I was a musical theater nerd growing up, but thanks to my husband’s genes my kid is all about sports. I’m slowly trying to adjust to this world of far-away tournaments and brown knee stains that never come out in the wash. I’m learning to cope with the feelings that arise when your kid is in the midst of a pressure-cooker of a game (Side note: I’ve never before felt the way I felt last Saturday, when my son took to the pitcher’s mound in a playoff game for his travel baseball team. I wasn’t sure if I was going to throw up or burst into tears or explode with pride, or all three at once. I guess that’s par for the course for a baseball mom).
Since I’m new to this world, I really don’t know how to act. Do I cheer my son on, or stay silent? Speak up when I feel he’s been shortchanged by a coach, or let it slide? If I react too enthusiastically to a win, will that send my son the message that winning is everything? And what do I say when he’s crushed by a loss, or has had an objectively tough game and hasn’t played well?
As a newly minted sports parent, I clearly have a lot of questions. I recently came across an article that answers at least some of them. In this piece, written in 2017 by Jennifer Wallace and Lisa Heffernan at the Washington Post, the then-managers of the Yankees and Cardinals shared their thoughts on how to be an effective sports parent. Both of these managers are dads who shepherded their children through sports careers. I loved what these guys had to say (which in my reading of it effectively boiled down to sit down, shut up, and get out of your kid’s way). Hope you learn as much from the piece as I did.