Why do I go to my child’s games?
May I ask you: Have you asked yourself lately what your intention is when you sit in the stands at your child’s events?
A while back, I was seated behind a parent of an opposing team member at one of my son’s basketball games. What I saw caused me to reevaluate my genuine answer to the above question. She was a lively spectator. She clapped, she cheered, she shook her head at some bad plays, and every few minutes, she wrote something down on the roster she was holding. The clapping, cheering, and even the shaking of the head seemed pretty typical of any average fan in the stands. I have done all three, and I think I can safely assume you have too. However, my curiosity about activity number four – using her pen to mark that paper – got the best of me. The white piece of paper that was repeatedly picked up and slammed down in disgust was close enough to me to sneak a peek if I wanted to. I confess I wanted to. So I did. In large black letters there was a heading that said, “Bad passes.”
This woman was keeping track of bad passes like it was her job.
From my observations, I am guessing (and it IS a guess) she was recording the bad decisions of her son’s teammates.
I could be wrong, and maybe she was counting the “bad passes” of her own son and was going to talk it over with him after the game. If that’s the case, that is a topic for a different blog post with a possible title of, “Please do not count how many mistakes your child makes in their games in order to point them out later.” Too long of a title? Okay, it could be shortened to something like, “Lousy Parenting Practices”
So let’s suppose she was adding up the mistakes of her son’s teammates to prove some sort of point.
My next question is this: Do I ever do that? And if someone asked you if you do…I wouldn’t expect anyone to raise their hand and confess that they carry a piece of paper and writing utensil to every game for the sole purpose of counting the transgressions of their child’s team members. (If you do, kindly tell us where you are sitting at the next game, so that we can sit nowhere near you and your negativity.) But how many times have I done it mentally? “So-and-so has turned the ball over three times in a row, and my son has a pretty impressive assist-to-turnover ratio…” Or “Practically every time that girl serves, it goes straight into the net, do the coaches not see that?” Reminder: we are complaining about someone who is wearing the same team uniform as our child. They are on the SAME TEAM.
Hoping and cheering for the success of my child’s teammates makes the most sense…every positive play they make is contributing to the success of the entire team.
If we tell our role-player child they should start instead of one of their teammates, our child may actually be hearing, “I’m not good enough in my parents’ eyes unless I start.” Have we forgotten how crucial role players are to a team’s success? What about our child who spends their time on the bench? If we continually complain about their teammates who “shouldn’t be playing in front of them,” 1. We might cause them to lose their enthusiasm for working their way into the playing rotation, because, “What’s the use? My parents are only going to care if I’m a starter…” and 2. We lose an opportunity to teach an important life lesson to our children: EVERY team member is valuable. If instead of being a star player, our child is a role player or a player that spends most of their time on the bench, it doesn’t diminish their worth to the team, right? A team is successful because of a combination of factors including their attitude, their unity, and their preparation in practice. The second and third-string players make the first-string players better through their efforts at every single practice! The players who are on the bench cheering on their teammates on the playing field are imperative to the team’s energy and perseverance. If we instill in our children the truth that EVERY player contributes, it will serve them well for the rest of their life!
If I habitually see the shortcomings of my kid’s teammates, it will make it easier for my kid to see them too. If I point out weaknesses, the people around me are exposed to negativity whether they want to be or not. If I am not a unifying presence in the bleachers, I am a divisive presence. No team needs that!
Will you join me in making a parent pact? It is a pact to support every team member; to be a loyal fan of every single member of team.
Maybe our positivity will rub off on others. It all starts with asking ourselves a question and answering in a genuine way: Why do I go to my child’s games?