Our older son starts T-Ball this month. It will be his first experience on an organized sports team. He’s taken tennis lessons and he loves being active — riding his bike, running, throwing balls — but he’s never been part of a team, with a coach and with other parents watching him play. He’s thrilled.
Me? I’m excited for him but I’m feeling nervous, too.
I played soccer in elementary school and continued playing until I was a senior in high school and wasn’t good enough to make the varsity team. While in high school, I also added tennis and cross-country running to my sports activities. I was never the best player on any of my teams, but I had fun. Playing sports kept me busy and introduced me to friends I still have today.
So, why would I be nervous as I begin my first sports season on the sidelines? I’m nervous because of the other adults with whom our son will come into contact. Chances are they will be great, but there’s also a chance that they won’t share the approach to sports that my husband and I have adopted. We see sports as a means for our kids to be healthy and happy. If that includes winning a game, great. If that includes losing a game, great. What matters is the activity and the experience. I can’t imagine yelling at my sons about sports. I can’t imagine taking it so seriously that I’d argue with a coach or the referee. But I know some parents and coaches do take kids sports seriously. Very seriously.
I’m nervous that playing sports will open up my son to criticism that I’d rather he didn’t experience. Advice on how to throw? Yes, of course! Encouragement about trying his best? Definitely. Verbal abuse disguised as coaching or an “excited” parent on the bleachers? No thanks.
I was fortunate to have coaches who knew the real value in sports: teamwork and personal goals. I am hoping that I’ll find the same types of coaches as I enter the world of kids sports from my new spot on the sidelines.
As they say, let’s play ball.
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