What is the parent’s role in minor sports?

I was really shocked last week while watching the noon sports when they featured a story about two minor football teams (ages 9-10)

Hammertime

I was really shocked last week while watching the noon sports when they featured a story about two minor football teams (ages 9-10) in Seattle who were recently banned from their league playoffs because of the wild antics of their parents during a game. While the young players of both teams stood and watched from the field, their moms and dads and other fans were actually scuffling, shoving, screaming, and even throwing punches at each other up in the stands. One could only imagine how embarrassed and upset these youngsters must have been to see THEIR parents acting like idiots over what is supposed to be just a game, and how quiet it will be around a few supper tables for a few days.

They eventually had to call in the local police to stop the heated brawl, which will hopefully result in charges to the culprits, but so unfortunately in the end it will be the young players who will be devastated because the league officials ruled that they will not be allowed to compete in the always exciting playoffs. On the same sports clip, they also showed an irate mother chasing a referee around the ice during a minor hockey game. So this brings up the question of what is the role of parents, grandparents and fans when it comes to minor sports?

All minor teams and participants from tots to teens, no matter what game they are playing, are always thrilled to have fans cheering for their efforts and should it really matter what the end result of the game or competition might be? Having been on both sides of the fence for many years as a player, a parent and a coach, I have a great deal of admiration and respect for the thousands of parents, families, and fans who avidly and faithfully come out to support and cheer for their kids and teams. Whether it be at the rink, the ball diamond, the sports field, the school gymnasium, the pool or wherever the game might be played, the participants are hopefully there to compete, but to also have fun, with the presence of the parents and fans  a great inspiration for their best efforts. The most important role for those of us who are on the sidelines or in the stands should be to cheer and celebrate their successes, but we must also stress to our young charges that it is okay if they lose once in a while, as long as they have done their best, and have been taught to be good team mates and good sports, no matter what. I am so pleased to see that in all minor sports games and events that the grand old tradition of shaking hands with the opposition when the final whistle blows is still going strong.

For five days a week and most weekends of the season, parents and grandparents are also dedicated drivers at all hours of the day or night to games at home or on the road, and have become experts at patching up torn uniforms, tying skates, taping sticks and performing an ‘instant heal’ for cuts and bruises and aches and pains. There are also those countless parents and individuals in and around the community who willingly give of their time to volunteer as coaches, to keep score, to help raise funds to keep the programs going, and also quite often become keen sponsors. Without all these great people and sponsors behind our community teams and minor sports all year round, most of these activities would not be possible.

Of course in many cases all fans do get a little excited during the game and occasionally ‘blow their cool’, but if the fuse burns a little too bright, this is the time to jump up and down and cheer a little louder, to head to the front lobby for a hot cup of coffee, or to go outside for a smoke. Then as we cool down we need to remember that our children and their teammates idolize everything that we do as parents, or grandparents on a 24-7 basis, with a lot of love and just a little bit of discipline thrown in along the way to growing up.

Then there are those referees, umpires and officials who spend the entire game on the field or on the ice to keep our games or event running smoothly, safely and within the rules. In the heat of every game, mistakes are made by both players and officials, but that is no reason for anyone to go ballistic and blame the results on everybody else. No matter what the scoreboard might say at the end of your sport, there will always be another day and another game to enjoy the opportunity of just being there as a part of the action and the thrills that are complimented by a complete team effort from the players, the parents, the fans and the community. Whatever the case, and whatever role you may play, you should all be congratulated for your ongoing efforts and your dedication to the game and to your rambunctious home town teams of excited young boys and girls, who will one day be our proud future. Bundle them up for Halloween, trick or treat safely, and have a great week, all of you.