Sports Love & family

Learning Life's Lessons through Sports


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Dealing with a Loss

This week our family is dealing with loss. No, not a loss on the field, loss of life. We had to come to the very difficult decision to put our nearly 16 year old spaniel-pointer to sleep forever. She was the final part of our lives that came before our children. This isn’t the first time we’ve had to do this as a family, but the last time we only had two children and they were both babies. Our kids are old enough now to understand and share in our emotions.

Why am I sharing something so personal with you? Mostly because writing helps, but more importantly this blog is called Sports, Love & Family. The loss of this dog has everything to do with Love & Family. And as cheeky as it may seem, we can always bring what happens in our lives back to sports.

A dog is a family companion, they are always there for you, no matter what. They love you unconditionally, good day or bad day. And this made me realize, it’s much like what us parents are for our little athletes. Our kids rely on us to be there for them good game or bad game. Always cheering them on from the stands. One day our little athletes won’t be little athletes any more. They won’t need us to truck them all over the state. They won’t need us to wash their dirty, stinky uniforms. They won’t need us to carry their equipment, because it’s too heavy. They won’t need us to cheer them along in every situation. They will grow up and no longer need us as much. This realization hurts, much like losing a family pet.

So, I’m going to tell you what lots of people preach in this digital-age. Be in the moment. Be in the moment when your child is on that field or on the court. Be present. Be present for them, even if it’s the last thing you want to do in that very moment. My daughter just tested me on this. Much like Mama, she’s a writer. She wrote about her experience that day we had to say goodbye to our dog. She wanted me to listen to it. Emotionally I knew I couldn’t handle it, but I also knew this was part of her grieving process. So, I put my phone down, and my emotions aside and let her read me her account of that day.  It was so hard, but she was so happy to share it with me.

I’m vowing to be more present for my family. To enjoy all the moments, good and not so good. One thing being a sport-parent has taught me is that my kids want me to see them doing what they love. Whether it’s a good game or bad game, they want me there. I’m like the family dog, I’m always there for them no matter what.


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The Umpire Shoved Who!?

It took me all last week to try and write this blog. I didn’t know how to start or what angle to take. Then it hit me in the shower (like most of my posts do), questioning, why don’t people like to be questioned? Well, I know the answer to that, I guess the question is why can’t people now-a-days handle being questioned? Are we that insecure as a society that we can’t handle someone challenging us?

I’m questioned or challenged by my superiors at work daily. I know there was a time in my life (probably my twenties) where that made me uncomfortable. Now, in my late thirties in a career I feel confident in, I don’t mind. I stand my ground, push back if need be, or give in, if that’s best for the situation too. Know why this is? Because I’m mature enough to handle these situations. I know what I know, but I’m not always right and I can work well with others. Why am I telling you all this!? Stay with me, I’m getting there and of course sports and life lessons are involved!

We had a situation at a baseball game that got out of control. After numerous innings of the srtike zone apparently growing, our coach finally decided to say something. He “questioned” the strike zone. Immediately the umpire got defensive. He took the conversation to a different level. He didn’t like that our coach “questioned” the way he was doing his job. I’ve seen this before in sports, umpires or referees that don’t like being undermined. We’re not condoning confrontations with officials, but what we are advocating for is the ability to have a conversation with said official in an adult manner.

Officials are human beings and we all make mistakes and we all use our judgement to the best of our abilities. With that said, when a coach decides to “question” an official they should be mature enough to have an adult conversation about the issue at hand (this goes for both parties).

The situation we were part of was far from a mature conversation. The home plate umpire was not interested in having a civil conversation. He went straight to beligerent and kicked out our coach. After resuming the game he walked over to two of our coaches that were having a conversation in the dugout and proceeded to kick them out, based on what he thought they were discussing. The first base umpire had had enough and decided to intervene and the two umpires had “words” with each other. The home plate umpire called the game and the first base umpire disagreed and told him so. After a physical altercation between the umps, the first base umpire went to his car to get his gear to continue the game. Coaches from both sides agreed to end the game. When the first base umpire came back another altercation between the two happened again. With coaches seperating them and escorting them to the parking lot the situation ended. It was one of the strangest games I’ve ever witnessed!

So, to conclude, this entire situation could’ve been avoided if the umpire were able to have an adult conversation about the events happening during the course of the game. We as a society need to be able to have constructive, uncomfortable conversations. Once we all can do that, I’m betting some pretty amazing things can happen!


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Don’t Take Your Negativity Public

The internet is an awesome, amazing and scary thing. Having information at your fingertips is great, but what some people do on the internet is not cool. I’m not talking about inappropriate content (that’s for someone else’s blog). I’m talking about using the internet to spout negativity or bad-mouth people or things (hence the reason we created this blog). It was brought to our attention recently that someone was bad-mouthing a sports organization our kids belong to.

