Parents, if ever there was a time to ease up on the sideline, it's now
I think we can all agree: It's been a long week. A long month. A long year.
Obfuscation. Name-calling. Divisiveness. Anger.
Wait: I'm talking about the sidelines of your kid's sports events. What are you thinking of?
My favorite campaign ad of the year reflects a sentiment that I think we can all get behind:
"Dare to chill."
Kudos to the Colorado chapter of the Positive Coaching Alliance for producing a pithy, hilarious and -- yes -- personally resonant spot that cuts to the heart of youth sports today.
All parents have been there in some form or another: You openly gripe about the reffing. (Or worse: Other kids!) You shout out instructions to your kid on the court from the bleachers. (Or worse: Other kids!) You undermine the coach with chatter on the ride home that focuses on playing time or stats or strategies. (Or worse: Other kids!)
What makes "Dare to Chill" (or, if you're on social media, #DareToChill) so poignant is that it indeed feels like a "dare" to suppress your well-intentioned (if inappropriate) inclinations to externalize your anxieties about your kids, your hopes and dreams or maybe even your view of the state of the world, in the form of unconstructive weekend chirping from the bleachers or sidelines.
The easy thing to do is to give in to your impulse to shout out anything beyond "Great effort!" or "Wow, do I love to watch you play!" Your hard-earned high school varsity letter or extensive hours logged watching pros play on TV in whatever-sport-your-young-kid-now-plays totally qualifies you as an expert -- I encourage you to volunteer to coach a rec-league team made up of kids from your local grade-school or neighborhood!
But if you're not the coach, the best thing you can do for your kid is just ... to chill.
Here is your challenge for the next two weeks, and it dovetails nicely with the zeitgeisty "Mannequin Challenge" that everyone's obsessing over right now:
Pick one of your kid's games this weekend and do your best "mannequin" impression: Sit quietly. No yelling. No physical histrionics. Oh, sure, you can clap and cheer. You can shout "Good hustle!" or "Way to work hard!" But otherwise? Ignore every impulse you have to say anything else, from the moment your kid starts to collect gear from the closet to the car ride over to the field/gym to the warm-ups to the game itself to after the game (be sure they thank the coach and refs!) to the ride home. Say nothing except "So fun to watch you play!"
If the kid wants to obsess over the outcome without your prompting, fine. You don't need to pile on. If -- more likely -- they want to leave it behind and dive back into Xbox or college football or whatever: Fine. Let it go. Dare to chill. See what happens next.
Dan Shanoff writes about parenting for espnW. You can connect with him on Twitter at @danshanoff or follow his own struggles with chilling out on Instagram at @danshanoff.