• Allan Shedlin

Seasons of Good Cheer: Be the Supportive Fan Your Kids Need

By Scott Beller

Daddying Editor

"Dribble!...Pass!...Run faster!..."

"Why aren't you shooting?!"

"This isn't the team I saw play yesterday – let's go, girls, get it together!"

"NO – What are you DOING?!"

These are just a few of the negative gems I heard dropped loudly by some other teams' "joystick" parents at a recent travel soccer tournament while I waited for my daughter's team to warm up and take the field for the next game. I don't doubt those parents thought they were helping. I'm also certain they were absolutely not.

Postgame with my Firebolts, 2018

For the past seven years, when at a soccer game, I've usually been blessed to roam the opposite sideline – the players' side – as a coach. From that position, I couldn't hear what other parents were shouting at their (and sometimes my) players. Now in soccer coaching retirement, I miss having the privilege of being on the other side.

As I listened to rival moms bellowing unpleasant taunts at each other in the guise of "cheering" for their kids' teams, I wondered when did parents cheering for their kids turn into an exercise in controlling and berating them? What I heard that day wasn't cheering and it wasn't supportive. It was demeaning, dispiriting…and relentless.

And then I thought of my mother, Mary Barham, for very different reasons. That woman really knew how to cheer for her kids. The most important part of that previous sentence is the word “for.”

My mom always cheered loudly, which could be embarrassing, at times, but her words were always positive. Out on the pitcher's mound, I tried to block out her frequent bursts of encouragement like, "C'mon, Scotty, fire it in there!" or "Way to go!" or "No problem, let's get the next one!"

I pretended not to notice even though I heard her every time. Just as I suspect those soccer players heard their parents.