This one is for the parents.
Our local high school sports season is winding down. Most scholastic teams are done for another year. Only the very best are still playing, and most state championships will be decided in the upcoming week.
If you have a child who is still playing high school sports, your son or daughter must be playing at a very high level. Every spring we see kids who’ve already picked up their diplomas still reporting for practice, eagerly awaiting championship games.
Maybe your child is one of those lucky and gifted competitors. Or maybe they are done for the spring season and already involved in summer ball, AAU, Little League, Babe Ruth, Legion, or that wonderful thing we have come to know as summer hockey.
Whatever. It matters not whether we’re talking 18-year-old high school graduates or 8-year-old hockey mites.
The thing parents need to remember is that it’s about the kids. It’s not about the parents.
In brief: Try not to care about the game(s) more than your child cares.
Not easy, I know. We all do it. I did it. My kids have all been out of high school for more than 10 years, but I still remember what it felt like when one of them struck out in a tournament game. Or a Little League game.
Looking back, I wonder if I cared more than they did. If perhaps I remember more than they remember. I know I miss it madly, probably more than my three ex-ballplayers do.
It seems that parents at games today care more than ever. Perhaps it’s because there’s significant cash involved in grooming a young player to play at high levels of amateur/scholastic sports. Perhaps it’s because we still have some aging baby boomer parents (we always think it’s about us), plus a new generation of young parents, who always got trophies and were constantly told how special they were.
Perhaps it’s the nonsense promoted by coaches and leagues who convince parents that they can deliver the golden ticket of a college scholarship. I know a guy who knows a guy who heard a delusional coach telling a group of 10-year-old hockey players, “Only two or three of you will make it to the pros, so we have to keep our expectations in check.’’
Anyway, as you prepare for high school championship week, summer ball, or the start of training camps for fall sports in late August, here are some reminders for all of us:
1. Do not sit too close to the action. It’s nice to get there early and find a comfy spot, but you are not Jeremy Kapstein or Dennis Drinkwater. There’s really no need to have your nose pressed up against the chain-link fence directly behind home plate on the day your son or daughter is pitching.
2. Cameras are OK. But not every play. You are not Stan Grossfeld or Ken Burns.
3. No stopwatches or radar guns. You are not Dave Dombrowski.
4. The coach is the coach. Not you. You are the parent. Let the coaches do the coaching.
5. Loud, in-game advice is not helpful to your young athlete. When little Benny walks up to the plate, there is no need to yell, “Lay off the high ones, Benny!’’ Benny already knows this. You are not supporting him or showering him with love. You are putting pressure on him and potentially embarrassing him in front of his friends.
6. Do not make audible negative comments about any player on either team. Keep it to yourself. You never know who might be sitting nearby. This is not a Red Sox or Bruins game. These are kids playing sports for the love of the game. Hitting is hard. Throwing strikes is hard. Winning faceoffs is hard. They are all trying. So try to behave yourself.
7. Do not yell or complain about officiating. This is the job of your coach. There is almost nothing more annoying than hearing parents yelling, “Come on, Blue, call it both ways!’’ in the first inning of an amateur baseball game.
Trust me when I tell you that “Blue’’ does not give a hoot about your team or the other team. “Blue’’ just wants to make his 50 bucks and get home to his family. “Blue’’ does not have an agenda. You have the agenda. That’s your job. Grumble to your seat-mate. Take a pill. But do not yell at “Blue.’’
8. Do not pout if your child plays poorly. He/she is the child. You are the adult. No parental pouting in the car on the way home from the game. You are better than that.
Embrace the spirit of sportsmanship and competition. Frame these moments in your cerebral cloud and enjoy the games.
Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @dan_shaughnessy.