It seems like only yesterday I was looking forward to going to son's youth baseball games and my daughter's youth soccer games. The days of watching 5 year olds bumbling around the field are over for me and the games have gotten a lot more serious over the past couple of seasons. Never mind my child's nerves before a big game... What about mine?
The games are still a blast for the kids but I've noticed that they're taking a toll on the parents and I know I'm not alone. I'm noticing a lot more anxious parents as the kids get older and I know it's going to get a lot worse on us mentally before it gets better.
Parents are starting to become bitter at refs and umps and getting more vocal in their displeasure towards coaching decisions. Dads start to pace and moms start gnawing on fingernails. Throw in the hyper-exuberance of fans over-cheering on the opposing sideline and these games can become pressure cookers for parents.
I also find myself getting more stressed when I think about what the mini athletes are going through during the game. Is my son secretly hoping no one hits the ball to him in centerfield? Does he want to bat with 2 outs in the last inning or is he wishing he was doing something else? Per usual, the kids seem to handle the pressure with grace. Parents like me could probably take notes from the kids in that regard.
The "good old days" were when all the kids' uniforms hung below their knees and they didn't have a prayer of getting anyone out anyway. Any ball topped off a T-ball tee was a home run as the kids circled the bases with parents whooping it up and taking pictures.
We love to talk about the lessons of youth sports for kids. The winning, the losing, the teamwork... I think the lessons of youth sports for parents should be to try to enjoy the early years, when the games are truly "just for fun", for as long as possible.