This weekend is our last football game of the season. My husband coached the defense, our son played, and the girls cheered. It has been a trying season. It was a very successful season athletically, but there were some hard lessons learned.
Many of the adults my children saw weekly this season did not act in a manner we would like our kids to imitate. Some parents from my son’s team yelled negative comments to the coaches from the bleachers because they didn’t like the plays called; they heckled the referees; they yelled at the players on their own sons’ team in a far less than encouraging way; and even a few yelled at the other team in a demeaning manner.
When did it become acceptable for adults to belittle children and act as though people who give personal time to invest in the lives of youth don’t deserve respect?
Football pads may protect players from the blows of their peers. They do not, however, protect these pre-teen boys from the damage of disrespectful and less than honorable behavior.
We have had many discussions after games about proper attitudes and behaviors in order to undo the hits respect and dignity took on the field during the game.
It has been hard for our children to understand that not all adults act the way they should. My little girls cheered on the sidelines while parents stood in front of them yelling inappropriately about the game.
All three kids watched as a full grown woman yelled at my husband about how she would hurt a little boy on the other team if she didn’t like the way he tackled her son. It was not a good experience. Although, they did get to see their father model how to keep your composure around irrational behavior.
We have a strong sweet boy, who we have always encouraged to listen to and respect adults. We have also taught him to stand up for those who are being bullied. Little did we know, these lessons would put him in a tough place this season.
Our most recent game was the worst yet. A player on the other team was playing a clean game while wearing a soft cast. Parents began yelling about how he needed to be removed because his cast hit their players. This escalated, and unfortunately, one of our players was injured by the player with the soft cast.
My son had heard again and again from adults yelling that it was caused by the unfair play of the boy in the soft cast on the other team. When it was time to shake hands at the end, he felt the need to stand up for his teammate. His adrenaline was up from the game, and adults were yelling. He went after the boy. He was stopped before he could fight.
We were still extremely upset with him, and he was unhappy with the consequences of his actions.
Our son learned his hardest lesson that day. You can’t always trust what the crowd is saying, even if it is a crowd full of people you have always been taught to trust, respect, and obey.
The hard, but vital, lesson learned from it all: listen to the Holy Spirit in your heart, not the volume of the crowd around you.
I did not love the way this season went, but I am grateful my children were able to experience this with us present to guide them through it.