6 things to keep in mind as a sports parent


Charlie Brooks

posted in Parenting

Whether I like it or not, I’ve become a sports parent. Weekends are no longer a chance to sleep in. instead, they’re a time to get up early so we can trek to hockey, baseball, soccer, or dance. This is great for my kids. I suppose my wallet and sanity can take one more hit.

I like taking an active role in my kids’ activities, but I don’t want to get too rabid as a sports parent. As the kids grow and competition gets fiercer, I hope to encourage them without becoming domineering. To that end, here are a few things I hope I keep in mind going forward.

It does matter if you win… The saying, “It’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game” is 99 percent true. However, I disagree with the notion that winning doesn’t matter. Sports are about competition. If you’re going to play, you should play to win.

…but not as much as other things. That said, there’s a right way and a wrong way to win. Competition matters, and sportsmanship matters even more. I’ll butt my nose out of most things, but I won’t abide my kids being poor sports, whether they win or lose.

I need to be a cheerleader, not a coach. (Unless, of course, I’m coaching the sport.) I get an urge to give well-meaning advice and pointers, especially if I know a great deal about the sport. But I don’t need to go around giving unsolicited advice. I’ll focus on cheering, and the coaches can coach.

Sports Running

I need to keep my annoyances to myself. Referees, judges, and opposing teams will irritate the heck out of me from time to time. I need to work on keeping my criticisms to myself — or at least out of my kids’ earshot. Complaining about a judge’s call doesn’t improve anything or send the right message.

I also need to shut up about the cost. Much to my irritation, sports take up a lot of time and even more money. The cost can grate on my nerves, but I’ve determined it’s worth it for the benefits my kids receive. Thus, complaining about the time and money spent is just empty griping.

I won’t let early morning sports ruin my waistline. Getting going super early means less time for breakfast. Despite the constant lure of Dunkin’ Donuts nearby, I need to keep the drive-thru to an occasional treat rather than making it part of the routine. A doughnut is not breakfast, even when I’m in a hurry.

Ultimately, I just don’t want to be the type of sports parent who lets a competitive nature get in the way of the kids having fun. This is one of those things that sounds easy in theory, but might get harder as I get more emotionally invested in games. As my time as a sports parent progresses, I’ll see if I can keep these six points in mind.

What sort of sports-related behaviors do you want to avoid?

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Images: Karen Arnold, US Navy

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