Monday, September 13, 2010

Sideline Rules

My son took to the field in his first soccer game this weekend and he had a great time. He smiled, enthusiastically participated  and even scored two goals, one with his hands, if that even counts. At one point, in his true 5 year old fashion, he sat on the field and picked the grass, keep kicking the balls out of bounds, got stuck in the net and refused to play, but still, he had a good time. 

He took to the field aggressively, running after the ball and humorously, or so he thought, knocking down the other players. At some points during the game, my son played soccer like, tackle football. Most of the parents thought it was humorous, after all, he's five, still learning and he wasn't the only player knocking down other kids. But a couple of parents became the "peanut gallery", yelling at him, telling him, "this isn't football it's soccer!" Of course, he had no clue what they were yelling, but my husband and I did and it took every bone in my body not to yell something back.

My experience with sports is being the athlete, in the pool, taking control of my destiny and enjoying every minute. My son is only 5 1/2 and my experience being on the "other" side of the field, is short but extensive. I have learned what it's like to be in the midst of one of "those" parents and how it can ruin the game and the experience for everyone, the child included. I can only imagine that as he gets older, "those" parents get more verbal, more aggressive and more intrusive.

So, here are my top five rules for being the parent of a child who participates in sports.

1. If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say it. 

2. No Heckling. Don't become a part of the peanut gallery.  No one wants to hear your snide remarks.Yelling rude comments is far from constructive and doesn't make anyone feel better except yourself.

3. Let your kid play the game. Let your kid thrive or make mistakes. Don't be that parent who yells tips to their kid from the sidelines. If you want to help you child, do it at home and constructively. Once your child is in the game, match or race, let them take control.

4. Let the coach and  the referee control the game, make the calls and call the plays. If you don't agree with the coaches call or play, too bad, no need to be a sideline coach that's worse than a back seat driver.

5. When your child takes to the field, pool, or court, erase images of Michael Phelps, Ryan Howard, David Beckham, and Serena Williams.  What is swimming today, may be soccer tomorrow and in a week maybe be ballet. Let your kids, be kids.

6. No matter if you kid is the one scoring the goals, breaking the records or playing in the dirt and telling jokes, support them and encourage them. Let them have fun.

7. Let your children develop their own dreams and their own goals. Don't live out your dreams through your children. You may have wanted to be an Olympic athlete but your child may want to be captain of the debate team, a member of the science club or a train enthusiast. They may like to swim, but they don't want to be a swimmer. Their dreams are their dreams, not yours.

My child is 5. I don't care if he drops the ball, runs the wrong way on the field, tackles other players or  lays in the grass because he doesn't feel like playing. The smile on his face is enough to make every goal, every mistake and temper tantrum on the field worthwhile.

I'd just like my kid to be a kid, without an appearance from the peanut gallery on the sidelines.

1 comment:

  1. I was at my nephew's little league game a few years ago and this father was basically belittling his son in front of everyone. It made me so mad.

    I have another nephew that played soccer. During his first game he picked flowers from the field (during the game) and took them over to his mom. It was cute!

    Oh, love his T-shirt by the way. Hook 'em Horns!



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