For the Win?


Last week, as I watched a 3rd/4th grade soccer game, I wished I could go back about twenty years to the me who wasn’t married to a sports fanatic and now the parent of a sports fanatic and a soccer/basketball/baseball player. Not that I don’t love the boys I live with. But the sports thing just stresses me out.

For now, I’ll leave aside the stress of living with the adult fan when his teams are losing. Or even when his teams are just playing. That’s a completely separate issue. Let’s talk about the young athlete instead.

Here’s the 100% truth: I do not care if his team wins the game. I do not care if he’s good at sports or not. If he never wanted to play another game, that would be fine with me. I’d make him play outside anyway, but I don’t need there to be a winner. I unapologetically wish there was no winning or losing.

BUT. The kid cares. He wants to play well. He wants to win. And he’s got my heart in his hands, so I want what he wants. This transforms me from someone who attends a sporting event primarily for the fresh air and snacks, to someone who watches with clenched fists and a stomachache.

I won’t lie: I don’t love it. I assume, based on the overwhelming popularity of sports both amateur and pro, that other people enjoy this feeling. Is that right? Do other people feel a little sick and like it?

The good news for me is that John cares about his own play and cares about the win, but he moves on pretty quickly. He doesn’t stew about it — a few minutes later he wants a snack and is on to the next thing. So I can move on pretty quickly, too.

I can’t help thinking about the number of years of organized sports John has left to play, and the number of Saturdays that I’ll spend this way. Maybe it gets easier, but maybe it gets worse? I shudder to think.

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