Opinion: Sour sports


I spend a great deal of time judging other parents.  I know it’s wrong but I can’t help myself.  Criticizing their decisions and actions makes me feel better about my own insecurities. My latest “issue” with certain moms and dads regards football. With all that is known about head injuries, I cannot understand why parents allow their boys to play, even at the pee wee level, and especially when there are less potentially-brain-damaging sports out there.  And the coaches are just as culpable. Forcing kids back on the field after sustaining hard hits, shooting them up with cortisone to mask the pain . . . I drooled over Dawson and Paul Walker (may his gorgeousness rest in peace) in Varsity Blues.  I know what happens in the locker room!

Anyway, the other day my husband Doo and I were discussing this very topic when my twins burst through the door, fresh from cross country.  My daughter launched right into a description of the acute pain she was experiencing in her right knee and her plans to talk to the trainer the following afternoon. This was my suggestion: “Wait until after your race to see the trainer. If you go tomorrow she’ll insist you sit out. You’ll miss the last meet of the season!”

Doo looked at me with a smirk and said, “You’re just as bad as those football parents.”

“This is different. She’s not actually hurt. She just has knee pain.” But even as the words were pouring from my mouth I realized he was right.  Oh my Lord! I was like those parents, maybe worse.  It’s not like her probable last-place finish was crucial to a JV team victory.

I wondered: How often have I openly expressed disapproval when one of my kids bails on a practice or game because of injury or sickness? Gasp!  The answer wasn’t just “frequently” but “usually.” And the few times I do manage to miraculously suppress my initial response, I’m still thinking to myself “Suck it up and get out there!”

What is wrong with me?  When I consider the situation rationally, I know the right call is to take my daughter seriously and encourage her to seek a professional’s advice and possible treatment. But my gut reaction firmly steers me in the opposite direction. Whether I learned it as an athlete growing up or in my brief stint in the military, somewhere along the way weakness of body became equated with weakness of person.  And that is simply unacceptable. Shame on me!

My sincere apologies then to the football parents I have badmouthed over the last year. It seems we all have some “issues” to work on.  Peace out.

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