It’s not if you win or lose…

…but how your parents behave on the sidelines.

Okay, I will confess. I am…a Soccer Mom. It couldn’t be helped – I married a guy who loves soccer. We got the extended sports package from our cable company so Josh could watch soccer all the time. We lived our life around the World Cup this summer, planned our move around it four years ago. Maura became the darling of a local Mexican restaurant when she saw the staff watching a game on the big tv in the bar area, shouted “Ball!” and sat down with them to cheer the game on. She also cried the first time she watched American football because they kept stopping the game. We have soccer cleats from a child’s size 9 to a men’s size 10 1/2. We have fourteen jerseys, 8 soccer balls, and several different pairs of cleats. The older three have all played on travel teams, Josh has coached, I know more about soccer than I ever could dream of fifteen years ago.

Sitting on cold windy fields for the past several years, I’ve watched kids play their hearts out only to lose, other teams play too rough, refs miss calls and make the right ones, lots of different coaching techniques, and how parents behave on the sidelines.

I’ve seen parents behave badly, yelling at kids, yelling at the coach…though none of them ever started a fist fight. But I notice a trend in our teams parents – we tend to keep it positive. Oh, we’re yelling at our kids as well, coaching from the sidelines – but we try to keep it positive. Okay, we’re not perfect – we’ve muttered about refs and other teams behaviors.

This morning, Sean’s team played two games (his and Mim’s teams are in a tournament this weekend). They’re not bad, but they can’t seem to score. But I watched them play hard, play well, and the parents around me stayed positive, telling them how well they were doing, cheering them on to the end. We even found compliments for the other team. (Seriously, how that one guy got a goal is still am impressive lucky fluke.) Between games, one mom went out and got them a treat. The parents cheered for everyone and kept it positive. I was proud to watch Sean give it his all, despite waking up at five am this morning and getting a leg cramp after the first game. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to see him score. I love hearing the other parents shout “Run Sean, RUN!” But I really enjoy watching him play well.

On the other side of the field, Miriam was playing. They lost yesterday but didn’t let it get them down. Today they went out and gave it their all. Our goalie in the first half was all over the ball, so much so that someone from the other team told us how awesome she was. Miriam is still learning how to play the game, but she’s got great potential – and speed I didn’t expect from those little legs. I know I should make her focus more, tell her to be more aggressive, but right now, she’s just enjoying it so much – she’ll get the others later. Her team played awesomely today, kept it at a tie, and fingers crossed, could make it to the finals. If that happens…well, some of us parents may have heart attacks from the stress of it all – in a good way. Of course, if that happens, I will also have to duct tape the mouths of Miriam’s brothers, who are worse about coaching from the sidelines than her parents.

I do think we’re very lucky here. Playing sports can be a positive experience for a child. The fact that positive vibes come from the people on the sidelines makes it a positive experience for me as well.

Mim at her first travel soccer game