Not So Great Dads on the Sidelines

March 11, 2014 · 0 comments

in Dads and Sports

A couple weekends ago I attended a small-town high school basketball game.  Two rival high schools were playing for the league championship in front of a standing-room only crowd.  Even the local TV station was there to televise the match up.

The game lived up to its billing.  The home team jumped out to a ten-point lead, only to have the visiting team claw it’s way back to take a five point lead early in the fourth quarter.  Encouraged by its fans, the home team didn’t give up and managed to get the ball back with twenty seconds remaining and down by two points.  We sat two rows behind the home team bench and heard the coach tell his players during a timeout that they were going to go for a three pointer to win.youth soccer

The visiting team was ready, however.   Good defense broke up the designed play and a mad scramble ensued.  In the end the home team was unable to get a shot off before the buzzer sounded and the visiting team’s bench stormed the court along with some of their fans.

I played on my high school’s basketball team many moons ago, but it’s been a very long time since I’ve been to a game.  I was surprised by the intensity of the players.  They seemed bigger, faster, stronger than I ever remember the players being when I played.

As you might imagine, with the magnitude of what was on the line emotions were high both on and off the court.   At one point in the game a player from the visiting team didn’t like something that one of the home team players did and for about the next two minutes the visiting team player let him know about it.  He got into the home team player’s face.  Yelled at him, Bumped him, etc.  To his credit, the home team player ignored it all and played on and the referees never called anything.  Then the visiting team pulled their player from the game and he never returned.

I think what surprised (and disappointed) me most was the intensity of the parents and students.  Actually, the students were great!  They had some clever cheers but none that I thought were demeaning or that ever crossed the line of good sportsmanship.

But the parents…ugh!  I couldn’t believe what I was hearing and seeing.  The man I was sitting next to gave the referee the finger as he approached the official scorer’s table to announce a foul.  And after the game a woman behind me was calling a visiting team player “a punk” as the two teams were shaking hands.  She couldn’t have been more than ten feet from the player and thankfully the player didn’t appear to hear her.

I suppose this type of behavior has been happening for a long time in sports, but with so many people having phones, cameras, and recording devices on them, you’d think that people would be careful about what they say and do for fear of embarrassing themselves, and their kids.  Just do a YouTube search for bad parent behavior at sporting events.  These types of videos always seem to go viral and end up on the 10 o’clock news.   In hindsight, I wish I had had the guts to say something.  I often wonder if people really realize what they’re saying and doing sometimes.  Maybe even a simple, “Hey now, come on.  That’s not going to help anything.”  Perhaps that would be enough to bring them back to their responsible adult senses.

Now, having said all of that, I know it’s not easy sometimes.  I coached my kids for several years and watched for several more from the stands.  I know that there have been times that I was more vocal than I should have been.  There was one particular game I remember when things weren’t go right on the field for my daughter’s team and I voiced my displeasure.  I asked her about it after the game and even apologized for my behavior.  And her response taught me a lesson that helped me settle down from that point on.  She said, “Huh?  What are you talking about?  I can’t ever hear a thing you say.”  I knew that was true because I remember when I was playing I was oblivious to what was happening in the stands.  All the yelling and screaming by the fans blends to together to make crowd noise, but the players can hardly decipher anything.   This was such an “a-ha” moment for me and I think I’ve been a pretty good parent since then.

As I’ve been reflecting on what happened at this game, I came across a great blog post today by Glennon Doyle Melton called “How to Watch Your Kid’s Game Without Being a Jerk.”  It contains some some great advice and thought I’d pass it along.  Perhaps one or two of these points will stick with you and hopefully keep you out of the headline news.



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