Do you ever feel like you have a secret that’s really not a secret to anyone except yourself? And, more importantly, can you follow the absurd ramblings of an Indiana mom questioning said self realization in the middle of a cool summer’s night? It’s best that I just get this well-known secret off my chest before it either gets reburied deep in my subconscious, or manifests itself as a 36 hour Celebrity Rehab watch-a-thon. So here it goes. I AM AN OBNOXIOUS SPORTS PARENT.
Hear someone shout questionable things at a ref during a preschool game on Lil Tike’s goals? It’s probably me. But in my defense, if the NBA doesn’t allow double teaming, I don’t think you should be able to corner trap a four year old who dribbles his own slobber better than the ball. Notice a mom manipulating her body like a charades’ player with the song title “Maneater” to illustrate a soccer pass. Yeah, that’s me too. In fact, I’m known in our local sporting community as “that mom”. Which is funny, because I’ve never played an organized team sport in my life. Could I be trying to avenge my own lack of athleticism by focusing too hard on my miniature Beckhams? Or am I trying to validate my decision to be a stay-at-home mom through the success of my Duke Class of 2022 star freshman recruit? I tend to go out on a limb and blame it on my husband for brainwashing me with repeated showings of the SportsCenter Plays of the Day. I won’t even mention what Mike and Mike in the Morning would do to innocent women like me, but I believe it combines the plot of the Manchurian Candidate with infiltrating underaged Chinese gymnasts.
In my defense, quite a few moms and dads are somewhat annoying when it comes to watching their kids compete for any type of round, bounceable object. You want your child to do well and are proud of their accomplishments. Not to mention that you’ve gotta keep up with that dorky Jones kid from down the street. But some parents tend to go overboard. And I am afraid I am often one of them. In my experience, these rambunctious guardians of the game can be placed in one of several categories.
First, we have the Fanatic Fan. Sometimes parents just cheer incessantly for their own kid. A child could get hit in the forehead with six pop up fly balls, or worse yet, break another child’s nose with a pop up bat and still a mom would think that little Katie was the second coming of the Babe. I suppose that’s the beauty of unconditional love. Either that or someone truly doesn’t understand a damn thing about baseball. Now I’m not saying it’s necessarily a bad thing to fully support your little rookie in all his endeavors. But these certain parents take it to the extreme by usually putting down every other player on the field while at the same moment telling you how there child single handedly won the game for the past 12 seasons. And the kids only six. Generally, the punishment for these parents is the bitter recognition that they will most likely never be a mother of a future MLB player. But I wouldn’t mind throwing in a beating with an orange-filled mitt just for the heck of it.
Next up, the Bleacher Barkers. These are the moms and dad who have decided to coach their kids from the stands. Who cares what the actual coach plans for a play, every parent has a god-given right to call the offense his or her little power forward needs to execute. What ensues is chaos. Just like poultry getting trapped with a coyote in a coop, our little darlings start to run around like chickens without heads. Although great for posting to YouTube, having a bazillion different coaches does little to teach the fundamentals of the game. Especially when you have moms like me who only know how to shout “foul hard” and “throw some ‘bows”. Just call me a street baller.
Last but not least are the Referee Rilers. Harassing the ref’s are these parents’ specialty. I admit I fall into this category. And yes, I know referees have a hard job. It’s difficult to see every play of the game. Plus, these guys and gals get paid little for the harassment they endure, very little when you factor in those tacky black and white striped shirts they must wear. But I digress.
All and all, I have made it my mission to become a more calm fan. I cheer for both teams now. I try and remember that it’s just a game, and as long as my child is having fun, it’s a win. I’ve also learned to kiss up to the refs both before and after the game with kind words of appreciation and, if the time is right, a gift certificate to a sporting goods store. But the biggest change I have enacted to counteract my competitiveness with my kids sports is to take up a new athletic activity of my own. So if you see a masked mommy on inline skates roaming the streets with a hockey stick, just try not to coach from the sidelines. It’s amazing where those pucks can fit.