A change of season Or When sportsmanship fails

Although I personally tend to think of seasons in terms of the Earth’s tilt, I am a realist and know that many folks see the seasons as things that have nothing to do with temperature and sunlight.  Seasons have to do with whichever sport is played.
We have just finished up our fall season, even though the leaves are at their peak and according to the calendar we are smack in the middle of it.  I watched my children succeed and I’ve watched them fail.  I’ve watched them try hard, try harder, and overcome tears in order to reach their personal goals.
I’ve watched them get mad and get angry and I’ve seen the fire in their eyes as they faced some of their competitors.
I will never say that my kids are perfect.  They are not.  They fight, they are mean, they stuff things under their bed and in their closets when they are supposed to be cleaning.  They wear the same socks and underwear for multiple days and lie to my face when I call them out on it. 
But they also know, deep down, how to be kind to others and to treat their peers with respect when the time is right, and they really know that if they don’t, and if their mother or father catches them being anything less, they will be rightfully punished.  And by punished, I mean they will be made to clean and reclean and do chores until Cinderella’s life looks like a spa vacation.
It is our goal as parents to teach our kids not to be jerks, whether at school, at home, or on the playing field.  We take it very seriously, which is why we take it very hard when we see other kids not following our basic guidelines for being a decent human being.  Even more so, when take it harder when we have parents sitting in the vicinity watching their kids being unkind and thinking that it’s perfectly OK. 
When your kid starts tossing insults at my kid during a simple soccer game, or steps on him when he’s down, that’s not acceptable in my book.  I don’t care who wins the game or not, I have to shake my head at what kind of person you are allowing to grow up in your own home.
I’m not ignorant, and I know these things happen in sports all the time.  But I think the fact that they are allowed and accepted has gotten really out of hand, especially when the field is full of ten-year-olds.  Even for kids, most of who are learning and trying their hardest, recreation is no longer recreation.  Games are not games, they are wins and losses.  And sport doesn’t always have the word ‘good’ attached to the front of it. 
Parents, and you know who you are, I hope you remember that as your calendar flips.

Originally written/published 10/19/14


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