On the sidelines with the agro-parents of the 21st century
I am the proud owner of a lacrosse team player, which is saying a lot considering how long I’ve tried to brainwash our daughter that watching TV doesn’t qualify as a sporting activity.At her age, I was a jock. I ran 10Ks, competed in high jump and 2-mile runs, rowed in regattas and beat the bounce out of more racquet balls than I care to remember. I fought hard against the tyranny that was high school sports guidelines to allow girls to play baseball (instated a year after I graduated) and football, even though I didn’t want to play.Despite all my efforts, my little girl is not exactly the competitive type. But you gotta love her spunk. She tried – and loves – tennis, which, with all respect to her, is highly amusing to watch as her gangling legs and arms windmill all over the court in an attempt to hit the ball.She’s into Nordic skiing, but would rather socialize along the trail than get out in front of the pack – even if we’re cheering along the sidelines in a race.She says she wants to play soccer, but her final determination is made not on how excited she is to partake, but who else is on the team – and if the boys team will be playing the same days and venues as her team.Granted, when I had a cross country meet in the rain and the trail turned to muck, I was the first to splash through the puddles. I love puddles. And the other girls did not. No matter how fiercely they were sticking to me in the race, I could make them back off, squealing, with one good puddle stomp.
But to an extent, I understand.As a kid, if I clipped someone in a hockey game, I would stop to make sure they were OK.If I struck a competing racquetball player in the back with a serve, I always apologized, even if I did it on purpose. If I bumped into another player on the basketball court, they got an “Oops! Sorry!” Then she took up lacrosse, a game that combines the brutal mentality of football and hockey and mixes it with a tad of class of soccer. And the fervor of the sidelines – read parents – is starting to rub off on her.So I was thrilled to go to her first organized, competitive game of her life in Jefferson County. I couldn’t wait to cheer her on from the sidelines, to compliment her on a good catch or boost her up after a flub. I would compare notes with the other parents. We parents would root for both sides, in the spirit of good sportsmanship.Well. Things have changed a lot since my brothers were in Little League baseball and the parents came roaring out of the bleachers every time they thought the ump made a bad call. How I long for the old days.
I was sitting on the sidelines trying to understand the rules of the game when a girl tossed the ball high in the air – into the lacrosse stick pocket of the other team.”What the hell?!” yelled a parent next to me, standing and waving her fist in the air. “That’s not what all that practice was for!”The girl who caught the ball ran down the field, twisting her stick to and fro to keep the other players away from the ball. She lunged at the goalie – and missed.”Oh, man!” screamed a parent farther down the line. “Aim! Aim!”Another girl ducked behind the goalie, grabbed the ball and deftly lobbed it into the net.”About time,” another parent mumbled.The game began anew.
“Take her out! Take her out! Clobber her!” yelled one parent as the long-legged middle schoolers ran back and forth on the field. The girl tripped another kid.”Hit her! Hit her! Hard!” another screeched. A girl sliced her stick across the face of her competitor.I was aghast, to say the least, and mentioned the behavior of the parents and their progeny to mine.”That’s nothing,” she said. “You should see what the boys get to do. They get to hit each other with their sticks. They get to trip each other. It’s not fair.”That’s Title IX for you. We fought hard for the right to play boys sports, and my daughter wants to join them in the brutal fray.She might have some competitiveness in her after all. I’m just not sure if I can keep up.Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 228, or email@example.com.
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