Football parents guilty of excessive celebration

| October 11, 2017 | 0 Comments

Photo courtesy of Lisa Smith Molinari

Lisa Smith Molinari
Contributing Writer

Ever since our kids’ peewee soccer days, my husband, Francis, and I have loved watching them play sports. Despite their average athletic skills, we planned our entire week around a Friday night football game, a Saturday morning cross-country meet, or a Wednesday afternoon tennis match. We wore spirit wear, baked cookies, volunteered and bellowed chants.

Some might label us as doting parents; others might say we need to get out more.

Regardless, I must admit, there have been times when our enthusiasm for our children’s competitions has gotten us into trouble.

Each sport has its own unwritten rules governing the behavior of spectators, and problems can arise when parents don’t conform to the unique standards for each sport.

For example, our son played high school football at three different high schools. By the time he went off to college, we had mastered football’s spectator rules.

On Friday nights, we proudly wore our 100 percent nylon mesh replica jerseys, emblazoned with our son’s number. We never ate before the game, preferring to get dinner from the concession stand, where a balanced game night meal consisted of a hot dog (protein), chips with nacho cheese (dairy) and ketchup (vegetable).

During the game, we were encouraged to exaggerate any feelings of pride, exhilaration, disappointment or anger.

“Hey, that’s MY kid! Woohoo!” yelled while pointing repeatedly at the player. Football parents were expected to hoot, holler and shout expletives that might otherwise be considered obnoxious or unkind.

No Woohoo here

But when our daughters joined cross-country teams, we realized that we might need to modify our spectator habits.

As virgin cross-country parents, we hated getting up in the middle of the night to be at an 8 a.m. away race, arriving at the course groggy and confused.

There were no bleachers to sit on ­– just hoards of leggy teenagers milling about on tarps in a grass field. The other parents looked like runners too, wearing trendy, moisture-wicking spandex and micro-fleece sportswear. We could smell no grilled pork products or locker room odors – only fresh air and a hint of cappuccino.

We never felt more lost and alone.

We heard the crack of a starting pistol, and suddenly, our daughter whizzed by us, among the pack. No sooner did the runners pass, than the crowd of parents started sprinting through a trail in the woods. We weren’t sure if there was a grizzly bear attacking us, or a clearance sale at Pottery Barn, but we followed along.

The jog led us to our next observation point, where Francis and I breathlessly yelled, flailed and gestured, “Hey, that’s our kid! C’mon Sweetie! Make ’em eat your dust!” The looks on the other parents’ faces made it clear that our exuberance was not appreciated.

After two more sprints to observation points, the race was over, and we found ourselves two-finger golf clapping with everyone else. All that sprinting left Francis and I famished but the only food available was granola bars and, unfortunately, they were for the team.

On the way home, while waiting in the drive-thru for a #7-With-Bacon-Go-Large, I realized that we’d learned valuable lessons about becoming cross-country parents: First, spectating the sport requires either an all-terrain vehicle with GPS navigation, or a personal defibrillator. Second, until someone starts deep-frying granola, one should keep a bag of Funyuns and a six-pack of Mountain Dew in the glove box to combat hunger.

(Visit Molinari at www.themeatandpotatoesoflife.com.)

 

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Category: Standing Columns, The Meat and Potatoes of Life

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