I don’t care about sports. I really don’t. I don’t care where “we” are in the standings or which team “we” play next week or even whether or not “we” are winning this game my kid is playing in right now. No, that’s really not my thing—I was in show choir.
It’s not that I don’t give a shit about how my kids do on the field. To the contrary, I might be described as tigerish or helicopterish or the latest in-the-kids-business type of -ish. I just happen to give a shit about things the other team parents don’t seem to give one shit about.
I don’t care whether my kids are good athletes or not. I’m not counting on sports to bring them scholarships, fame or fortune. I care that my children are good people, and I’m counting on them to make their own way in the world while considering the feelings of others. To that end, when it comes to sports, we have our own rules to play by.
1. Show up. You signed us up, kid—all of us. We’re investing a substantial amount of time and money into this sports thing, so I don’t want to hear a single complaint about attending the games or practices you elected to attend. Your teammates and coaches are counting on you, so get over whatever’s getting you and get in the car. We will not be late.
2. Play every play. If your team’s up by 10, I don’t want to see you goofing around out there. If your team’s down by 10, I don’t want to see you doing the shrugging, flappy arms. The game is not over until somebody with a whistle calls it, so don’t disrespect the athletes on either team by checking out before then.
3. Be a good sport. If you come back to the bench or dugout or sideline or whatever it is after a bad play and throw something or cuss, just keep walking straight to the car because you are done. You can feel however you want, but you will exercise some self-control and act like a good sport. If you don’t, I will be calling you out so loudly and marching up on you so fast you might actually melt into the ground wicked-witch style.
4. No blaming. Yes, that game was a tough one. It really was. But if you get in the car afterward and rant about the officials, coaches or competitors, I am going to suggest that if these people are so terrible, perhaps we ought not be spending so much time with them. Or, if depending on others is that frustrating for you, maybe you should forget about team sports and become an ultra-marathoner. If that doesn’t sound good, zip it and worry about yourself.
5. Be kind. I might have missed your big play (a girl’s gotta tweet after all), but I saw you cheer on that kid who never makes a shot. I saw you compliment someone on the other team. I saw you helping your coach with the gear. I saw you being encouraging and kind. That is what makes me proud. That is what we’re going to talk about on the ride home—the highlight reel.
6. Thank the coach. Even if he barely let you off the bench, even if he called the wrong play, even if you got creamed, at the end of every game you will look your coach directly in the eye and thank him. I will too. Let’s make sure he hears us. We might secretly think he needs a Xanax, but he puts up with no small amount of crap and deserves our recognition and appreciation.
7. Clean up after yourself and your teammates. I don’t care whose Powerade that was. Pick it up.
8. Thank your parents. We’re taking one for the team here. I just sat in the broiling sun/soaking rain/gale-force winds for three and a half hours. I’m tired and hungry, and I have to pee for real. I couldn’t talk to the other moms because I don’t want to offend them by blurting out, “Are you freaking kidding me?! How can you possibly think any of this matters?!” I may hate sports, but I love you. Give me the chance to let you know with a sincere “You’re welcome.”