Monday night, we went to a 7th grade girls basketball game. It was held in a gym where Jordan and Jacob played in high school. I wonder what it is about the squeaky floors, uncomfortable wooden bleachers and sweaty, basketbally smell of a familiar gym that can send you spinning into nostalgic overload? Those years of watching basketball in that gym were fun. And cute little Micah with his chili-bowl haircut would shoot baskets during halftime at his brothers’ games.
Watching the boys (especially Jordan – yes I did just say that – sorry, Jake and Micah) play basketball ranks right at the very top of my list of favorite things to do. (I enjoy watching their football games too, but spent most of my time cringing behind my hands.)
But I digress.
Back to Monday night. We sat near a man we did not know, and he was quite vocal during the game. He did not hesitate to voice his loud irritation with his daughter when she did not perform as well as he thought she should. Over the years, we’ve heard a lot of parents complain and yell and gripe. They got mad at their kids. They were furious with the coaches. They yelled at the refs. (Sometimes I had to tell John to pipe down. Sometimes he had to tell ME to pipe down. Sometimes I had to pinch him.) I remember one man who was thrown out of basketball games with regularity because he was so obnoxious. I’ll never forget the near-brawl that took place at one of Jordan’s 5th grade little league football games.
Get a grip.
It’s a game.
They’re just kids.
I think we need to remember why we want our kids involved with youth sports. Is it because we want them to win at all costs? Is it because we want our son or daughter to be athletically superior to the next kid? Even if we have hopes for a college scholarship, does that justify rude behavior, angry outbursts and the stress we put on our kids?
Here are the good things about youth sports: our kids learn teamwork and responsibility. They learn that hard work and practice pays off. They learn that life isn’t always fair. They learn that not everyone is easy to work with. They (hopefully) learn how to lose gracefully. They learn self-discipline. And if we do our parenting job right, they learn to put God before all other activities, even when it’s tough.
Come on, people. Remember what’s important.