A few weeks ago my 75-year-old mother was in town visiting and I forgot our sun shade during a VERY hot afternoon soccer game. Our only choice was to sit on the outer rim of the field where a tree was kind enough to block out part of the sun. What seemed like a bummer at the time, turned into one of the most important gifts I never could have imagined.
We watched the entire game, as outsiders, set apart from the energy of the parents. And by stepping outside of this sports-parenting ring, an interesting phenomenon occurred. We became observers, detached viewers with no stake in the game. We enjoyed it, but didn’t live and die by it. It removed all of the emotion I typically have during a game. We were safe from the dad who screams incessantly at his daughter, or the parents who always know better than the coach and walk up and down the sideline making their case to the rest of us. It was nice not being privy to the jeering whenever our parents clearly felt wronged by the referees. No, from our perch away from the sideline, it was hard to know if my daughter was out of position or not. If she had a great play or whether possibly it was another child. But we saw enough. We witnessed an amazing goal off a corner kick and then got excited and nervous as the other team raced down and almost tied it up. But we had no parental “energy” swirling around us, affecting our moods and thoughts about the game. It was such a relief. It became solely my daughter’s event, as it should be, not mine. After the game, I hugged her and congratulated her with no agenda about how she played. It was a breath of fresh air for both of us.
Since that day, I have consistently searched out these sorts of spots to watch the game. And it doesn’t matter what sport it is. I find a nook away from the crowd. I find this keeps me from getting caught up in the “sports parent energy” and also keeps me out of earshot when my kids aren’t playing well and I can’t contain myself from muttering a few unkind words under my breath … or out loud. See, it’s a win-win for everyone.