In our house we eat, sleep, and breathe sports. Our weekends are spent on the sidelines, and my washing machine is always running because of smelly and muddy uniforms—and I LOVE it. But you know what I don’t love? The absurdly awful parents on the soccer sidelines and baseball bleachers who are poor sports and setting a bad example for kids both on and off the team. It’s mind blowing that so many parents want to live through their children’s athletic prowess and are turning what should be a fun environment into a toxic one. So I’m sharing some tips for Sports Sideline Etiquette to remind all of us what our role is at our kids’ next big game.
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As I’ve shared on my blog and social media channels, I LOVE sports. I mean, I schedule my Sundays around kickoff, I bleed Cubby blue, and I have been known to stay up WAY too late when a game goes into overtime. But when it comes to my kids playing sports, it’s different.
You won’t hear me scream “Rip his head off!” like I may or may not during the Bears game (I swear I don’t mean it) and I will applaud any great play—no matter the team. Why? Because I’m a parent and we set the tone for our players—whether we like it or not.
While parents all may have a different level of competitiveness and dedication to their kids’ athletic activities, it is imperative that all of us abide by Sports Sideline Etiquette. Not only does it create a better playing environment, but it also teaches our youth, both on and off the field, how THEY should act.
Sports Sideline Etiquette Tip #1
Remember that your playing days are over (#sorrynotsorry). You aren’t on the team. Instead, you are a CHEERLEADER. Cheerleaders don’t boo, do they? No. They CHEER. NO. MATTER. WHAT.
Just yesterday my son’s soccer team got creamed 9-0. Was it uncomfortable? Sure. Were the kids disappointed? Somewhat. Were the parents cheering? You know it. Because no matter what, you can always find a bright spot. Need some suggestions?
“I like the way you ___!”
“Way to help your team!”
“I love watching you play!”
“I am proud of you!”
Fumble around with words? Then find another way to showcase your team spirit. Personalized photo buttons are always a hit and make your child feel oh so special.
Sports Sideline Etiquette Tip #2
Look around. You aren’t in a major league stadium, the players aren’t paid athletes. They are kids. And there are kids on the sidelines. Depending on the league or level, the referee/umpire is a teenager. Your conduct should be family friendly, no matter how upset or irritated you might be. End of discussion.
Sports Sideline Etiquette Tip #3
Have some perspective. Maybe you have dreams that your child will be an Olympian or at the very least get a college scholarship based on his or her athletic ability. That’s awesome. It really is. Encouraging your child to have big dreams is WONDERFUL. But freaking out, berating them, and criticizing their play doesn’t help.
Chances are, they will “Go Pro in Something Else” as the NCAA commercials say, and it would be more helpful for you to teach them how to act as an athlete (work hard, stay humble, be determined, collaborate with others, etc.) so that they can learn life skills that extend way off the field or court.
Sports Sideline Etiquette Tip #4
This season I had to deal with an extremely rude neighbor who would run his mouth off, criticizing my husband’s coaching every week on the soccer sidelines. Here’s the thing. My husband was donating his time (and money!), leaving work early and coaching energetic boys who don’t always listen while this other parent simply complained without offering any solution.
There is nothing worse than someone who will whine and complain but do nothing about it. Oh, and spoiler alert—each and every kid on the team has been having a blast this season and the soccer squad is GREAT. So take that, crabby pants. And if it is too hard to keep your mouth shut, bring a lollipop to the game to keep your mouth busy. It works for toddlers and unruly parents.
Sports Sideline Etiquette Tip #5
Say thank you. To the team mom who tries to keep track of all the rescheduled games, the referees who work to help your child learn the game and stay safe all at once, and most importantly—the coaches!
Whether they are parent volunteers or paid coaches, they deserve your thanks. Sometimes coaching kids can be like herding cats and appreciation must be given—maybe via a Starbucks gift card. 😉
Sports Sideline Etiquette Tip #6
Remember, it is just a game. That kids are playing. CHILL OUT.
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