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Staying Sober on the Sidelines

Like many sideline parents, I’ve seen the spiked hot chocolate being passed around on cold Fall days or the Pinot Grigio in the late Spring months, but I never really put 2 and 2 together.  Then, last week a new friend,  pointed out the obvious:  alcohol plays a major role in bad parent behavior at the fields.  Since she is an author who studies youth sports and alcohol abuse, I asked her to shed some light on the topic…
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Why Drinking at Your Child’s Youth Sporting Event is a Bad Idea
UnknownMy twin boys played football starting in second grade, and they had football careers that lasted all the way through five years of college at a DI school. I can tell you from personal experience that my twins got scholarships because my husband and I didn’t care so much if they did or not. We put the responsibility for their success or demise on them and told them we would be 100 percent supportive if they did their part. With that said, because I was a sport parent for so many years and also happen to have twenty-seven years of sobriety under my belt, I was then, and continue to be astounded by parent’s bad behaviors, and the way parents unwittingly sabotage their child’s success—all because they insist on drinking at their child’s sporting events.
The first parent to jump to their feet and scream at the referee and at their kid was always the one holding a red Solo cup or the one holding a mug of spiced cider. How do I know? Well, a lot of those people were friends and acquaintances, and one of them was, and still is my husband. I had to put the kibosh on his drinking at the games. It turned him into an awful spectator, the sort of person no one wanted to be around, including me. Parental drinking has no place in youth sports, but it’s become the norm. No matter what sport, what time of day, here come the coolers, Solo cups and thermoses—the adult beverages responsible for creating a whole new kind of havoc. Here are a few examples of how alcohol negatively impacts your child:
Your child sees and hears you holler. They want to please. They want to feel okay. Your alcohol rants are too much. They’d rather abandon the sport than endure your disapproval, so they quit or fake all sorts of ailments to keep them off of the field.
Your child sees and hears you arguing with the coach, but only after mom or dad has knocked back three beers. Your son or daughter comes to believe in your distorted perception—that they are the best one on the team and that they deserve to play—all the time. They start to blame the coach instead of working harder to better themselves, or accept that maybe their best gift is not in the current sport. Blamers rarely move up to collegiate sports.
The truth is that alcohol rants directed toward the coach, your child or other parents doesn’t translate into scholarships or happy kids.  My suggestion: Support your child, put the responsibility for their performance back on them, bring cocoa, coffee or water, and smile. No fuss. No tears. Pure Bliss.
Lisa Boucher, Mother of former twin DI athletes, Author of “Raising the Bottom” (Coming 6/17).
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January 25, 2017

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