Watching the Olympics — like, well, just about everything else — is different when you’re a parent. Instead of plotting my world-championship career in women’s curling, I’m instead thinking about the parents of these athletes. For most of the winter sports, there’s just not a lot of glory outside of the quadrennial spotlight. What there is a lot of, however, is travel to competitions, evenings and weekends spent in freezing cold rinks, and bills for equipment, lessons, coaches and ice time. From talking to friends who are hockey parents, it seems like it pretty much becomes your way of life and the payoff is in the friendships you make and in watching your child do something they really love.
There’s a reason, though, that there are some negative stereotypes around sports parents. There’s the yellers who chew out players, coaches, and refs; the ones who are convinvced their kid is the best thing to ever happen to baketball/hockey/gymnastics and the rest of the team exists solely to support their little star; and the people who are maybe just a little overinvested in their child’s success as a way to relieve their own glory days.
But even the best intentioned parent needs some pointers. Janis Meredith, who’s been a coach’s wife for 25 years and a sports parent for 15, offers up some good tips for “spectating” politely at your child’s games. A couple are so simple that I wish she hadn’t needed to include them, although I certainly can understand why she did. For example, realize that everyone in the stands around you likely has a child or grandchild on the team, so watch your criticism of other players. Also, remember to cheer for the team, not just your own child’s accomplishments.
If you’re a sports parent — or deal with them — the story’s worth checking out.