Monday, September 13, 2004

Sports Parenting

Soccer moms is the generic phrase for mothers that support their kids in sports. This usually conjures up the image of a mini-van, from which the mom takes the kids, the gear, snacks, friends, neighbors, chairs, coolers, etc. to and from soccer games, smiling all the way.
Really, it is actually the fine art of "sports parenting", which includes encouraging and supporting the athlete emotionally and financially, to actually just driving them places. There appears to be a fine line of positive reinforcement vs. expecting too much from your athlete, ultimately using the carrot of money invested and/or wasted. You want your child to feel good about themselves from a positive sports experience, but at what cost to the family in opportunity cost -- missing meals, fast food on-the-go, interesting meetings or classes forsaken, feeding a carload of kids that don't say thank you, buying gas and sitting in traffic jams or just waiting in pick up or dropoff lines. This does not include buying those portable foldup chairs, or sitting in the hot sun or rain to watch their events.
All the evidence indicates that these activities reward your child many times over, with their self esteem and body image enhanced, and maybe, for a few, a college scholarship, the Olympics or a lifelong fitness activity. Does all that make the late nights or early mornings worth it? I try to convince myself that it does, as my daughter has finally found a sport she wants to continue. In the end, our love for her, and her well-being, are more important than anything else I could be doing (even sleep!). I cannot make an excuse, however, for the parental politics involved in running the team and favoritism displayed by the coaches.