I was that Sports Parent. As I'm writing this, I sit here watching my almost 12-year old daughter do her thing as a catcher for the local little league softball team.Sarah's only been playing now for 2 seasons, but she loves it. Her ability to pick up the game and perform at a high level in such a short time has been a joy to watch.Her determination to get better every game and encourage her teammates when they make a good play is what I'm most proud of.
For me, becoming a "Softball Dad" has also been a learning experience. Last year in Sarah's first year, I remember being petrified that she wasn't going to know which base to run to.The first time she swung the bat and actually made contact with a pitch, I recall myself yelling, "run to the right Sarah!!" Not only did she run to first, but she ran to 2nd base too.
She got a double and suddenly my fears were calmed a bit.3 months later, believe it or not, the kid who may or may not have known which base to run to, was playing on the All-Star team. The ALL-STAR TEAM! I couldn't have been more proud as a Dad.But something happened to me along the boulevard of softball dreams that I always said I'd never do. I became "that parent."I became the parent who cheers loudly for her daughter but also thinks he knows more than the coaches, more than the umpires, more than anyone, when he's watching the game.
The parent that would obnoxiously call out the umpire when he made a bad call against my daughter. That was me.My wife recognized it right away. As I stood up from my camping chair on a warm 80-degree June day to ask the umpire why he called that last pitch that was clearly low and inside, a strike, my wife looked up at me and simply said, "Sit down, shut up, and cheer your daughter on."
Dawn was right. And I realized that I was doing what many other parents do. I was making the game more about me and less about her. This was not what I wanted and I vowed to be better in Sarah's 2nd season. (Of course, as I write this, I whispered to my wife that the ump just missed an obvious out call at first base)James 1:19 says "Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry." These are words I think all parents would be wise to incorporate into their lives as they watch their kids participate in sports.Sure I want her to win.Of course I don't want a bad call go against her.
But if I'm being honest, I just want Sarah to have fun and not be embarrassed by her Dad who thinks he knows it all when it comes to sports.Slow to speak. It's not just something I need to work on at Sarah's softball games but I'd be wise to try and incorporate this principle into all areas of my life.As we all are, I'm a work in progress.