Monday, June 23, 2008

Magnet Mania

Surely you’ve seen all the magnets. Most minivans, SUV’s and now, thanks to gas prices, Toyota Prius’s in suburbia have one or more magnets advertising the sports the kids in the family play. I did a brief survey of my Super Target parking lot this weekend and got the following results (I included magnets and stickers):

11 soccer balls or soccer clubs
8 hockey
4 basketballs
7 swimteam
2 lacrosse
2 wrestling
3 footballs or football clubs
3 jump rope (Got Rope..cute)
5 ballet shoes magnets
1 gymnastics
1 wrestling
i saw 4 marathon (26.2 and 13.1) stickers, but i'm assuming/hoping!! those are for the adults not the kid

Why do we decorate our cars like this? Proudly displaying what our kids love? We know we are sneered at on the highway or in our workplace parking lot occasionally.

There are numerous reasons…first and foremost (in my house) it’s because my youngest loves them. First she was content with a generic magnet or sticker for the sport she was currently in (a soccer ball or a horseback rider decal). Now she’s a more competitive athlete, playing on a traveling soccer club team with a rival team across town; and thus a more competitive magnet displayer…..She wants to be sure everyone knows she plays for Northside FC and obviously not the clearly inferior Southside FC; I’m happy for her to have this Team Pride at this point, so I indulge.

Another reason…fundraising. Purchasing a 75 cent magnet for 10 bucks certainly does have a high profit margin for the HS team or the club, most of which desperately need it.

Finally, there’s parent pride…..most parents are happy to have a magnet with their sons HS football team and his name/number, we are showing we are proud of our kid. More than just showing everyone we are proud of our kid, we are showing our kid we are proud of him. In my mind it’s like wearing that hideous Fathers Day tie he made all day and not just out the door on that Monday morning.

I must admit, though, even I have a limit. My youngest is playing soccer on two teams, a lacrosse team and swimteam this summer and not surprisingly we’ve gotten new magnets for each. Four at a time is even too much for me, so I’ve had her give Dad two and me two for our respective cars. Anymore and they will be headed for the refrigerator. I’ve told that much magnetic force on one car could cause damage to the spark plugs and axels; so far she’s accepted that-------clearly I don’t have an Honor Roll bumper sticker on any of our cars :-(

Anyway….sports pride in the form of magnets is our version of the “Honor Roll kid” bumper stickers that we’ve seen around town for the last 15 years or so. So decorate you car with pride, don’t worry what your co-workers or neighbors think. Prevent unsightly magnet build-up and damage to the paint job by rotating every season or every time you change your clocks. To get a totally fresh start, run your car through one of those gas station car washes….the magnets go flying off and you have a naked car for a few weeks. I’ve done that more times than I can count, sometimes on purpose, sometimes not.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Answering your Questions !!

The most common (actually this is by far the most common question, in fact nearly the ONLY) type of question I get is below:

I’m moving to a new state and need to find the right Soccer program for my kids. How do I find the best ballet school in my area?
Where is a decent competitive gymnastics team in my new city?
Is there a fun, non-competitive basketball league in my area?
etc, etc.......

Conveniently, these are extremely easy questions to answer. As with everything else in life that is important….the INTERNET is the answer.

1. Type in Google search similar to this: soccer programs Houston TX. You will find quite a few different programs to do further research (both internet and telephone if you like)

2. Also try the small towns that are surrounding the large town in your searches. Mix up your searches: recreational soccer Houston TX, Sugar Land TX soccer clubs, soccer program in Houston, etc......

3. Check out each google hit and narrow down the places that look interesting, check out their website, give them a call.

4. Another thing I always do is check out the city’s (and each nearby small town that would be drive-able) Parks and Recreation department for the programs you are interested in.

5. Try the areas YMCA’s, they usually run lots of recreation level sports leagues. They all will have websites.

6. An excellent resource for the more specific questions is the website. It’s broken up into geographic areas of the country and you can post really specific questions. For example you can go to the Birmingham, AL forum, open up a new topic and ask: I’m moving to the area and my daughter is a level 7 gymnast, can you all please give me some recommendations? Also, you can ask this forum for opinions on some of the programs you found on your Google search. For example: “” I’m interested in having my son tryout for the Networks Basketball AAU Club, does anyone have any information or opinions on that program? “”

7. Check out the local High Schools athletic programs and their websites. You can give the varsity coach of the Softball team a call and ask her/his opinion of local club programs for your competitive softball play.

Good Luck!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Parents!--How to Behave on the Sidelines

This post could also be titled: How Not To Look Like an Ass on the Sidelines

These recommendations work for both recreation level sports and competitive level

1) Don’t heckle or dispute the ref any more than the usual throwing up of your hands and going WHAT?? Anything more and you embarrass your spouse, your kid and the other parents. You are just showing everyone that’s it’s not about the game or the kids, it’s about YOU and how much smarter YOU are than the ref.