Let me be clear, I don’t deny having bad experiences in some organizations. Our sport experience hasn’t always been sunshine and roses. But, one thing I’ve never done is use the web to tell everyone how terrible the organization is and how they wronged my child. What good comes of that?

Of course I was sad and hurt to see the things they said about the organization, my kid has had a great experience. But, I also understand each experience is different, depending on the child and the parents. No organization is going to please every family, it’s just a reality. How you handle how you are/were treated is up to you. However, in my opinion, the mature way to handle how you feel is not blabbing to all your friends or taking to the internet. Our culture is driven by negativity, people feed on drama (that’s why reality shows have taken over the tube).

I’m charging all our followers to be the change. Our family has changed our outlook and created this blog for the shear purpose of spreading posivity. When you’re faced with a difficult situation and your instinct is to jump on social media and vent in a negative way, I emplore you to stop and think about it. Anyone who knows me, knows this is a tactic I use regularly. I’m very reactionary, so, if I’m angry I can say or do things I will for sure regret later (thankfully, I married someone who balances me and helps me with this).

We teach our children that what they post could affect the rest of their lives (ie, college acceptance, job search), but many adults don’t follow the same rules. Parents need to look inside themselves and practice what they preach. Feel free to show your emotions, discuss with close friends and family, but leave it there. Don’t go all over town talking negatively and don’t post it all over social media. Let’s all lead our children by being good examples ourselves.


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Do You Micro Manage?

Do you like to be micro-managed? Well, I certainly don’t! And I’m pretty sure our kids don’t either. I had a situation where I was being micro-managed. It made me feel like the person didn’t trust me and they felt the need to “watch over” me. Is this what many of us are doing to our kids? I get it, I get it, I know it’s sometimes easier, but we are ruining our children by doing everything for them, or by watching every little thing they do!

Oh, trust me, I don’t have all the answers to this one. But, I do know how I felt when it happened to me, and it made me think; “Is this what I do to my kids?” A micro manager by definition is a boss or manager who gives excessive supervision to employees. A micro manager, rather than telling an employee what task needs to be accomplished and by when, will watch the employee’s actions closely and provide frequent criticism of the employee’s work and processes (this is from investopedia.com, but for a more accurate depiction, check out the urban dictionary’s definition, ha, ha). But, I digress, is this what our generation is doing to our children!? Do we give excessive supervision to our kids? Do we not tell them what to do, but instead watch them closely and criticize?

I know, I for one, don’t allow my children to do things that I was freely allowed to do at their ages. My excuse always is, “the world is a different place”, but is this really true? I do agree things are different and there’s been more research done to prove certain things (ie, carseat safety, etc.), but are we making our children incapable to do things on their own? In our house we always talk about problem solving. Our kids are really not good at it, is our fault because we micro manage most of their life?

I’m not writing this to give you answers, because, clearly I don’t have them and this situation got me thinking. I’m hoping this gets you thinking too. It is important to allow our kids to do things for themselves, make mistakes and learn from them while still keeping them safe. Letting them do this in long run will only help them achieve success.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on this and how your handling micro managing in your house. Leave us a comment below.


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They’re Watching

Pretend you’re somewhere between 8-12 years old. Who do you look up to? Maybe a professional athlete or super hero? Now, picture yourself as a high school kid? You’re probably wrapped up in thoughts of yourself and what the new cool thing to do is.

Not all high schoolers are like that. Some are selfless and kind and are just great human beings. We are blessed to know a few of these kids. We mostly know them through baseball and other sports our kids play. These are the kids who come spend time with the 8-12 year olds. These are the kids that understand what its like to look up to older kids. They take the time to say hello or give a high five.

Yes, my kids idolize professional athletes, but they also look at high school athletes like they are celebrities too. If you’re a parent of a high schooler, remind your child that someone looks up to them. Remind them that their actions are not only being scrutinized by their peers but by those little ones that see them in the neighborhood or on the ballfield. Remind them that they too were young once and looked up to a high school kid. If just one high school kid can give a moment of their time to a younger kid, I think it could have a huge impact on the future. Making positive connections with others in life can be so important.

It’s one thing for us parents to teach our children life lessons, but it’s an absolute game changer if that life lesson is taught by an older kid.


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Save the Drama for Someone Else’s Mama

WARNING! Rant ahead…

High school ended 20 years ago for me, however sometimes being involved in youth sports makes me feel like I’m right back there. I’m not talking about the “passion” that parents have when their kids are involved. I’m referring to the unnecessary “noise” that some parents partake in. In high school I never really understood it, but I knew teenagers were immature. In my adulthood, I have an even harder time grasping the concept. I don’t understand what has ever come of talking about people or situations to other people (the one’s not involved). It’s called gossip; the actual definition is casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details that are not confirmed as being true. This is constantly happening in the bleachers, in restaurants, on the streets, everywhere, and it needs to stop. What kind of example are we to our children by continuing this trend?

What’s got me so worked up?

