A Plea to Sports Parents

Chill. Out.

I’m at my daughter’s soccer game. It’s a spectacular October morning. Everything is perfect. Except for the yelling.

It’s not just the noise of the yelling, which makes me wish I’d forgotten my hearing aids at home. It’s the intensity of it. The shrillness of it. The absolute unnecessary-ness of it.

I just witnessed a 12-year-old burst into tears because her mom was screaming so much, both generally and specifically critiquing her play on the field. The poor girl literally lost it, turning to her mother during play, and sobbed:

“Stop it! Just stop it! Stop yelling at me!”

Broke my heart.

The ref stopped play to check on the player, who dried her eyes and said she was fine. The rest of the players and spectators applauded her as if she’d just stood up after an injury – which, in essence, she did. An emotional one.

And now? Crickets. The whole place is shushed and saddened. The tenor of this October morning has changed.

Parents, I gotta tell you: If your “words of encouragement” drive your kids to tears, you’re doing something very wrong.

I beg you to check yourselves and remember your role. You’re not here to coach, or officiate, or live vicariously through your kid. You’re here to watch and support. To cheerlead. To empower. To show your love.

And if you can’t do that, may I recommend some duct tape? It comes in lovely colors these days.

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