2) Do NOT ever tell your kid or someone elses kid what to do during the game. This includes everything from detailed instructions on what do next to even yelling: “Run” or “Go”. The only instructions kids should hear are from the coaches or his teammates. Parents and other spectators trying to tell the player what to do is extremely confusing, and to be honest, you are probably not even telling them the correct thing. You should be cheering and only yelling positive stuff: Great Job!! Nice One!! Yeay!! Etc.

3) No critiquing the play of the players during the game. Even the slightest insult, like: “Oh…Cody should have passed to Brandon” will really piss off the parents of Cody; and make you look like a jerk (since there’s a 99% chance that Brandon is your kid)

4) No bragging about your own kid (out loud, or even to your spouse) during the game…you can gloat all you want in the car or at the office or to the grandparents. No one needs to hear how awesome your little Beckham Jr. is, they are also watching the same game and they think their Freddy Adu is the real superstar of the game.

5) Do not say anything negative about individual kids on the opposing team. Their parents can hear you and even if they can’t, how does it look for a 40 year old dad to insult a strange 12 year old to make his own kid look better, pretty pathetic, huh?

6) Don’t help the coach during the game unless he asks, although if you want to pick up trash after the game or put away the sports bench while he’s giving the kids the post game speech, it would probably be much appreciated.

7) Try not to cheer (or laugh) when the other team screws up. Nothing looks worse (or could really hurt a child) than you cheering when someone drops an easy fly so your son makes it to first base.

8) Don’t run out on the field if your kid gets hurt. I know it’s your first instinct, but it’s a big no-no. If it’s serious, you can meet him back at the bench when the coach carries him over.

How to be a GREAT sideline parent: do the complete opposite of the above. Your child will appreciate it. By just quietly watching the game, cheering good plays and appreciating the entire game, not just your childs achievements, you will enhance it for everyone. After the game tell your child how great s/he was and ask if s/he had fun. Nothing more. No suggestions, no asking about specific plays (unless it’s real positive like: “wow, I bet that homerun you hit felt great, huh?”). Let him know by your comments he’s awesome in your eyes no matter what.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Dad Coaches (or Wannabees) are great!!! To a point

Okay….being a coach of your childs sports team has been a dream you’ve had since before you even had kids, go ahead admit it. Totally healthy. It’s a great way to bond with your child, share something you love and get to spend lots of time together doing something you love. From age 6 to about 9 at a rec level, it’s fantastic for you, him, your family, etc. Also, most recreational leagues are run by volunteers and coaches are sorely needed and valued. Beyond that (into competitive levels) it can be successfully done, but it’s rare. The above are all the positives, but I’d like to focus on the negatives and the common problems so you can recognize them in yourself if necessary.


-Don’t favor your child. At all. For any reason. Duh.
-Don’t be harder on your child than the other players.
-Equal playing time, no matter how much better your child is than everyone elses. You almost have to bend over backwards or err on the side of less time for your child, the other parents are all counting the minutes, really.
-Don’t put up with whining from your child
-Discuss with her/him before the season starts that s/he must treat you like a coach, not a dad. Of course s/he can still call you dad at practice
-If you notice your child not listening and treating you they way he treats you at home, he may not be ready for his dad to coach and truly benefit from another coach.
-If you want to coach because your child is whiny, high maintenance, hard to control, etc and you think yourself being the coach will help, please think again…it’s always worse.
-At the banquet, when you are giving out trophies, please don’t say, when calling up your son, “And now, My favorite Fighting Cougar player: Connor”. I know you think it’s adorable and cute and super special for your son, but it sucks for the other twelve 7 year olds, who truly think they are your favorite (and the best player on the team). I can’t tell you how many times this has been done in my experience and it usually sucks the fun out of the party room at Pizza Hut… I swear. He already knows he’s your favorite and you can tell him in the car if you want to make sure.
-Sometimes at young ages, your child only wants to play soccer/t-ball, etc if you will coach, and this situation can have 2 outcomes: a) you introduce her to a great sport which she soon loves with a passion and that she would have missed out on if you hadn’t coached, or b) she didn’t really want to play soccer, just hang out more with you, and she becomes clingy and annoying at practices and games and it has a negative effect on the team. Only you can figure out which your situation will be.


-All of the above 8 tips, of course, and
-Coaching your own child’s team at this level is much harder to do, in fact at the highest levels (classic soccer, AAU basketball, competitive gymnastics, etc) you can’t, due to rules and coaching requirements.
-At this level, you may be asked by the professional coach to assist him. That is a great honor, but know your place. It’s to ASSIST.
-Understand that there is a very big chance that your child would benefit from learning soccer from a professional with more experience coaching
-If your child is a gifted athlete, consider that by keeping him on your team (say a mid level competitive league or team) instead of encouraging him to tryout for the Elite level (whatever that is in your particular sport), is very selfish.
-Even though he says he wants you to continue to be his coach, you may need to put your foot down and explain it might be better at this point to see baseball from a new perspective. You can still show him all your tricks and super moves in the backyard later.