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Step away and let kids play

September 18, 2013 - Linda Lobeck
Starting at age five up until they graduated from college, both my sons played sports in which I was a spectator.

It’s been a joke with my husband and I that sometimes he was coaching (when he wasn’t actually a coach) from the bleachers or sidelines. There were many times during those years that he coached our sons in a variety of sports, but when they got older he assumed the position of spectator along with me.

My favorite saying to him when he’d get too involved in a games was ‘step back from the fence.’ This meant that he needed to let the coach deal with what was going on and not to yell directions to our sons from the sidelines. They usually ignored him when they got older and would give him a look if he was doing anything other than just watching them.

I think too much yelling and getting involved in sports when your kids are playing can be a bad thing. I’ve seen it all over the years, and it’s embarrassing to the kids to see a parent or grandparent yelling things at the refs or other players during an athletic event. A lot of people could keep the concept of ‘stepping away from the fence’ in mind when they attend sporting events.

I’m not saying you can’t cheer for your athlete or a team, but use some common sense. If you find your blood pressure rising and your voice rising too much, then step away from it.

I know it’s hard not to chime in when someone else is being rude or yelling at your kid unfairly — I’ve had moments when I haven’t been too proud of myself in that situation. But I always try and remember that I’m not the one competing and I’m there to cheer my kids on and their teammates.

It’s the same with coaching. There were many times I wasn’t real impressed by how my kids were treated in different sports they played by coaches, but as long as they wanted to play, I never got involved in it. I felt it was up to them if they wanted to put up with what was going on and to fight their own battles as a part of growing up.

Someday I hope to have the opportunity to support my grandchildren in their various athletic and team pursuits. And I will try and remember to let them play and ‘step away from the fence.’


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