Analyzing and assholes…yes…one is the derivative of the other…

IMG_3098“Mom, you need to skate harder.” That’s what my 9 year old told me when I was getting off the ice the other day. The disdain on his face. I was horrified. My heart rate is off the charts. The only thing I can concentrate on is breathing. And that’s involuntary. In other words, I don’t have to think to breathe. My body just does it. Never mind having my personal game being analyzed! I’m not listening. That takes effort. The only effort I can exert at this point is to breathe. Just breathe. Of course, when I score, he is the one screaming the loudest. Cheering the hardest. A proud son. “That’s my mom!”

Sound familiar? That’s us. As parents. So obnoxious. Please. For the love of God…shut your pie hole! Stop yelling at your kids, the refs, the umps, the other kids, the other parents, the coaches. Just stop. Stop analyzing the game. Don’t be that asshole.

I’m not sure who’s worse. Volleyball parents. Football parents. Soccer parents. Hockey parents. Basketball parents. The list goes on and on and on… I’ve watched hundreds of games over the years. What goes on during the sidelines is far more interesting. But it shouldn’t be. We’re supposed to be there cheering on our kids. Not analyzing them. Good grief. Not sure who is worse. The parent who played and “knows” everything or the parent who never played and still “knows” everything.

Two years ago, a mother of another teammate of my daughter was yelling at her daughter for missing a volleyball serve. So, I asked her how many years she played volleyball. Knowing full well she never did. Yes. I was exercising my right to put her in her place. But I wanted to hear it out of her mouth. So after she said she never played (imagine the shock on my face…), I quizzically looked at her for berating her daughter for missing her serve. Have you ever stood on a court with every eye on you watching you? Waiting for you to miss. That’s a lot of pressure for a 10 year old. So lay off. ESPECIALLY, if you have NEVER stood there with all eyes watching you. Judging you. Then cheering when you miss. Seriously?

That’s another asshole issue. I get you’re happy your team won the point but you won it on an error from the other team not from some well played offensive play from your team. In my book, you win the point when your team does something to make that happen. You merely gain the point when the other team makes an error. Learn the difference when you decide to yell and “cheer” for you team’s point. So stop. It’s obnoxious. Just stop.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m my kids’ biggest fan. But I need to keep this in check. Seriously.

Why is the root word of analyze “anal?” And why does anal refer to assholes? We are all guilty of analyzing our kids’ games. How they played. How it was coached. How the refs missed this and that. Yada Yada Yada. All of us. Me included. But when my son feels the need to analyze my play, I’m stumped. And it really makes me pause. Makes me question my behavior. Why the hell am I doing this to him? Exactly, what do I have to gain doing this to him?

Why are any of us doing this to our kids? Don’t be that asshole.

Side note to all hockey parents…

The best part of hockey is the glass. When I’m on the ice, I can’t hear anything. And neither can your kid. So go on yacking. I can’t hear a word you say. You just look like an analyzing asshole (sorry…I’m being redundant!) anyway. But I have seen parents yelling at their kids through the tiny strip of air between the glass where the Zamboni enters the ice. Very entertaining watching them yell thru a tiny 1/2″ gap. Yep. Entertaining and Absurd. Don’t be that asshole unless you want me to blog about you.

What’s your win/loss record? Is that what we should really measure? In sports? In life?

March 3, 2015

Ask me mine? I can honestly say that I have no clue. None. Yet, every time we see a coach on tv, his/her coaching record is always prominently displayed. Ok, maybe it’s important in the pros and college but youth sports? Ummm…NO. It doesn’t matter. Yet, we, as a society, are so focused on winning. Don’t get me wrong. I’m competitive and I do like to win–with an asterisk. Let me be very clear about this. I only like to win when the competition is competitively matched. Ever been on the end of an ass whipping? Ever given one? Neither is fun for me. As a player, parent, or coach.

I read an article today on 22 ways to be a good youth sports parent. What about being a good youth sport coach? I’ve done it now for 10 years in the YMCA. Yep. Volunteer. No pay. I’ve given hundreds of hours of my time, if not more. I have failed plenty as a coach. And, I’m not talking about the score of the game. But I’ve also had many wins in the games I’ve coached. Again. Not talking about the score. In the 8th season of coaching my 6th grade daughter’s volleyball. The biggest win for me is that I still have the same group of girls I’ve had since day one. Sure, we have lost one or two. But we have the same core group. Let me tell you about these girls. They never even touched a volleyball before 3rd grade. They certainly aren’t the most athletic girls, either. But they have heart. I always say, I can teach skill but I can’t teach heart. We got our butts whipped plenty of times. I have no clue what our win/loss record is. And I really don’t care. But we finally got our championship last year. We were down significantly in the 3rd game (you only play 3 games so this really counted!). I have to admit that I gave up hope. But they didn’t. They came back and scored 9 unanswered points. And went on to win. I was STUNNED. The sheer tenacity of these girls sent them soaring past their opponent. I was shocked. The other team was shocked. The other coach couldn’t believe what had just happened. And neither could I. Eight seasons. Over 60 games. There is no way I can remember all the wins and losses. But I remember the feeling. I remember the elation these girls felt. No one can ever take that away from them. It’s youth sports at its most raw moment. All I did was show them how to hit a ball. I did tell them that all good athletes are confident. They showed confidence that day. I’ll never forget that.

My other daughter’s team never won a championship. Doesn’t even matter. Because we won a different sort of championship. We had a girl with down syndrome on our team. I thought to myself…how the hell am I going to coach a child with down syndrome? After coaching her, I realized that putting a check in the win column isn’t that important. Her getting the ball over the net was a win. What I remember most about those days was the girls dog piling her when she would get a serve over and we won the point. THAT IS A WIN IN MY BOOK! The compassion these girls felt for her simply amazed me.

I’m not one of those athletes who peaked in high school. I’m lucky. I still get to play every week in a competitive environment. I don’t have to live vicariously through my children and their sports. Sure, I get excited watching them. Both my daughter’s and my son’s teams won their basketball championships last month. And, yes, that gets my adrenaline flowing. But, good god, keep it in check! That I have to remember…The little 3rd grade boys on the other team were booing and yelling “miss it” when my son was shooting a free throw. THAT PUT ME OVER THE EDGE. If I was their coach, I would have benched everyone of them. But, then again, if I was their coach, that NEVER would have happened. WTF? 3rd grade YMCA sports. Really? I was so embarrassed for that other team. Their parents. Their coaches. Their players. The win won’t stick with me near as long as the behavior of those boys. 8 and 9 year olds. What are we creating here when little kids act like this? Am I missing something here? Is this acceptable?

I could tell story after story of the behavior of coaches, parents, and kids in this town in youth sports. Mine included. There have been times when I acted like a complete asshole. And I am mortified when I do that. I have to ask myself, “Is it worth it”? Hell no! Luckily, the good behavior far outweighs the bad…

So instead of counting wins vs. losses…Why don’t we count good behavior vs. bad behavior…good character vs. bad character…good choices vs. bad choices? Maybe those things are a far better gauge of youth sports than the win/loss ticker…