they need you to hear them – they must, they’re yelling! At the refs! If you’ve ever been to a professional sports event of any sort – not just hockey – you’ve heard these people in the stands.
Except the game I’m talking about wasn’t a pro game.
Mites are 8 and 9 years old.
The people yelling? Parents. And coaches.
And you probably didn’t hear about it because it’s not particularly newsworthy – considering it happens all the time.
So maybe you’ve heard about the hockey game where this one lady was so obnoxious she intentionally stood right in the middle of the visiting team’s fans, enthusiastically yelling and cheering for her team, while also cutting down the visiting team’s players, trying to engage (and I assume enrage) the fans around her?
It worked. Some of those fans started yelling back at her. She laughed and yelled more – at the players and now the fans around her. She spent the entire game spewing criticism and hate, enjoying every minute. And by that, I mean she was enjoying all of the attention and anger and frustration of the fans around her.
This scene didn’t end in the stands. It carried over as more fans started yelling at each other. When the game ended the fans left the building, the shouting continued, escalated, and in the parking lot the threats started. One guy shouted, “Let’s go!” at another, provoking a fight. Yep, an old-school, throw down fist-fight, right in the parking lot in front of everyone. Including kids.
Someone, sensing things were getting out of control, called the police who stopped the fight before anyone got hurt.
It was a bad scene.
You didn’t hear about it?
That must be because you don’t have a 12 year-old on one of those teams. Yeah, this happened at a Pee Wee hockey game.
The people involved? Their parents.
– About this one dad, so loud and critical during the games that a mom from the opposing team charged him in the stands and pushed him against the rails while screaming at him
– About this one fan (not even a parent) who was so mad about a perceived shortage of playing time given his girlfriend’s son that he shouted at and threatened a coach after the game, in front of lots of people, including kids
– About this grandmother who brings a stopwatch and note pad to all the games so she can keep track of her grandson’s playing time, you know, to be sure its fair
– About this one dad who, with 2 minutes and 30 seconds left in the game and his son’s line leaving the ice to return to the bench so the next line could come out, turned and yelled, “Well, this sucks, Timmy (not his real name) won’t be back out now, there’s not enough time left in the game!” He yelled this to the rest of us parents, because yes, it’s a real shame Timmy doesn’t get to play the last two minutes because it is someone else’s turn
Unfortunately the stories are endless. These examples are just a few from my experience over the years but I know I’m not alone in my experience. I’m using hockey as my example today but it’s not limited to hockey. If you have a child in sports or a child who competes you will experience this behavior in some form at some point.
And it’s not fun.
I would think that the majority of parents don’t go to a youth sports event with the intention of berating a ref, coach or player; or to provoke the parents and fans of the opposing team; or to do anything other than enjoy watching their child compete. The reality is, however, that poor behavior happens. Otherwise sane people end up “losing their minds” as well as their composure and any respect they may have garnered among the other player’s parents when they get over-involved and can’t maintain the perspective of why they attended in the first place: to watch their child play and have fun.
That’s what it’s all about, right? These kids, no matter age group or level of play, have the desire to be out there on the field, court, or rink because they want to have fun. They choose to play a sport because it looks like fun, they continue because it is fun. The fun is in the training, the challenge of learning something new, the friendships and the competition. The fun is also in knowing they have fans in the stands who cheer for them and enjoy watching them play.
There’s no fun in watching your mom scream at another mom. It’s not fun to hear your dad holler insults at the ref while you’re playing. It’s not fun to sit in the car listening to your parent(s) rip apart every call made during the game. Nor is it fun to hear your dad say the coach stinks because you didn’t get as much playing time as your teammate did.
These parents are ruining the games for their kids, the other parents, the coaches and the refs.
From what I can see, a lot of parents are missing the point. They are forgetting that it’s supposed to be about the kids having fun. They are forgetting that they are the example their children will emulate. They are forgetting that when their kid walks off the field, court or rink, they are looking for a smile, a high-five or a “good game” because someone enjoyed watching them play. They had fun playing – did you have fun watching?
It’s kids sports. It’s supposed to be fun.
Are we having fun, yet?
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