Forget the Game, Watch the Parents.

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This morning I noticed something while watching my daughter’s soccer game.

It occurred to me that the parents are far more interesting to watch than the game itself. Of course, I had time to let my mind wander because my kid was busy catching her breath after running semi-hard for nearly 14 straight seconds.

She was alternating between grasping her chest and wiping her forehead. This sounds like I am picking on her, but this was during warm-ups.

For a moment, I thought she might get sick but then I realized that would take effort (in her defense before the game she did walk to the car by herself… while carrying her Nintendo DS… that is what we call progress).

She needed a break and the coach needed a player who didn’t think they were going to pass out.

While she got a much needed (in her mind) rest on the sidelines, I started to notice the parents around me.>Soccer.  I Just Don’t Get It.

And by around me, I mean the ones within 25 yards of my general area.

You see, as a highly trained school administrator, I know that the keys to enjoying an athletic event are: don’t stand or sit with the parents, don’t make eye-contact, and most definitely don’t engage anyone in small talk.

My wife thinks I am a loner. I have no idea where she comes up with these crazy ideas, but I wish she would get away from me (it’s a joke).

The thing that struck me about the parents was that you could break them into 3 distinct groups.

The first group would be parents like my wife and I. I am going to refer to them as the Observers.

They are at the game to support all the kids on the team.

They are thrilled that their child is participating and not growing even lazier by watching the Saturday SpongeBob SquarePants marathon.

They are not screamers. You won’t catch them threatening the referee or coach. In fact, they are probably ecstatic that another parent volunteered to coach so they can take a season off (that would be me).

These parents cheer for the kids and the good plays from both teams. In their eyes, athletics is a way to get exercise, learn discipline, and be part of a team.

Good hearted, hardworking, tax-paying people like myself (at least that is what I like to believe… they may be just stopping by the game before they go pick up water and beef jerky for their compound).

The second type of parent are the ones I like to call the Obnoxiously Loud Ones.

They are much more into the game than the Observers. They cheer/scream for the good plays and complain/scream to anyone within listening distance about the bad ones.

From time to time, they will yell directions to their kid (and by time to time, I mean every 3 seconds). They feel the need to share knowledge that they picked up from their time sitting on the bench when they played sports in junior high.

They don’t coach the team because that would cut into their time second guessing the person who is.

Usually, these are very nice people. They are very supportive of their children.

They want to win and if their team doesn’t, it is obviously the referees fault.

Nice people, but just like the animals at the zoo they are best observed from a distance.

The last group are the ones that worry me.

They are the Insane Ones Who Have No Concept of Reality.

If you make the mistake of striking up a conversation with them, you are in for 45 minutes of listening to “when they played” conversation.

They have very interesting stories about high school. Too bad, all of these things happened 29 years ago. Which isn’t bad, except nothing else exciting has happened to them since?


These are people who not only cheer for their kids and yell at the ref, but they live for the next game.

They have all of the qualities of the Obnoxiously Loud ones mixed in with a just a dash of Crazy (and by dash, I mean boatload).

They are excited. At the game. Before the game. Driving to the game (with painted windows on their vehicle). And at work 6 days in advance of the game.

They think about the game. A lot. In fact, all the time.

The love it. Sometimes a little too much.

They are positive their child will receive a full-ride athletic scholarship. Or win a gold medal in the Olympics. Or at the very least, start every game in high school, win numerous MVP awards, be
named Homecoming King or Queen, and get their picture in the newspaper at least 5 times a week.

They were legends (in their own minds) and the child will carry on this tradition. Just ask them (but, really don’t).

When you break it down, all parents fit into 1 of the 3 groups.

If you don’t believe me watch the parents at the next game you attend.

Just don’t make the mistake of engaging them in conversation. Unless, of course you want to hear about the game winning shot they made in the semi-finals of the JV basketball tournament in which they dominated in 1981.

I heard it was amazing.

Actually, I overheard it. Remember, I don’t get that close.

Especially after this blog.

LATE ADDITION: It has been pointed out to me that I have forgotten a 4th group of parents. The VideoTapers. They are the ones who miss out on watching every event that their child participates in because they are too busy trying to tape it for later viewing. Which brings up the question… who really wants to “rewatch” a 7 year old’s soccer or t-ball game?

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8 Responses to “Forget the Game, Watch the Parents.”

  1. Angie
    on Oct 10th, 2008
    @ 9:33 am

    My son just started soccer (5 years old-played 3 games). The first game he got hit somehow. I didn’t see it, just noticed him holding his face. We made eye contact (big mistake) and then – in the middle of the game-came running off the field crying. I tried to push him back him (at this point my husband called me “cold-hearted.”) and told him he couldn’t just leave the field when he wanted. The good news is that he hasn’t done it the past two games, so I think he got the message. My husband and I are definitely in the first category. We hate the tunnel hand thing. We refuse to do it. I pack up the chairs (look busy) to avoid eye contact with the weirdos who will yell at me to get out on the field and make a tunnel! Not doing it. I love my child and everything, but isn’t actually signing him up, paying the fee, buying shorts and socks and cleats and taking him to practice and games every week enough? I’m even willing to provide “snacks” (ie: sugar) whenever I’m told to. I will not tunnel or paint my car or buy a fake soccer ball that looks like it busted through your windshield thing. My son needs to understand that, while I love him tremendously and it’s all about him for one hour on Saturdays, the rest of the world does not revolve around him. And-even more important- the outcome of the game will not be rehashed at home for 3 hours so he can “improve his skills.”

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