A dad of a kid on my kid’s team is really working himself up, fulminating on the sidelines, lobbying the refs for a foul call against an opposing player. He’s really loud, and his accusations have clearly gotten under the skin of the parents of the opposing team. They are starting to jaw back at him, when one Profound Dad offers the above nugget of wisdom.
I regularly spend six or more hours per weekend on the sidelines of youth sports games. I’m inclined to observe parental behavior, and I don’t get to hear much that I like. But I did like the notion of “watching the other game” because it’s so apt. Opposing sets of parents see very different games. In truth, every individual parent on that sideline saw a very different game, by virtue of being a parent. I root for the team, but the stakes are completely different when my kid is off the field. The game we won 1-0 didn’t feature a great goal, it featured stout defense (my kid plays back). Another dad just sees that his kid sat on the bench — poor bench management.
I’m really rooting for my kid in a game that stars him.
To the extent that I “root” at all. As I’ve often claimed, I’m cultivating a Phil Jackson zen-like sideline impassivity. Like Phil, I’ve got the loud whistle going every now and then. Maybe a clap every once in a while or offer a general “go team” kind of cheer. On the inside I’m churning with non-zen desires of all stripes, of course. But on the outside I’m a Phil wanna-be.
There are a few other dads that follow the Phil School, but most are much more like Bobby Knight. Maybe that’s an overstatement, but lots of guys approach watching kids’ games with an attitude that ranges from Armchair Analyst to Unofficial Head Coach. They argue calls, second guess strategy, bark instructions to their kid.
You never hear moms do this. Not that moms are quiet. If you go to one of my daughter’s games, bring earplugs. These ladies have pipes. The difference is what they yell. I have never heard a mom try to coach a kid from the sideline. I don’t think I’ve heard one criticize a kid or question the coach’s game plan. They are more likely to know all the kids names, and to encourage a player that is not their child.
I’m sure we can gin up a bunch of sociological reasons why this difference exists. I just know that from now on, to hell with Phil, I’m gonna cheer like a mother.