I have participated in organized sports since I was 8 years old. I have spent time watching my brothers play and have even dabbled in coaching myself. And now I spend a lot of time watching my son compete. So of course I have had experience with sports parents, both good and bad. I have also read a lot of blogs and articles about “those” parents. You know the type – call them passionate, call them invested, or, in extreme cases, call them just plain mean. I just read this article that nicely sums up how parents can be “good” or “bad” and it is worth a read.
We are very fortunate that the parents on our team are cool. There is no one who screams negative things at the boys during games or openly berates his or her child before, during, or after games. I mostly hear supportive, positive things and everyone seems to get along pretty well. I like that. As the goalie mom, I like that a lot. I have read (and heard) some stories about how goalie parents can’t sit with the others during games out of fear of overhearing how badly their child is playing or how it is all the goalie’s fault. Now, I don’t always sit with the other parents, but that is not because I don’t want to hear it. It’s because I am too jumpy to sit still and need space to pace. It’s my issue, not anyone else’s.
This past weekend at the tournament we were playing in I ran across some REALLy nice parents from an opposing team. I don’t want to get into any stereotyping, but I will say that these parents were from a southern team and, in my experience, you do run into nice people in the south. Not that there aren’t nice folks everywhere, but these folks were full of southern charm. They had only nice things to say about other teams and even criticism was pretty tame, like telling us that a team we had yet to face was “pretty small.” Now, I should note that some of the parents became my best friends when they came up to me and starting talking about how fantastic our goalie was during the finals. Since it was my kid in the net for that game, my feelings about these parents may be more favorable than they deserve. Ok, so they totally had me at “great goalie.” I’m a proud mama, what can I say?
To contrast, I did stand near one parent who was pretty awful, screaming at the ref and basically talking trash. And his kid, the goalie, was out on the ice pushing and hitting other players who came too close in his crease, collecting all kinds of penalties. Coincidence?
There is a great resource that I found a couple of years ago that gives great tips on how to be good sports parents for our kids. It is called Responsible Sports and you can sign up for emails that include short reminders and links to videos and articles for parents. I recommend giving it a try.
It is not easy to decide what to say and when to my son after practices and games. Sometimes I want to talk about something but he clearly does not. I am learning to let things go as he does and I am finding that he will bring things up when he wants to talk about them. So I am working on waiting and following his lead.
And I can always go and pace.