An AAU basketball player settles down and sinks a clutch free throw to seal a big tournament win.
“I see you!” yells a parent. ”I SEE you, Tommy!” he yells again, with verve. Without looking at the stands, the player smiles, appreciative of some positive reinforcement after a hard-fought win.
The next time we attend a youth sporting event, academic competition or arts performance, let’s step back and watch and listen to our fellow spectators. Let’s listen to ourselves if our child is in the game or on stage. What are people — what are we — yelling from the stands or whispering among ourselves? What do we see that makes us yell or say these things?
Are there more words of support and encouragement? Do the majority of cheers and comments reward effort, team play and good sportsmanship?
What do we say to our child on The Ride Home?
One of the best pieces of advice we came across when writing our +PlayWell guide was from an article, “What Makes a Nightmare Sports Parent and What Makes a Great One,” by two gentlemen named Bruce E. Brown and Rob Miller of Proactive Coaching LLC:
“… College athletes were asked what their parents said that made them feel great, that amplified their joy during and after a ballgame. Their overwhelming response: I love watching you play.“
Whether it’s sports, debate, Odyssey of the Mind or performing arts, let’s support each other as parents around the idea of letting the coaches coach and letting the players play/perform. And let’s take a deep breath, really see our kids doing what they love — with all the imperfections, and truly enjoy the journey!