Do your kids play sports? Mine did. They played some kind of sport almost every season for 12 straight years. I have a lot of experience with the rigmarole of scheduling, getting to games, and bonding with the other parents of kids on their teams. I spent a huge chunk of my life just sitting in the stands watching my kids play. And it was fun. Sort of.
If there’s one thing that never changed throughout my years of watching, it’s the types of sports parents I met along the way. Here, I’ve listed the 15 parents you will meet if your kid plays sports. I was a little bit of all of them combined. Which one are you?
1. The Referee
This is the sports parent that calls every pitch a strike when her kid is on the mound. Every minor touch is a foul when her kid is on the court. She waves her arms and she bellows. She screams technical terms like “travel!” or “face mask!” or “goaltending!” or “he was safe by a mile!” Boy, does she ever watch the game. You can’t get anything past this one.
2. The Expert
He knows everything there is to know about the sport. He schools other parents on the rules and waxes poetically about the old days when he used to play and how some of the rules have changed since then. He’s great for trivia night down at the bar, but it’s hard to listen to his non-stop lecture on regulation and history every damn week.
3. The Wannabe Coach
This sports parent laments every decision the coach makes throughout the entire game. He shakes his head and sighs when Bobby gets into the game to replace Jimmy, who apparently just needs a quick rest. He throws his hands up and paces on the sidelines, mimicking the actual coach. Of course, he’s not the coach because he just doesn’t have the time to actually be the coach, but he knows for sure that he would be a much better one.
4. The Complainer
She is the annoying mom who complains about when and where practices are, or chimes in about the color of the uniforms after they’ve been ordered. She didn’t bother to attend any of the pre-season meetings when everything about the team was discussed. She whines about the cost of everything but is unwilling to help with fundraising. The field is never up to her standards. She’s always an absolute joy to be around.
5. The Over-Extender
This mom hates herself. She’ll bring your kid to and from the game, she’ll pack his snack, and she’ll even stop at the store and pick up a pair of shin guards if your kid forgets his. She’s like superwoman — all things to all people. She organizes the team party and helps with the scheduling spreadsheets. She’s Operation Clean-Up. She swoops in and does everything so no one else has to do anything.
6. The Poser
Joey’s game is a place for this dad to hang out on a Saturday morning. He’s present, but he isn’t really there. Joey looks over at him as he walks to the plate for his at-bat, but his dad, The Poser, is very busy staring down at his phone. When this dad does look up, just in time, he quickly turns his phone around for a snap of himself with Joey in the background slumping back to the dugout. He quickly filters the shit out of it before posting it on Instagram. #lovebeingadad
7. The Gossiper
She only comes to the games to talk about other people. She gives everyone within earshot the scoop on all the kids and what’s been going on at their school and with their teachers. She knows who is getting divorced, and who is failing science. She whispers a lot and prefaces everything with, “Did you hear about…?”
8. The Pawner-Offer
This sports parent always has to go do something before the game starts, so could you please watch his kid for like 20 minutes? He’ll be right back. When he finally comes back an hour later, it’s with a relaxed smile and a medium Duncan Donuts coffee. Oh, and it’s almost halftime.
9. The Control Freak
This is the parent who seems to have to round up all the kids to get them organized for the coach. For example, after the game during clean up, he can be heard shouting directives such as “Laney, collect the cones!” or “Miranda, get all the balls into that bag!” He’s the drill sergeant for team sports, and we hate to admit it, but we kind of like him.
10. The Always Late
Poor Bobby. His playing time is totally affected by his parents’ lack of organization on game day. He’s missing a shin guard, and one of his laces just broke. His parents are always late, and they always have a great excuse, and that’s just the way it goes. Always.
11. The Litigator
This dad argues for playtime non-stop. He keeps tabs on minutes and believes that his kid is not getting what he deserves. He lobbies relentlessly via emails and phone calls to the coach because it’s just never, ever perfectly fair.
12. The Partiers
These sports parents treat every T-ball game like a tailgate party. They bring the red cups, the wings, and the lawn chairs. They blast Aaron Lewis from their trucks while the kids are warming up. They watch most of the game from the parking lot between rounds of corn hole.
13. The Dreamer
This mom is convinced her child is destined for the pros. He made one great catch two years ago and ever since then she’s had stars in her eyes. Sixty-four lessons and two travel teams later, she still keeps her eyes open for scouts at every game. If only her kid wanted it as badly as she does.
14. The Odd Couple
These two deserve a mention. Every team my kids ever played on, there was always one weird set of parents. They were the couple that made us all scratch our heads, wondering how they ever got together. For example, one year there was the doctor with the European accent who married, by her own admission, a hillbilly. We don’t know how their love blossomed, but it somehow did and their story needs to be made into a movie.
15. The Enigmas
These are the sports parents that we will never get over. Their kid is awesome, and yet neither one of them possess any discernible athletic talent. Jimmy is popular with his teammates, yet his parents are socially challenged. Neither seems interested in sports at all, let alone Jimmy’s flawless 3-point ticket to college. When his parents do come to a game, which isn’t often, they become the captive audience of The Expert parent because they seemingly know nothing about Jimmy’s favorite sport. Jimmy’s mom is there to support her son. However, she brings a book just in case she is bored.
And make no mistake, there’s a Jimmy on every team.