Sports crowds give child athletes something to see

May 04, 2007|by LISA PREJEAN

I've been sitting on the sidelines for about seven years now, watching my kids and their friends play various sports. I truly enjoy juvenile athletics, especially the joy on a child's face after a good performance.

With childhood obesity rates increasing at an alarming rate, we should all do our part to encourage children to play actively.

Most of us do, in our own way.

At any given sporting event, there is a wide variety of fans.

It's interesting to listen as comments are being made, whether they be spoken quietly or yelled loudly enough to hear across the field.

As I'm sitting there, I wonder what the children think about their fans' conduct. Perhaps they don't think about it at all, just merely accept it as the way things are.


It's tempting to categorize comments as they are being made. What people say in the heat of the game - and how they say it - reveals a lot about who they are.

Take for instance:

· Mr. Articulate - This fan cheers like he talks, which usually sounds like professor-speak. Instead of the typical, "Go for it, son!" you'll hear, "Capitalize on that, son!" from this fan. Go to this type of dad if you want help understanding the terms used by coaches. It might take Mr. Articulate awhile to answer your question, but you will have a greater understanding when he is done.

· The socialite - She's not really interested in the game, but everybody else in her house is going out, so she doesn't want to miss the opportunity. She'll cheer when everyone else cheers even though she's not sure what just happened. Her comments are typically generic: "Go Red!" "That's good teamwork!" Tap this mom to plan the end-of-the-season party.

· Eeyore - Here's a fan who thinks everyone is out to get his team (or his child). He'll bemoan the field condition, the position his child was assigned, the direction of the wind and the league-issued socks that won't stay up. Avoid sitting beside this type of fan.

· Mrs. Altruistic - This mom is hesitant to cheer for her own child but cheers loudly for all the other players. Go to her if you need an extra chair, blanket or umbrella. She'll gladly loan you one, even if she has to go without.

· The former cheerleader - This fan can't help herself. She has to cheer for both teams. After all, the kids are so cute and are trying so hard. Who can resist? Because she doesn't know the players on the other team, you'll hear her say, "Way to go, number 12 on red!" If parents from the other team leave something behind on the sidelines, the former cheerleader will find out who owns it and will return it to their home.

· The quiet one - You can tell by his body language that he's into the game, but you wonder why you never hear a peep out of him. Ask him to give the coach-appreciation comments at the end-of-season party. They will be brief but meaningful.

· Wannabe coach/wannabe ref - This fan has an idea of how the game should be played, and he's not afraid to let everyone know his ideas, such as they are. Don't ask this fan about the game. Talk about the weather.

· Clueless one - This one is easy to identify by the questions she asks. "Can you tell me again what offsides is?" Place her in a role that is not related to the game. Perhaps she could collect for the coach's gift.

· The nurturer - Her concern about all the players is evident. If a child gets hurt, she holds her breath until he is standing again. You'll hear her use terms of endearment for the children, "That's OK, hon!" "You'll do it next time, sweetie!" If your child gets a scrape during a game, go to this mom for the bandages and first-aid cream.

To Sherree: Thanks for adding to my fan list while we shared recess duty one day. It has been a great year in third grade.

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send e-mail to her at

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