By T.J. Grayson

This is what it’s come down to. Weeks of practice and workouts, weeks of physically breaking the boundaries of emotional stamina, weeks of building up to what can only be described as a true athlete. It’s all gone toward this moment.
The scoreboard lights up, the crowd takes their seats, and the game begins.
“Yeah, that’s my kid up to bat. He’s been playing for a few years now and was asked to be moved up to majors a couple of times. I guess you could say he’s pretty good.”
This is where the action takes place. Countless years of patiently sitting through relatives’ soccer, basketball, and baseball games demonstrates that the real competition cannot be found on clean-cut grass or shiny waxed courts where children release pent up adrenaline, but rather on the silver, metal stands where parents practice a skill every mother and father seems to anticipate using immediately after having a child: gloating. But to be honest, as much I enjoy supporting my family in random sporting events, I hate that aspect.
Too many times have I found myself looking over to the 40-year-old housewife sitting next to me with her overbearing sunglasses covering half of her face and pink visor supporting a tangled ponytail as she goes on and on about how great her kid is. And I can’t help ask, why?
Why spend your time boasting, gossiping, and complaining when your kids are just trying to have fun? Why turn a calm, Saturday afternoon baseball game into a pressure-filled nightmare? And if that’s your idea of a good time, why do you find the need to announce it to every spectator you come across?
The fact of the matter is, the tremendous athlete you are building up, the stupendous master of baseball, badminton, and everything in between that you keep talking about is a ten- year-old child. He’s not thinking about the five seconds more playing time the coach’s kid received, and he is not thinking about how embarrassing it would be if the neighbors saw him strike out.
The only thing running through that rambunctious kid’s mind is having a good time doing something he enjoys, and the minute you make that a petty parental competition, a part of their childhood is lost.
So I would like to address all of those loquacious parents who are overly enthusiastic and setting standards no prepubescent tyke wants to deal with. It’s great that you are showing an interest in your children and it is great that you want to see them succeed, but just let them play the game. Let them miss a couple of fly balls or pick dandelions in the outfield, because they’re only a kid once.