When The Dad and I watch The Daughters play sports – in particular basketball - I like it when he sits next to me and puts his arm around my shoulder. It’s not that I like that particular public display of affection. It’s not that I’m hit on by the single dads and his arm shows them that I’m his woman. It’s so much more than that.
It provides me with prime position to elbow him in the ribs when his side-line coaching and commentary get carried away. And the flip side of that is that when I get too loud or too obnoxious, he can squeeze my shoulder. Yeah, that’s right. I’m loud too.
Because The Dad is a former coach (prior to becoming The Dad), we know all too well how side-line coaching can get carried away and, regardless of what it appears to be, we really try to keep our comments positive and our coaching constructive. When The Dad has a question or a concern about the officiating of a game, he will go – privately – talk to the officials to get clarification. To my knowledge, those visits have always been positive. Being a youth sports official has got to be one of the world’s worst jobs. Ever.
I tell you all this so you’ll understand that we don’t TRY to be loud and belligerent. I tell you all this so you’ll understand that we TRY to be positive and constructive. I tell you all this so you’ll not judge us too harshly when I tell you what happened this past weekend.
As we sat together, his hand on my shoulder and my elbow in his ribs, and watched one of the best youth basketball games we’d seen in quite a while (and I’m not just saying that because Daughter 1 was playing), I was taken aback by a voice I heard screaming behind me.
“OHMYGOSH!” the voice screamed, commanding the attention of everyone in the gym, “Number 42 totally FOULED!” Obviously, the owner of this voice felt so passionately that a call had been missed that she felt the need to tell the entire arena. I glanced over my left shoulder, not wanting to actually stare at the voice and certainly not wanting to upset the voice any further and found myself looking right into the eyes of Daughter 2 who said, “What? She did foul!”
Daughter 2 had just become an obnoxious sports parent and she wasn’t even nine-years-old yet! Wow! This actually stung worse than dirty looks from other parents.
After the game, we had a long, constructive and positive talk with The Daughters about sportsmanship. We talked about how some parents just get so excited to see their child play and want so desperately to see their child be successful that sometimes – often times – we got carried away and forgot why we were sitting in those particular seats at that particular game: to watch our children have fun.
As spring approaches and the crack of the bats against softballs and baseballs rings through our communities, I hope that we, as grown-ups, can remember to play fair. Because the little athletes aren’t the only ones being watched.