Don’t be that dad at the ball game

Be there with your kids, but don't live through them.

Don’t be that dad at the ball game

Don’t be that dad at the ball game 1024 768 Looking out Loud

This is 60-second Dadspeak—daily reflections on becoming a dad, while still growing up myself. You can find the full mini-pod audio list here.


Today my third-grader had a basketball game. It’s a league for third-, fourth-, and fifth-graders. So these are kids from 8-11 years-old.

During the game, one dad stood up, threw up his arms and yelled, “What the hell ref! Open your eyes, that’s a travel!”

Later on, he hollered at his own kid out on the court, “Come on, set that screen! You gotta be there!”

I saw a granddad yelling at the refs too, making sure everyone heard his insights. And probably thinking that the people around him were impressed with his keen awareness of the game.

Did I mention these are elementary school kids?

Now, I admit that I’m not the most competitive or sports-oriented dad. But seriously, what is it that causes a dad to care so vocally about the treatment of their third-grade basketball star?

Sure, all parents want to see their kids do well, and all parents love to see their kids win. But here’s what I see.

I see a dad living through his son. I see someone who’s concerned, perhaps subconsciously, that his child’s success reflects his own parenting and sports acumen. Something he cares a lot about around his buddies.

But a third-grade basketball game has nothing to do with you, dad. It’s about kids learning the rules, learning to be part of a team, learning the discipline to show up, and developing the desire to improve.

As parents, we should be there at the game, cheering and proud and hoping for victory (or at least hoping our kid doesn’t trip over their own shoelaces).

But let your kids live their lives without your interference from the frontlines. This only teaches them that daddy will be there to defend them, and that daddy doesn’t think they can do it on their own. Plus, it embarrasses them, and makes you look like a jackass.

Us parents are still growing up ourselves, and sometimes we project our own paths and struggles onto our kids.

But be there with your kids, don’t live through them. You sports buddies will still accept you at game night.



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