Thursday, September 29, 2011

Average Parents

When you think of youth sports, what is the first thing that pops into your mind? Is it over-zealous soccer moms? Coaches yelling at kids? Dads barking from the sidelines?

Too often the stories about youth sports that appear on the Internet, via news, blogs orFacebook, are about the "politics"of the leagues, bad coaches or bad parents. Stories about fathers assaulting coaches, coaches being too tough on kids, rants about unfair leagues and the "politics" of selecting teams litter the Internet. I understand negative stories are what piques people interests, makes good copy, and sells click-through ad space. I also understand that these stories are the rarity to youth sports.

Every now and then a great heart-warming story about youth sports will go viral, like this one or this one, but again, these stories are rare. These are the extraordinary, positive stories that make good press.

Both the negative stories and the positive stories are the outliers to what is normal in youth sports. I really shouldn't limit this to just sports though. The same could be said for schools, teachers, clubs, and other group activities. We, who absorb the content of the media and Internet, are only really exposed to the extreme stories. We never hear of or read the average stories. I know, I know, "average" does not make good print.

Currently, I am on my fourth stint as a coach in a youth sports league.  I have to say that I have yet to see anything that fits into the extreme, good or bad, in any of my dealings. So far my experience has been average. Every practice or game I see average parents bring their average kids to an average team, to average coaches to play an average game. I watch as average volunteers take time out of their average days to work the average concession stand as other average parents rake and prepare average fields. I listen as average people cheer for average plays, as average coaches give average instructions.

When I stop to think about it I realize that it is the average that is truly exceptional. The average mom who makes sure her kid is at practice on time is doing an exceptional job. The average dad who cheers on another kid for making a play is setting an exceptional example. The average parent who offers rides to and from games for other kids is making exceptional sacrifices. The average parent who gets involved and stays involved, is building an exceptional foundation for their kid as well as others.

We remember to thank the coaches but we, or at least I, always forget to thank all the other exceptionally average people who make youth sports (or clubs) such an exceptional experience.
Photo courtesy of an average parent doing exceptional things
My wife Lauren said to me a while ago, "This is the time when our kids may be forming the bonds of life- long friendships. We need to make sure they are surrounded by the type of people, the type of kids, we want them be friends with 15 years from now."

I think it starts with the kid's parents. Right now my kids are surrounded by a lot of average people and I think it is exceptional.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am not sure I would have chosen Henry's Dad for you to be hanging out with 30 something years later

Meegs said...

This is a really beautiful post. I hope I can be exceptional in all my average endeavors.

Paula said...

Well said Bill. Thanks for sharing.

James (SeattleDad) said...

I'm just an average guy too. Well done on this one Bill.

Redneck Mommy said...

Just last night I had a long conversation with my daughter about why I married an AVERAGE guy and why I hoped she would do the same and why I hoped her brother would be an average guy.

Great post. And here's to all the average out there.

(Your word verification for this is SIR WANG. Consider that your new nickname from here on out.)

Anonymous said...

:)
I hope to be that average parent too.
(effie)

Anonymous said...

Never settle for a C when you can achieve an A. Be the Best you can be.....never settle for AVERAGE....You do all those people you talk of, a great injustice. You are are exceptional! Above average! I am sorry, that word average bothers me....never put yourself in such a category...average, mediocre,not exceptional,undisguished (American Heritage Dictionary definition) Never put yourself in that realm. This Mom didn't make any mediocre babies!!! ( God didn't make any mediocre babies) You are exceptional! I didn't say Perfect, but you are Exceptional.NEVER average! I am exceptional and so are my Kin....I feel so much better, now that I got that off my chest...guess it was just the choice of your words that got to me. A "C" is only acceptable, if you Can't do better. We can all do better, if you give it some thought. mommo9

Anonymous said...

undistiguished...sorry for the mispelling

Anonymous said...

undistinguished, got it right, this time...

Anonymous said...

I am Still Exceptional! a few spelling mistakes don't make me Average

eclectic said...

I like the concept that all of us "average" folk being exceptional actually elevates the status of "average" from mediocre to awesome. I like how you framed it, and I love that you think it. You're good peeps, Bill!

Daddy Geek Boy said...

Awesome post. You've got a smart wife there.

Anonymous said...

I know what blog jacking is, but what happens when a column is written after a comment (see Judith post first comment)

littlebluerambler said...

oh,my. i had a lousy morning with an old guys creaming at and scaring me in the dollar tree, then i come home and read both the highlighted stories. they were just so good to hear about tjhat i am crying, thank you bill.