Writer’s Block: In the end, it’s just a game

It’s been a relatively quiet few weeks in our house as winter sports activities have ended and we wait for the snow to (hopefully) melt in time for the baseball/softball season to get under way.

The kids love to be active and participate in sports. As parents, my husband and I love to see them challenge themselves and grow in their knowledge and enjoyment of their chosen sports.

It’s great to watch their skills improve through practice and competition as the season continues.

We offer support and encouragement while they are competing. After, sometimes we offer tips to improve their play of the game. There’s certainly no yelling or berating of our kids.

I wish that were the case for all parents.

In a couple of the sports, we have to sign a parent code of conduct at the start of the season which basically says we will respect the coaches, players and officials. It’s about showing good sportsmanship as a parent and spectator.

Kelly Johnson
Kelly Johnson

The things outlined in those documents are pretty common sense, I would hope, for most parents and fans.

But as I learned last month, that’s not always the case.

This was my daughter’s first season playing a traveling sport – in her case, basketball.

We spent this winter traveling throughout the metro area watching basketball. It was fun watching her and her teammates grow in their skills and abilities and to see them learn to work together as a team.

They didn’t win very many games, but they had fun and enjoyed playing as a team.

Throughout the season, all the teams and parents we encountered were enthusiastic in the support of their team and even supported our girls when they found success.

As expected, coaches were intense but fair. Good sportsmanship was observed all around.

The season culminated in the state tournament in March, where teams of all abilities and grades played for top honors in their respective division.

That’s when my daughter and I witnessed one of the most horrifying displays I have ever seen.

It was hard to miss as we were coming up the high school steps after my daughter’s first game.

“It’s all your fault we lost. You always do that. Stop crying.” Those were among the phrases that echoed down the stairway.

As we turned the corner, the words were louder and the criticism continued. A few steps down the hall, the source of the outburst was visible.

Tucked into a doorway was a man standing over a girl, who looked to be about fifth- or sixth-grade at most, crying and visibly upset. And still the yelling continued.

A passerby told the man to knock it off. To which the man replied it was his daughter and he could talk to her however he wanted.

As we made our way into the parking lot, the man and his daughter followed behind us, the insults and criticisms continuing from the father while the young girl continued to sob.

When did a game or one’s performance in one in give a parent the right to accost their child?

When did a game’s outcome become more important than helping our children grow into self-confident, well-rounded individuals?

Even if she blew the game for her team, what makes it OK for a father to berate his daughter in that manner, especially in front of hundreds of other parents, players and coaches?

It’s only natural that we want our children to be successful in their endeavors and to learn the skills necessary to do so. But in doing so, we need to remember that these are our kids.

In the end it’s just a game. It’s but a small slice of the overall life experience and should be regarded as such.

Being a good parent is far more important that the final score or win-loss record. Life is the most important game of all.