Sports comment: Silence would be golden at sports events
Posted by Dean Holden at May 1st, 2013
by Gerry Jackson, 28 April 2013
As my youngest daughter’s college athletic career winds to a close, I have a small piece of advice for the next generation of sports parents: Shut up and enjoy the game.
You see, during the last two decades of watching my daughters participate in a wide variety of sports, I think I’ve heard just about it all from some rather vocal parents.
Some of the comments at games were comical and some bordered on downright criminal. Either way, I could have surely used a little more peace and quiet — or perhaps a set of ear plugs.
If you think I exaggerate, do yourself a favor before you sign your kid up for a sport. Venture over to the nearest recreation, high school or college field. Settle into a spot near a group of parents and listen to what they have to say.
From my experience, it will not be pleasant listening.
Most of the more vocal parents fall into a few easy-to-recognize categories:
- There’s the father who think he’s the reincarnation of Woody Hayes, Mr. Motivator. He’s going to scream at the top of his lungs from 40 yards away and think Junior is going to pick up on his every word. “Get back on defense,” “Move the ball,” “Guard No. 5,” and “Rebound” are just a few of Woody’s pearls of wisdom. Never mind that Junior is probably lost in the moment and might just be listening for instruction from his coach or communication from a teammate.
- There’s the mom who thinks she’s ready to be the next rules interpreter for the NCAA, even though she’s never cracked a rule book in her life. “Come on ref, just call it both ways;” “open your eyes” and “there are two teams out there” are phrases this mom just can’t live without. Beware: this mom usually comes with cowbell in tow.
- There’s the grandfather who is getting ready to succeed Tim McCarver as Fox Sports’ next high-paid broadcast analyst because he can dissect coaching strategy better than Bobby Knight or Digger Phelps. “What’s he doing?” “Why are we in a zone?” and “Why are we in man-to-man?” are some of his most-popular gripes.
- There’s the loudmouth who just has to let everyone know that he was an All-Conference player at East Ohio State in 1983 and needs to share his commentary on everything and anything. He usually knows some of the more intricate phrases such as “warding off” in lacrosse; “illegal screen” in basketball; or “third-man obstruction” in field hockey. You’ve got to show them you are an expert after all.
- There’s the mom or dad who just can’t let their kid mature and needs to have words with the coach after each game, especially about playing time. Never mind that one thing sports should be teaching your kid is interpersonal skills and how to stand up on their own — especially at the high school or college level.
Trust me these games aren’t easy-listening 101.9-FM. In fact, if you don’t come away with a headache, maybe you’re ready to be Team Mom or Tailgate Dad.
Growing up, my siblings and I always wondered why our father stood off by himself at virtually every ball game he attended. We deduced that he didn’t want to offend one of the other spectators while he smoked his El Producto Blunt cigar. One day, one of my brothers asked him about his seemingly anti-social behavior. My dad replied that he really didn’t care what the other parents thought of his cigar, he could not stand to listen to all of their complaints about the officials, coaches and players.
So I guess it’s in the genes because when the going gets tough on the ears, I find myself looking for my “cigar spot” even though I’ve never smoked.
Face it, parents just shouldn’t be heard at games unless it’s to deliver an encouraging word or perhaps shout a hearty “O” during the National Anthem.
I’ve been blessed to have been able to watch so many of my daughters’ games over the years and I’m looking forward to attending more of my nieces’ and nephews’ games. I just hope I don’t have to resort to using those ear plugs since most campuses these days are no-smoking zones.