Tips For Adulthood: Five Signs You're Not A Sports Mom

Every Wednesday I offer tips for adulthood.

Last year about this time I wrote a post for Politics Daily called A Reluctant Soccer Mom. The occasion for that post was attending my first professional football (soccer) game over here in the U.K., and the begrudging recognition that I actually knew way more about the sport – (courtesy of my son) – than I’d ever imagined was possible.

But now I’m wondering if it’s time to rethink the label “soccer mom” for myself (which I use in the strictly sporty sense, BTW, not as a reference to an American electoral demographic.) And that’s because on Saturday, I attended my son’s first competitive football match on a club team. As I stood there amid all the other parents cheering on their boys in “The Hub” at Regent’s Park, I realized that perhaps I didn’t fit in quite so well after all.

To wit, here are five signs that you’re not a Sports Mom (or Dad):

1. You come to games in the wrong outfit. I’m not quite sure what came over me when I got dressed on Saturday morning but somehow I decided that getting ready for a football game on a potentially muddy field meant that I needed to come dressed as a farmer attending the first County Fair of the season. I dug out some overalls (dungarees) from Lord knows what era of my life, a pair of Wellies and a windbreaker. Yes, I did don a baseball cap which should have upped my sporty cred. But coupled with the jumbo-sized overalls, I at best looked like a painter (as one sports Dad friend observed with a chuckle.) We all know that if your kid plays sports, you yourself need to look sporty as well, wearing some combination of sweat pants, running tights, hoodie and the du rigueur visor. So instead of looking like this, I looked more like this. What on earth was I thinking?

2. You’re not really interested in the game. OK, it probably wasn’t a great sign of my inherent enthusiasm in the game that I brought along two International Herald Tribunes and one New Yorker just in case things got slow. As the match went on, I also found that other parents were conducting a running commentary alongside the coaches – yelling things that you only hear in British football like “Good tackle!” when someone blocks another player or “Unlucky!” when your team fails to score a goal. I, meanwhile, was absolutely mesmerized by the extent to which Hungarian does or does not resemble any of the other European languages. (Another mum was Hungarian.) Needless to say, she had to keep averting her eyes from me so that she could actually watch her son play the game. (Clearly I should have also brought this along to read.)

3. You cheer for the other team. At one point during the match, the other team scored its first goal. (We were already up by two at that point.) I instinctively clapped for them and yelled “Well done!” only to be greeted by a glare from another Dad. “What? You mean I can’t clap for the other side?” I asked, chiding him. “Clapping’s fine,” he retorted. “But you don’t need to say ‘Well done!'”

4. You secretly wish that your child was doing drama. Hey, what can I say? I was a drama geek all throughout elementary, junior high and high school. I think that drama is good for kids in precisely the way that sports are good for kids – it teaches teamwork and cooperation and instills a sense of identity and belonging. And yes, it goes without saying that I also watch Glee.

5. Your own best sports are indoor. By which I mean pool (billiards) and bowling. Nuff’ said.

Image: Jogging by Julie70 via Flickr under a Creative Commons license.

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  • Reply Sabrina

    September 15, 2010, 3:20 pm

    Thoroughly enjoyed this post. I am one of the talkers at my sons’ events (which to date have included roller hockey, ice hockey, tennis, baseball, soccer, cross country and…I’m drawing a blank. Fortunately, my husband is a sports fanatic and keeps me posted on particularly good plays and moves by our kids. And I’ve been fortunate that until high school (and even then in tennis), parents have been supportive of both teams. But if I don’t want to distract the other parents, I do a lot of sudoku and I’ll write on my alphasmart keyboard. Here’s hoping you find another parent who wants to talk as much as watch the match.

    Oh, and I loved being reminded of my son’s British soccer coach “Unlucky that!” is a favorite.

  • Reply Elizabeth

    September 15, 2010, 3:22 pm

    I am definitely not a soccer mom, or rather, I am also a reluctant sports mother. I do all of the above, except for #4 I usually wish they were doing music. Plus, I always bring something to read and sometimes my computer.

    Not worried about how my disinterest will affect the kids, though. My husband and his brother vividly remember their own mother doing crossword puzzles at hockey games. They even recount the time she went to the wrong game and cheered for someone she thought was her son (under the hockey helmet), while he waited for her in a dorm room. And all they do is laugh about it all.

  • Reply Jennifer Howze

    September 15, 2010, 6:01 pm

    I have a real fear of being an “fill-in-the-blank mom” – like I become a member of a giant faceless mob of mothers with no individuality. I also identify with your comment about wanting to be a different type of mum. If I had to be a something-mum, then I secretly wish I were a ballet mum (since I studied for a decade when I was young) or a tennis mum. Again with the identity thing.

    @Elizabeth – love the story of the mother going to the wrong game.

  • Reply Erin

    September 15, 2010, 9:13 pm

    My children are not playing sports yet but I attended a rugby game for my husband’s team several years ago in NY. He played for the old boys club (over 35). I went after work dressed in a killer Diane Von Furstenberg wrap dress, serious heels, cell phone and dark glasses. All the other wives, partners were in jeans and sweat shirts. They drank beer and didn’t cheer. I was popular with the players and all but ignored by the ladies. Which was fine with me. I never went again (too upsetting to see my husband squashed under a pile of beefy, middle aged+ men). I will dress appropriately when my children start sports – or not. Either way I still think I won’t care what the others think!

  • Reply Patricia

    September 16, 2010, 5:30 am

    I was a pretty good tennis mom, though everyone thought I was the tennis grandmother and how wonderful I came to all the matches and drove my kiddo all over the state. I did not dress the part, but I was determined to get this kiddo a scholarship to college – and she did, but then decided playing tennis is college would interfere with her studies – her first quarter she got a .9 gpa…the tennis team had tutors built into the system…oh well…

    I was also a drama mom for 2 kids and a music mom for 3 And I could never get the dress the part correct. I often ran the track during the practice sessions….so I looked sporty but way to sweaty…
    This was fun…sounds like a great match for you son

  • Reply Nicola Hulks

    September 16, 2010, 10:18 am

    Hilarious! I’ve just discovered your blog and it cvheered up my morning! I’ll be back (not to sound to Arnie or anything..!)

  • Reply Daryl Boylan

    September 16, 2010, 4:51 pm

    oh dear. . . clearly, it’s genetic.

  • Reply Rachel

    September 17, 2010, 11:33 am

    I’ve never had the nerve to bring reading material (but would love to-) – and I admit I have managed to learn next to nothing about any sport but baseball, which I played as a kid myself (still can’t actually pay attention thought – )

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