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Growth Spurts: Play Ball!

My husband and I played on a softball team this summer, and it was so much fun. My kids thought it was great, too, and they cheered us on with fervor! If the umpire made a bad call, our kids yelled at him, telling him what a terrible job he was doing. If they didn’t agree with something the other team did, my kids let them or their coach know about it. And if we lost the game, my kids started throwing their popcorn and peanuts–unless the loss was caused mainly by one of our players, in which case they’d just harass that one person, making sure it was understood who cost us the game. Yes, our children were true fans.

Now. If you’re still reading this, I’d like to tell you that the above paragraph is absolutely untrue. Well, except that we did play softball this summer (and have plenty of scrapes to show for it). But if our children had even acted like they were going to yell at the umpire, a player, or a coach, we would have swiftly headed to the bleachers to take care of the situation. I mean, how embarrassing would that be for us?! We were just out there to have fun!

Sound familiar? Let’s turn the tables now, shall we?

If you haven’t had the lovely experience of being around parents who take their children’s sports activities a little too, umm, seriously, then I invite you to browse YouTube for a bit. Go ahead. Type “Little League parents,” “crazy football parents,” or something similar in the search box, and you’ll find a plethora of examples of how not to behave at your child’s athletic event.

This appalling behavior by parents involves yelling at, throwing objects at, and even physically attacking players, coaches, and umpires or referees. Are you kidding me?! I thought the point of kids’ athletics was for them to have fun, work on their skills, and to learn how to be part of a team! Sportsmanship, I believe, is to be emphasized. And exemplified.

Certainly there will be missed calls, bad plays, lost games, and poor coaching decisions at some point during our children’s athletic careers. But is it really worth losing our self-control and embarrassing not only ourselves but also our children, their teams, and the other fans? Not to mention the fact that you just might end up on YouTube for everyone in the world to see. Over and over again.

Let’s keep the games fun! Let the coaches coach, the umps ump, and the players play. We’re there to be the fans, so let’s focus on cheering! The kids are more concerned about the snacks at the end of the game anyway. As Trey Watkins (my seven-year-old son’s baseball coach) says, “They can take away the game, but they can’t take away the concessions!” Thanks for helping us keep our perspective, Coach!


Carrie Bevell Partridge came out of a 17-year retirement from softball this summer. It might’ve shown. 

About The Author

Carrie Partridge

Carrie Bevell Partridge grew up in Memphis, TN with her parents and four siblings. She attended Mississippi College, where she met her husband Kevin. They have been married for 20 years and have five children. They live in Ridgeland, MS. Carrie has written the “Growth Spurts” column and managed social media for Parents & Kids Magazine since 2011. You can read more of her work at and

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