I will retire one day. Not today. Not soon. But one day.
I will give up my spot on the sidelines of the Maryville High School football team — a spot and a privilege that I will always cherish. It will be someone else’s turn. Someone younger. Someone just as qualified. Someone who will hopefully love it as much as I do.
And when I do, I’m not sure I’ll ever go back. For sure, I could never walk the sidelines with the team and the coaches. Whomever takes my place doesn’t need that. Too many years and too many relationships — I wouldn’t do that to my replacement. The last thing they would need is them thinking that I’m looking over their shoulder, judging whatever they are doing. I won’t do that. They will do fine and I hope will do a better job than I ever did.
I won’t sit in the stands either. I just don’t think I could listen to people yell at the players and the coaches. There probably isn’t enough bond money for me to do that.
I remember when my son was playing football in college. It’s probably the only time I consistently sat in the stands and watched a game of any kind. I’ve always been a part of whatever game I attended.
All the parents sit in the same section at college games. Obviously, those deciding such things know better than to put families with the fans. It was also one of the coolest things about having a son playing college football — we made lots of friends with other parents.
One time, there was this family sitting on one side of us and one of the family members said something about one of the players. That player’s family happened to be sitting on the other side of us. Now, keep in mind, this sort of thing doesn’t happen often. Families understand things.
Just when things between them started heating up, one of them got distracted and things went back to normal. Being in the middle of that mess told me pretty quickly that I didn’t want to sit in the stands very much, especially if I had a vested interest in the team on the field.
As for Maryville High football, for the rest of my life, this team and these coaches will be my family. So no, I won’t be able to sit in the stands and listen to people criticize them.
I just don’t get it. These are teenagers, and these coaches want nothing but the best for these kids. I remember hearing someone yell from the stands to George Quarles: “You need to pass more coach.” Really? You know more about calling the offense than GQ?
My least favorite is “BLOCK SOMEBODY!” Uh…I don’t think so. Block somebody on the other team, not just any somebody. That one hurts more as the parent of a lineman (and a former lineman myself) when it comes from the parents of a running back that just got tackled.
I wrote last week about yelling at referees and umpires. That column got a lot of comments on social media and a dozen or more emails in my box. Everyone had egregious examples of bad behavior by parents of young children. My son-in-law thought he might have to protect his 9-year-old son from the other team’s parents in a soccer game last weekend.
It’s beyond ridiculous. I had several people send me articles about youth sports leagues having to close down all across the country because they can’t get officials.
If you are a parent, support your son or daughter. Be their parent, not their coach. You do not know more about what is going on than their coaches. If you disagree with the officials, understand that they know that they don’t get everything right every time. If you think you can do better, great. They would love to have you.
But be kind. Be positive. At the end of the day, these kids aren’t going to be making their living playing sports. Let our children learn positive lessons from their sports.
Don’t teach them what they don’t want be like with their own children.