In defense of parents who aren’t insane

Readers. Friends. Countrymen and women. Lend me your ear and let’s chat about youth sports.

Youth sports. THE LAND OF THE INSANE.

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Marc and I are receiving an education this fall in youth sports. Up until this time, for the first fourteen years of our parenting life, we have been entirely naive. We have done church-league sports. Church-league sports are pretend sports. They are fun and light-hearted and always end in a juice box and an inspirational talk, even when we get clobbered 11-0.

You didn’t score one touchdown your entire season? No problem! Church-league sports says you have a great attitude! Take your trophy and go get ice cream!

You didn’t actually understand until the final game┬áthat each team has their own basket and it matters where that big orange ball ends up? No biggie! Church-league sports thinks you are the most improved player JUST BECAUSE YOU FINALLY FIGURED THAT OUT! Way to go! Here’s your trophy! Go get ice cream!

You don’t really want to keep score because that kind of thing is so deflating? Perfect! Church-league sports totally agrees! Score-keeping is for sadists! Here’s that trophy! Get a double scoop of ice cream!

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I really loved church-league sports. I could laugh and drink my hot chocolate and shrug when we lost. Again. IF THAT WAS EVEN TRUE, because we didn’t keep score! Boom!

We tried different leagues this fall, and let me tell you right now, THEY KEEP SCORE. And stats. And there is a weighing-in ceremony. And lots of gear. And puny-looking children running around terrified and tackling each other.

But this is not what I want to discuss, the puny terrified kids. I want to discuss the huge and crazy-town parents. Do you know these parents? Have you seen them? I’m talking personalized clothing and bleacher chairs, emblazoned with their child’s face and home phone number in case a pro scout needs to reach them. I’m talking parents getting to the game AN HOUR BEFORE KICK-OFF because they don’t want to miss a minute. I’m talking yellers. Have you seen the yellers? Have you heard the unrestrained and loud opinions on the referee’s performance? Have you heard the profanity?

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Can I just take a minute to encourage a cultural deep breath? THESE ARE CHILDREN. THEY ARE CLUELESS. THEY STILL PICK THEIR NOSES AND STRUGGLE WITH HYGIENE.

Why are we yelling at them?

And the refs. The refs, if they are paid, rake in about 83 cents an hour. Are we really going to wig out when they get it wrong? The refs in our league, while they seem like very kind gentlemen, are not bionic men. They might, in fact, be blind. Have we considered this? They could be blind AND YET WE YELL ON. What have we become?

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Listen, if you are headed to a youth sport experience this weekend, will you just sit down and breathe deeply? Take along a book to read. Pick up crochet. Hold a stress ball in each hand, but do not throw them at the ref when he messes up a call. HE WILL mess up a call BECAUSE HE IS VISUALLY IMPAIRED. Eighty-three cents an hour, people. Perspective.

Here’s a quick reminder: Only two percent of high school athletes receive an athletic scholarship for college play. And only one percent of that very, very select group will go on to go play professional sports. In other words, we would be wiser to start prepping for the CPA exam. There are more future accountants on that field than pro athletes, EVEN THOUGH YOU HAD HIS FACE SCREEN PRINTED ON YOUR SHIRT.

Let’s bring back the sanity. Go out there and be quiet. Smile and wave and cheer on your CPA. And for the love of Pete, don’t forget the ice cream.

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