Anyone who knows me can tell you that I am not a sports fan, not by a long shot. I am not even a bandwagon fan.
I don’t like to watch sports, and I don’t want to listen to them (those announcers really bug me). There is nothing about sports that remotely interests me, although I do have to admit that I get a kick out of the folks who call in to sports radio – they are a hoot.
And I’ll admit to trying to learn more about sports early in our marriage, but Pat could sense my heart wasn’t in it and let me off the hook.
So, I surprised myself when I realized that one of the activities I will miss most when my son graduates from high school in June is attending his games.
For the past 15 years, a good deal of my life was organized around youth and then high school sports. I have worked as a volunteer, begged people for money, been a coach’s wife, and sat my butt on countless bleachers, beach chairs and blankets. My children have played soccer, football, baseball, softball, lacrosse (boys and girls). My son has played on elite teams, club teams, town teams and high school teams.
That’s a lot of games.
It has been one of the most fun and rewarding aspects of being a parent. It has also given me a front row seat to interact with other parents. And let me tell you I have seen just about every kind of parent, coach and official there is to be seen.
Are there dopes involved? Yup, you betcha.
The coach who is only there for their own kid or their own ego – check.
The officials who think people come to see them – check.
Parents who only cheer for their own or, worse, against another – check.
Once I saw a parent follow a high-school-age umpire to his car, yelling at how he missed this call and that call. It was a Little League game. Little League! Switch to decaf or Quaaludes, dude. Seriously, check yourself. I’m sure the only way your little Jimmy will make it to “The Show” is as a season ticket holder.
Parents like this are at fields and arenas all over the country, and they suck up all the attention and cast a pall. But they do not tell the whole story, the real story.
They certainly do not tell my story or define my experience.
My experience has been mostly positive, and I am in awe of how much some parents give to the effort of youth and high school sports.
I’ve been lucky to meet some incredible and generous people. They show up at games and cheer on all the players. They share blankets and chairs. They host team dinners. They organize dinners for away games. They bring homemade ice cream sandwiches to games and hand them out – even if the kids lose.
Those parents are not me – well, except the sharing part. I am pretty good at sharing.
In order to be more inclusive, let me expand this to the non-sports parents out there as well: band parents and drama parents and any other parent that invests not just their money but their time into watching, encouraging and cheering their children on.
Stand up folks (grandparents and aunts and uncles, too) and take a bow. You are – every one of you – rock stars!
I want to thank you for cheering for my child when my schedule didn’t allow me to be at a game.
I want to thank you for opening your homes to feed all those very hungry non-salad eating boys for team dinners.
I want to thank you for checking in after injuries.
Most of all, I want to thank you for making me love a sport.
I have to go now. I think I have something in my eye…
Originally published in the Old Colony Memorial, May 21, 2014 and on wickedlocal.com/plymouth, May 22, 2014