Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Let Kids Be Kids

I try to keep my blog to 'rock' related things and podcasts, but I have to say something about kids sports.

As I watched the hockey game before my son's game yesterday, I was kinda baffled at how some of the parents and grandparents acted and shouted in the stands. I know, there's been a million blogs just like this. I get it. And I also know that I've been guilty of such crimes in the past. Look, I want my kid to be an awesome player and score every time he/she hits the ice, but that's not going to happen.

SYOSSET, NY - OCTOBER 31:  Middle school players compete as Bethpage skates against Jericho at Iceworks on October 31, 2010 in Syosset, New York.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Last week, a kid on my son's team made a horrible play in our own zone that ended up in our net. A father down the way from me asked "What is he doing?". My response was "He's being a 13 year old boy." Kids make mistakes and learn from them. It was a mix up in our own zone and he knew right away that he screwed up. Being a hockey guy I can state with certain confidence that every goal ever scored is because someone made a mistake. If there were no mistakes, there wouldn't be any goals, touchdowns, make mistakes.

Full disclosure, I don't like to sit in the stands and watch the games because I hear the dumbest comments. People that have never played seem to be experts on what to do. I watch from the boards near the corners to stay out of earshot from said comments.

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - MARCH 06:  Kids players of the "Bolts" hockey team attend the Florida hockey day at the  Daytona Ice Arena on March 6, 2010 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images for NHL)
(Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images for NHL)

OK...a couple points when watching your kids play sports from my perspective....

  • To the dad that constantly yells "Hit em", who I then see walking out of the rink with a kid who's 8 inches smaller than the rest of the kids, give it a break. I get it that you don't know how to play and feel that your kid should rail everything in site. I also get that while you're smoking outside the rink between periods, your son is trying to figure out ways to leave the rink in one piece. You're not doing him any favors. Let him play the game.
  • To the parents that micro-manage the game from 15 feet above the ice level where it's easy to see plays, open ice....just stop. Little Johnny can't see things you can because he's in the middle of the play. Yelling "Skate to it", "Go get it", "Move your feet" and a slew of other directions are distracting and doesn't help him/her. I had to leave an area I was sitting in once because a dad by me shouted out orders throughout the entire game. Idiot!
  • To the parents that yell at the refs...knock it off. A game I was watching recently was pretty lopsided and parents were still chewing out the refs for the dumbest things. I'd love to go your job, or part-time weekend lowing paying gig, and bark at you when you do something wrong. I'm almost positive that ref is not trying to screw you kid's team. Are calls missed? Yes. Do they do it on purpose? No. Oh, and while I'm on it, don't be the ref in the stands shouting out every little petty penalty you see. I know that you're a referee somewhere when you're not watching Susie play. It's not your turn when you're in the stands. I love hearing moms yelling "That's a hook",  "Tripping" or whatever.
  • If you've never coached or volunteered to help out in any way, please refrain from coaching from the stands. In most cases the coaches are not getting paid, and invest a lot of their free time to helping young people become, not only good at their sport, but good people in the process. I started out coaching because I wanted to spend more time with my own kids. I've now coached for several years and I still enjoy that part of it, but I've really enjoyed helping other kids learn and love the game all while having a positive experience.
  • If you have a problem with what the coach is doing, tell them! As a coach, sometimes I don't know what your child may be going through because I'm not focused on them like you are. I've had parents tell me things that I hadn't realized were going on. I believe most coaches want it to be a great experience for the kids and your input, without going overboard, helps.
  • Focus more on the positives after the game. I'm very guilty of not doing this. Recently my son told me that the coach said to talk about the positive stuff afterwards. As a parent, I find it can sometimes be tough to balance that fine line of trying to squeeze out their full potential without making it sound like, to them, as negatively talking about the game.
  • They will get better. I've had parents tell me that they wished their kid could play as good as (name a great player on any team) to their kid becoming the best player over time. Some kids develop slower, differently, whatever. Let them play and have fun. I've seen some of the worst players come off the ice with the biggest smiles and visa-versa. Personally, I love to see effort. I don't care about goals and points, although that's a big part of the game. I want to see drive, the will to battle, getting knocked down and getting right back up. If you think about it, isn't that what life is all about?
  • Have fun watching your kids play. It doesn't last that long and it will be gone before you know it! I tell my wife all the time that someday we'll miss driving them to practice and watching their games. I firmly believe that team sports makes better people. In the workplace, the service, anywhere!
  • In closing, let them make mistakes. Let them learn. Let them make friends outside of school or the neighborhood. Let them win and let them lose. But most importantly let them be kids.