Today I am excited and honored to share a post from a friend who has created an honest and humorous blog that looks at the world of youth sports from his perspective as dad and coach. I have known Steve Griffith for over 10 years. Steve runs his own successful public relations firm outside of Philadelphia.
Here was his first post, with many more to come:
Moms in Charge
One of the most consistently hysterical things about youth recreation sports is the way that the moms are in charge of just about everything. I’m not talking about just the snack bar and the volunteer fundraisers and the “Team Mom” communications.
I’m talking about the very essence of youth sports recreation – whether or not the kids are even there.
“How ya doing,” the photographer who took pictures at the basketball tournament Easter weekend said to me this week.
“I’m aggravated right now,” I offered candidly. “My wife won’t let my son go to his basketball game tonight because he’s overloaded with homework. I made a commitment to the coach and now he may be short of players, but there’s nothing I can do.”
“Oh, Lordy!” He exclaimed. “I’ve been there. Just do what they say. They’re in charge. You don’t know nothin’. Biggest thing is, if you do what they say, you won’t have to hear about it later.”
The previous week, I was asking another Dad if his son could play in an AAU basketball game the next weekend. This is a man’s man, a guy who coaches three sports with an appropriate authoritarian approach, who, you would guess, wears the pants in his family.
My question about his son’s availability drew a blank, uncomfortable, vulnerable stare. My first impression was that some outside force had rendered him speechless for some reason. Then, he blurted. “Oh, I don’t know anything about that. I have no idea. You’ll have to talk to my wife.”
His tone made it clear that he wanted me to take that last sentence literally. This guy, who may be a captain of industry at the office, was not going to be making any executive decisions here. He did not want to be in the middle of this one. He was clearly out of political capital with the real boss. He knew that I knew his wife and that was enough of an opening to get him out of this deal. He didn’t say “she’s in charge,” but he didn’t have to. He knew and I knew, because most dads are in the same boat, including me.
So this past fall, Mike wanted to play three sports. Football for his new middle school, fall baseball in the town league and rec league basketball for a team that I was coaching. With school underway and Mike engaging the challenging 7th grade curriculum, we knew it would be a tight squeeze schedule-wise, but the opening was there:
• Football practice and games were all after school on weekdays
• Basketball had no practices and games only on late Sunday afternoons or evenings
• Baseball was during daylight on the weekends
So we got started and the inevitable happened. Homework and tests were incessant and increasing and there were elaborate projects that required kids to work together outside of the classroom. The concept of learning a foreign language — Spanish — was something Mike did not take well to.
Something had to give and my wife, Kathi, was adamant. Our perfect attendance record at Mike’s games and practices was in serious jeopardy.
Wacky Youth Sports Dad that I am, I started doing whatever I could to make it work. Studying with Mike in the early mornings, going to the game sites 15 minutes before the start time instead of 45, taking over Mike’s responsibilities around the house – that was my new MO. I actually believed that I had stabilized the situation.
One week or so later, I get an email from Kathi around 4 p.m., after Mike arrived home from school and the daily ritual of reviewing homework and upcoming tests was complete.
Mike will not be able to go to football practice tomorrow and the Sunday basketball game is out. We’ll see if he can play baseball on Saturday. He has a project due on Monday and midterms are next week.
Of course, my answer to all of this is that proper time management would make everything doable, but that would mean no chatting or texting, no video games, no downtime in his room and no cuddle time with Mom. Knowing only too well that that wasn’t going to happen, my warped mind turned to another solution.
So I replied to Kathi’s email with deadpan matter-of-factness.
This academic stuff is really starting to get in the way of Mike’s sports schedule. Do you think we could drop a couple of classes?
About 90 seconds later, my cell phone rang and there was Kathi. And she was not laughing.
“How old are you? You’re supposed to support me in all of this. And it’s not funny.”
Of course, I was kidding. But it is a bit scary that the thought even entered my head.
I’ve been trying — unsuccessfully –to force it out ever since. ###
You can read more of Steve’s posts at wacky youth sports dad
*image from Premier Physical Therapy