hard pass

Indoor Sports Season Is Hell

The noise. God, the NOISE.

Ariela Basson/Scary Mommy; Getty Images, Shutterstock

It’s indoor season for youth sports moms, and I need to tell you something: We are not ok.

Each basketball game, I’m immediately assaulted with the harsh aromas of sweat and body odor as I prop open the gym doors and finagled my way through the crowd full of basketball players and their families. As I make my way into the stands and settle into my seat, I brace for the unavoidable nervous system assault specifically provided by youth indoor sports. Where venues are packed, and voices of overly passionate parents echo loudly while I try to survive.

Now, to be fair, I have a strong (and often unpopular) opinion that all youth sporting events are pretty insufferable. I can’t stand the overzealous parents reprimanding their children for athletic mistakes and outwardly celebrating the failures of children on opposing teams.

The whole thing just feels pretty icky to me.

Add an adult coach who takes winning and performance too seriously and spends his afternoon screaming at a bunch of kids who likely still believe in Santa Claus, and I am typically cursing all of humanity under my breath by the end of the first half. And in the cold winter months, where we all crowd into an indoor sports venue, it all feels amplified.

Because when sports are outdoors, you can spread out over those big, open fields. While the die-hards cluster around the fifty-yard line and congregate for the whole sideline experience — often bantering with one another throughout the game – I have the luxury of complete separation, simply because outdoor space is vast.

I prefer everybody just take it down several notches, but the open air at least helps. There is no echo, and Mother Nature sometimes throws me a solid with a bit of wind or an airplane overhead, drowning out some of the chaos.

But indoors, I have no such luck. Space is limited, and everyone ends up crowded in the stands, unable to escape most of the sideline mayhem and often propelling unsuspecting bystanders right in the middle of it. And God, the noise. I can’t get away from those loud voices, and now they’re echoing, too.

I swear it becomes a bit of a performance indoors. Coaches know they are on display in closer proximity to the crowd, easily seen and heard. Sometimes, the theatrics feel put on, with over-the-top expressions and wildly loud and aggressive instructions. Or maybe I am just ultra-sensitive to the whole scene, having been a student-athlete myself, someone who was always negatively impacted by the overly aggressive behaviors of coaches.

And I think the parents perform indoors too. They can be seen pointing to tell their kid to go here or there. Or my favorite: all hands up because they are so frustrated that their kid didn’t listen to them. I will never really understand why anyone is taking it so seriously at this age.

And I know I have a minority opinion here. I know because I live it, and I look around. And for every parent who locks eyes with me for the unspoken gaze saying, “This is crazy,” there are 10 others too focused on the last controversial call to have any self-awareness about the whole scene. So I’ll just keep it to myself, then vent about it when I get home. Maybe it’s not the best solution, but it’s the only one I’ve currently have. At least winter is kind of short, and thank God my kids don’t play hockey.

Samm is an ex-lawyer and mom of four who swears a lot. Find her on Instagram @sammbdavidson.