Be a Fan

“Do you know what my favorite part of the game is? The opportunity to play.” ~Mike Singletary

With the waning of summer, and hopefully, some of this oppressive heat, comes the onset of a new school year. Target and Wal-Mart flyers are jammed between pages of the Brunswick News, advertising BACK TO SCHOOL DEALS! Parents on a mission for back-to-school gear are easy to spot. They’re clutching the teacher’s supply list, studying it intently like the instructions of an IKEA futon while randomly piling an assortment of pencils, papers, notebooks, pens, book bags, lunch boxes, water bottles, please-forgive-my-kid-cards, light up shoes, and probably, a pair of Wrangler jeans in a shopping cart. Every so often a mom will ask one of the listless children mulling around her legs if they would like an Avenger’s lunchbox to match their Ironman book bag. They roll their eyes because just being asked the question means that summer is now officially over.

When I was young, after shopping for school supplies, we would stop by the Recreation and Parks Department to sign me up for a sport. My mom really didn’t care what sport I played, however, the Sassers aren’t built for football. That left soccer and basketball. I was really really bad at basketball, and less bad in soccer. So I played a lot of soccer.

I never became a good soccer player. It was years and years before I figured out offsides—you can’t be nearer to the opponent’s goal than the second last opponent. Confusing, ain’t it?—but my mom didn’t sign me up for sports to hone my soccer skills. In her eyes, I was one of those kids that needed to run around to get tired, and she knew it helped my socialization skills.

Sports provide tremendous benefits for children, including:

  • Building character and social skills like teamwork, cooperation and leadership
  • Improving motor skills
  • Developing higher self-esteem
  • Honing the ability to handle winning and losing while being a good sport
  • Developing goal setting and discipline

Additionally, statistics show that children involved in sports while in high school are more likely to experience academic success and graduate from high school. Sports, in a nutshell, can prepare a child for life.

As a parent of four, I know how arduous it can be to sign up kids for a sport, getting them to practice, buying the equipment and taking them to games and tournaments. So for all the parents out there constantly juggling schedules to get their kid(s) to a sport, you deserve a pat on the back. I promise it teaches some great life lessons, they meet new friends, and they’re tired as draft horses when they get home.

For the rest of the people who read my blog but don’t have school-aged children and are wondering why the heck I wrote this blog…well, the title is for you: Be a Fan. If there’s one thing that athletes, parents and coaches appreciate more than anything, it’s support. It takes up a lot of free time to allow these kids to play, and that’s where children-free family members and friends can help.

Here are a few ideas:

  • If you’re a grandparent, aunt or uncle, help get the kids to practice. Sign up for a drop off or pick up from practice. Get them dinner and just listen. It’s great family bonding, and the parents will appreciate the time to refocus.
  • If you have a particular interest in a certain sport, consider coaching. The Recreation and Parks Department always needs coaches.
  • If you want to help support a particular sport, go to the local school’s websites (Glynn County Schools, Frederica Academy and St. Francis are a few) and email the coach about ways to help. Every team has its own specific booster club and would appreciate the donation of your time and effort. Many of the coaches pay out of their pocket for drinks and snacks.
  • It might be a tax write off! Many of the team booster clubs are set up as a 501c(3), so donating equipment to a kid in need or supplies to a team may be beneficial come Tax Day.
  • Be a Fan! Just go to a game. All athletes appreciate cheering fans in the stands. Though high school football is the big fall sport, anyone can attend other fall sports, including cross country, softball and volleyball. My kids loved when a grandparent or neighbor cheered them on at their soccer or little league baseball games.

One thing I’ve learned in my eighteen years of parenting is that it takes a village. My children have learned great lessons from coaches, assistant coaches, team managers and trainers who helped shape them into excellent young men. Helping out a team or a single athlete has the potential to help the community at present and shape the future as these kids become hard working adults.

I hope to see you in the stands.