by Jill Smokler
People are crazy. And there's no place to better illustrate that fact than on the sidelines at any kids' sporting event.
Picture insane screaming parents making fools out of themselves and living vicariously through little Timmy’s ability to kick a ball into a goal. It's nuts! But the yelling and aggressiveness is only one of the bad behaviors I keep running into at children’s sporting events.
So I’ve made a pact with myself: There are some things I will never do on the sidelines or from the bleachers while my offspring are participating in a sporting event. Here they are ...
1. I won’t shout at someone else’s kid. Unless I’m yelling, “Great job!” or “Good try!” (I reserve the right to yell at my own kids, though. Especially things like “Quit filling your pockets with leaves, this is a soccer game!”)
2. I won’t demean my own kid when they fail. Because they feel bad enough for messing up already. And also because it’s a game. Save the parental disappointment for something that matters, like when they drop your iPhone in the toilet.
3. I won’t be the obnoxious stat-tracker. I won’t report on how many goals my daughter has scored this season, or how many shots my son has made, or dear God I won’t shove a spreadsheet in the coach’s face to make a point about my kid’s playing time.
4. I won’t pace like a coach. Up and down the sideline ... following the action, berating the ref, shadowing the players. You know why I won’t do it? Because bleachers exist for a reason, and because I don’t want to block the seated parents’ view, and because I don’t want them looking at my ass the whole game.
5. I won’t litter. I don’t want to sit in some mystery leftover sticky wrappers-and-bottles mush, and you don’t either. I will be a good example for the precious children by putting my king-size Butterfinger wrapper in the trash can.
6. I won’t bring my dog. Yes, your Doberman is beautiful. Yes, you keep saying “she loves children.” Yes, I also am not blind to the fact that your dog is scaring the hell out of half the kids here. Why don’t you see it, too? Oh, and what’s that smell?
7. I won’t be vulgar or inappropriate. Even if my kid hears those words at home all the time, I recognize that other children might not. I’m sure you won’t appreciate me when your 3-year-old comes home from big sister’s game with a colorful vocabulary.
8. I won’t use the time as social hour. “Did you see me score, Mommy?” If my answer to that question is ever “no,” then obviously 1) I will lie about it, and 2) I will feel like a turd. Sure, I’ll talk to you, but I’ll keep my eyes on the game, thanks.
9. I won’t pollute your air. Not that I smoke, but if I did, I’d do it far away from everyone else. AND DOWNWIND. If you are coughing and choking from my cigarette smoke and miss your kid’s moment due to the secondhand haze, then I give you the right to approach me in the parking lot and will allow you a pass on #7.
10. I won’t be a jackass! If I don’t feel like encouraging both teams—or if I can’t control my behavior at a game for little children—then I won’t come. Or I’ll sit far enough away that my kid still knows I’m there but won’t get embarrassed by Mommy. I embarrass them in plenty of other ways already.
Five years from now, no one will remember the score at the end of today’s game—including your child. But I promise your kid will remember if you get carded by the ref, or escorted out of the gym by security, or tarred-and-feathered by a posse of parents who have had enough of your idiocy. So how about we all cool it. OK?
What do you see other parents do that you WON'T do?