Anyone with kids who play youth sports knows that in order to survive a long season on the sidelines, you need to have your network — a group of like-minded parents who make sitting in the stands more enjoyable. Whether it’s sharing an umbrella in the rain or snuggling under a single blanket in the cold, cheering our kids to victory or commiserating about yet another loss, having a good set of parents on the sidelines can make even the most unbearable season bearable.
Let’s be honest. Youth sports isn’t all fun and games. Long hours, extreme weather, crazy parents, unbalanced teams … It can be downright brutal some days. And because alcohol is frowned upon at youth sporting events, you need a good group of sideline friends to get you through. This circle of companions often varies with each team, although there can be some overlap, which only makes it stronger. If you’re lucky, your network remains unbroken as the kids get older and friendships are forged in the off-season. For me, with two sports-loving, athletic boys who play a variety of sports for a multitude of organizations, I spend my fair share of time at a host of fields, courts and tracks. Consequently, I currently have 13 respective networks to get me through the year: Two football networks (two kids, two teams), six basketball (depending on the team and the kid), four lacrosse (again, depending on the team and kid), plus a track and field network that I’m still developing. Some groups are big and some are small, but each provides me with a sense of camaraderie and community that I cherish.
Case in point: U11 spring lacrosse — my younger son’s team. Despite having played lacrosse since he was in kindergarten with pretty much this same group of boys, my fourth grader’s team isn’t very good this year (for a variety of reasons). With double-digit losses each week, we’re off to a rough start. I’m not one of those parents who makes a big deal about wins and losses, but one win would be nice … or at least a smaller deficit loss. Honestly, some games have been painful to watch! And while it’s no fun to lose, it is fun to watch with my sideline sisters who’ve been with me for the past five years. In the words of Billy Joel, “We might be laughing a bit too loud, but that never hurt no one…”
So as the spring sports season chugs along, be sure to bring your sunglasses, water bottle and support system to each game. It really is more fun that way!