The buttercups are peeking though the frozen ground. They aren’t afraid of the last few frigid nights before spring officially makes its grand entrance this year. The field lights are aglow with the sounds of sports practices- bats cracking, whistles blowing, and new grass stains are being made at spring practices on most every field in town. It is that time of year when the vacant bleachers begin to fill with excited spectators and family members arrive to cheer on the athletes as they ready for a season of competition.
Anyone who has been around sports for at least one season is aware of this fact: not all spectators are created equally. In fact, for every rule in soccer or baseball, one might say there should be a rule for the fans do’s and don’ts. It is easy to get caught up in the pinch of a tie ballgame or a referee’s bad call. Trust me, there have been times when I thought duct tape might keep my commentary more safely at bay. However, if our kids watch us for anything, it is how we handle ourselves in front of others. How we navigate conflict and disappointment is one of the greatest lessons that we can model for our children.
A Few Golden Rules for Parent Sportsmanship
* You never know who you are sitting next to at games. It could possibly be the opposing team’s family members. Even so, evoke the If You Can’t Say Something Nice, Don’t Say It At All MOTTO. Games are a fun social outing. Speak of opponent’s children the same way you would want them to speak of yours.
* Don’t question the umpires, referee’s or coaches calls in front of the children- particularly by yelling. Wait until you can have adult facetime if you wish to voice a concern.
* Remind your child that effort counts as much as a win. This is a FUN time in their lives.
* Avoid post-game analysis unless your child initiates the conversation. Chances are they already know exactly how they can improve next time if they are invested athletes.
* Smile! Before, during and AFTER!
Above all, be there for your children. Support them, praise them, and let them know you can always be counted on for unconditional love, regardless of the final score.