I was recently approached by a parent whom wanted to confront me on rumors they had heard. While I appreciate being confronted so they could hear the truth, I’m saddened by this turn of events. I’m sad this person believed what they had been told. I can’t help the things people make up or say about other people, but I can control my own actions and be true to myself. I was also angry with those other people and the untrue messages they were putting out there. The messages were put out with the sole intent of creating drama. I try and steer clear of it, but on almost every team there’s one or two people who love the drama. If you’re one of these people, you need to stop. You need to find something better to do with your time other than gossiping about people you know.

How do we fix this?

It’s like bullying. We talk to our kids about how to handle bullies. Adults need to do the same thing. The way to quell this is to not participate in it. If you do get caught in it, seek out the truth (like this parent did) but let it end there.


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Winning isn’t Everything

I have three kids that play sports, so inevitably I can’t always be at every game. Though, this kills me, its virtually impossible to be everywhere. So, after a game I wasn’t at, I usually ask the kids how it went.

Our first instinct is to ask “Did you win?” As parents we need to reset this expectation. Asking an innocent question like that puts too much emphasis on the wins and losses. We need to remember what the goal is, player development, learning the sport and having fun. Asking more specific questions such as “What did you learn today?” “Did you work on [fill in skill here] today?” Or even asking more vague questions like “Did you work hard today?” “How did it go today?” “Did you have fun?” can change the expectation that winning is all we care about.

If we change the way we have the conversation then we’ll start changing the expectation. Learning life’s lessons through sports doesn’t always have to be through wins and losses.


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I Can’t Stand Pouters…

I can’t stand pouters. There is nothing that eerks me more. And unfortunately, I am raising at least two pouters (jury is still out on number 3). Don’t get me wrong, I have three good kids. They are kind, they are good friends and they are most always polite. Those are qualities I am so proud they have.

First, let me say my kids are not mean-spirited and never do anything with ill will toward anyone. That’s not who they are. They are competitive little beings. Like, competitive to a fault. For instance, this basketball season our oldest was on a losing team (I wrote about it here). We saw the disappointment written all over his face when the team started getting down by 5, 10, or even more. His body language and attitude shifted…and not for the better. What we would’ve like to see and what we preached to him after the game was to take that frustration and play harder. The only game you can control is yours, and you are only 1/5 of the team on the floor. We always said these things in the end, but they fell on deaf ears.

On the other hand, my daughter was on a winning team and she herself was having much success on the court. But, still, many games we had to talk to her about her body language and attitude. She was always disappointed in her play or she always picked one negative thing that happened to her and focused on that. No matter how much we told her she did great or that we were proud of her.

I tell you this, because we are not perfect parents, even though we try to preach about raising kids in this sports life we live. We are trying and doing the best we can. However, there are just somethings we can’t contend with, and one of them is DNA. You see, competitiveness runs strong in our family’s blood (Todd and I compete with each other constantly). And while it’s a great attribute, many of us have a hard time channeling it in a positive way.

We are constantly preaching to our children, if something’s not going your way on the field or court, use that energy in a positive way. Cheer on your teammates, pick each other up, play harder. Many kids, mine included have trouble breaking out of that mental slump. It’s hard when you’re a competitor and you’re losing or the game isn’t going the way you want it to, to use that negative and make it positive energy. I know a lot of adults who can’t do that let alone young athletes.

You can rest assured that Todd and I will continue to work on this with our children and if we come up with some great way that we somehow got through to our kids, we’ll share it here first. And, if someone out there has figured this out with their kids already, please share with us because inquiring minds want to know!


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Ask Yourself, Can You Commit?

So your kid wants to try out for the [insert sport here] travel team? Is your family ready for the commitment? Do you have what it takes? Does your kid have what it takes? This is something at Sports, Love & Family we feel very strongly about. It’s one of the strongest life lessons we’re teaching our kids.

Before you jump on the travel team band wagon there are some things you should ask yourself and your child. First, are you as a parent ready for this commitment? If you are not willing to drive your child all over the county for practices or games…you are not ready. If your social calendar is booked every weekend…you are not ready. If you don’t enjoy spending hours watching sporting events…you are not ready. If you purchased a vehicle based on seating availabilty and trunk capacity…you are ready. If you seek out sport events even if you don’t know any players…you are ready. If you are not ready for this type of commitment then there’s no point of asking your child if they’re ready. It begins with you. If you can’t give it your all, then don’t bother. The goal is to be an example to your child and if you can’t fully commit, then don’t do it.

Once you know you can commit, now you need to discuss what the commitment looks like with your child. Make sure you’re being honest with your child when you talk to them. Let them know how often practices are, how long and far away game days may be. Let them know how long the season is and if it interferes with other sports or activities they like to do. Because, parents, let’s face it, this is their first commitment they will make and how you handle this sets the stage for later in life.

At Sports, Love & Family we are fully committed.