The Ruination of Youth Sports

Over the course of raising three rambunctious sons they have given time at one point or another, to a wide variety of youth sports. I also have nieces and nephews who have forayed into the world of youth athletics and I have Aunted from the sidelines, so I have seen, over the course of my forty-hundred years, a fairly wide array of youth sporting events.

Which is why I can tell you that there is a bug out there. A demon of sorts. Prowling about the bleachers and sidelines trying mightily to ruin the "fun" in functions related to youth recreation.

Fellow Moms and Dads, you should fear this wrecker-ruiner because it slips and slithers in closely to where you likely park your chair. It will crawl onto the blanket you've spread on the grass. It will ask if it can eat your popcorn - it's sitting that close.

In fact some of you may have already been bitten by it.

It is the Psychotic Parents.

The screaming-like-a-maniac Mom. The temper-tantrum throwing Dad. The knower-of-all-the-rules. The bleacher-chair, Eagle-eyed spotter who can see far better than any on-the-field referee. The arguer. And my least favorite of all the "Cripes-all-Friday-Jeffery-did-you-even-try-that-time?!?!" yeller. (For the record, I think Jeffery did try that time. Since most kids don't go out onto the field with the thought of, eh, I'm not feeling it. I think I'll just randomly swing and see what happens. Maybe I'll even close my eyes.... why not?

Have you seen these people at your youth sporting events? Do they sit close to you? (If so, slide over. This could be contagious.) Are YOU this parent??

Eeeesh. If so, it's okay. This, like any bug, is something you can get over. Fight off. With a little patience and some rest (of your mouth, during sporting events,) you can zap this bug like Strep Throat on a Z-Pac.

But first, we have to have a discussion about how.

At a recent youth sporting event my youngest son took part in, they had the participating athletes and coaches from both teams line up on the field to recite a Sportsman's Creed before they were allowed to begin the game.

I think this is excellent.

I would like to motion all youth sporting events begin with a Sportsman's Creed.

Then follow up immediately with a Spectator's Creed.

All people (parents, grandparents, feisty neighbor ladies) in the audience will stand and repeat after the referee a pledge to conduct themselves in an adult-like behavior and obey the calls of the officials, even those they may not agree with.

I think this would be a great way to start to overcome the bleacher-demon.

If this seems to be not enough. Not enough reminder to remain calm. Breathe through your nose normally. Clap at APPROPRIATE times (no, when the "other girl" fouls out is not appropriate!) And to keep in mind the referee whom you are repeatedly deeming "an idiot" is probably either A) a volunteer, B) a high-school kid or C) both. Then I'd like to offer you one last thought.

Remember this and think of it often. Hopefully right before you open your mouth to yell at your daughter's soccer match.

These kids, the ones playing on the field, they're out there to have a little fun with their buddies. They're not making money. They're not someone you bought tickets to see. They're not even people who are experienced or know all the rules of the game.

They're kids. Your offspring and their classmates. Your neighbor kid and two other kids from down the street. Kids you may see at church on Sunday. Kids you may recognize from the school play.

Kids who are maybe a little too hungry. Kids who are thinking about the things they heard mom and dad yelling about this morning. Kids who are trying their damndest to please their dads or grandpas.

Hey, at the end of the day (and of the post,) I'm a realist. I know not every moment, especially parenting moments, are peachy keen. I know there are days when you feel like you are pumping money down the drain for your kid to turn cartwheels while everyone else is learning steps and moves.

But. They're. Your. Kids.

If you haven't figured it out yet by the time your kids get to the age where they are allowed to enroll in youth sports - spoiler alert: you have kids to handle tasks like "find me the remote control" and "get this bug that's crawling on the floor." You did not bring these children into the world to be your entertainment.

Are they funny sometimes? Sure, if you're lucky.

Are they entertaining sometimes? Probably. If you paid attention during the toddler stage you likely found it hilarious at times.

Are they supposed to perform like paid professional athletes? Um, no. No matter who they are, the answer is no. No matter who they're related to or what their last name is or how good their dad was "back in the day" - the answer is still no.

They're kids. Kids who probably do some pretty great things at times.

Kids who likely do some head-scratching, what-the-hell-were-you-thinking things at times. On the court. In the classroom. In your kitchen. At their friend's house. On the field. In the backyard. In the bathroom.

It doesn't matter where they are. This is the nature of children. Globally.

If you've ever heard the song Downtown by Macklemore there's a line in the song, after he gets his Moped Scooter and he's cruising around he yells back at the person who yells at him and it goes as such:

"I'm going 38 man, chill yourself out.

Mow your damn lawn and sit the hell down!"

I'd like to offer a parody of that line to all the parents who feel the need to holler at every game like it's the World Series. To make every function the end-all, be-all of importance. To chew out referees and coaches in the name of their child being wronged. To those who are bringing about the ruination of youth sports - remember this;

"He's trying his best man, chill yourself out.

Eat your popcorn and sit the hell down!"

Besides, it's probably really good - the popcorn, that is. It usually is. That's one of the great things about youth sports, those concession stand people make a mean bag of popcorn.

Give it a try. And every time you feel like hollering or yelling or asking the ref if he needs glasses - put a few kernels in your mouth.

In time, you'll learn to love it.

Both the popcorn and the experience of a game that you watched with normal blood pressure.