Dear Fans in the Stands,
First of all, I appreciate you. Seriously. Games wouldn’t be the same without you there. It would be ominously quiet without you in the bleachers cheering and supporting the team we both love so much. We are both wanting the same outcome: a WIN. And I’m very aware that some seasons those are more elusive than others. Very. Aware.
But here’s the thing. I’m friends with a lot of coaching families, and I’ve heard a lot of stories this season.
Stories about fans who’ve yelled such awful things that coaches’ kids are walking to their car in tears, asking their moms why people would say those things about their daddies, asking what certain words mean.
Stories about people whose constant bashing of their husbands has caused wives to stand up and move to different spots in the stands.
Stories about grown women sitting in their cars crying after a game, feeling as if they’d been standing on the wrong end of a firing squad for three hours.
Y’all, I get it. Games can be frustrating.
It’s frustrating when you’re not having a good season and you feel like you should be having a good season.
It’s frustrating when your kid isn’t playing and you feel like he/she should be playing.
It’s frustrating when they throw it and you think they should run it, or they run it and you think they should throw it.
It’s especially frustrating when you feel like you don’t have any control over any of it, so you do the only thing you can do … yell.
And I’m not here to defend the actions or play-calling of every coach. We’ve been in the business long enough to know not all coaches are good coaches. There are bad ones, and maybe one of them happens to be standing on your sidelines.
But man, there are a heck of a lot of really good ones, too, and even those aren’t immune to the name-calling and criticism that’s lobbed from the stands in their direction.
So the next time you consider shouting obscenities out of frustration and anger, can I remind you of something?
Please consider the coach’s wife sitting nearby. There’s a good chance she showed up to the game with tension in her shoulders and a knot in her stomach. There’s also a good chance her marriage is struggling right now—the pressures of the season will strain even the best marriages.
Please consider the little ears all around you. Sweet, tiny ones attached to sweet, tiny bodies that hold sweet, tiny hearts that love their daddy so much. Their Daddy, whom they probably haven’t seen much of lately because he’s been game planning, preparing, mentoring, and investing in other people’s children.
And we mamas are trying so hard to fill in the gaps, to explain to them how much their Daddy is making a difference, how he’s honoring a commitment to his job, his boss, and his players.
We’re trying so hard to make his absence less noticeable with extra hugs, trips to Dairy Queen, and big smiles. We’re trying to hide the fact that we’re worn thin and occasionally questioning the worthiness of this career. I won’t lie, we are probably on edge, teetering toward tears even without your extra shoves.
We want this win more than you do, I promise. We’re wearing the same colors, cheering for the same team, hoping for the same outcome.
At the end of a long week of doing this whole family thing without our partner, please don’t be the source of our demise.
Take a step back from those bleachers, back from the passions and emotions of the game, back from the biases of parenting, and consider your purpose in those bleachers.
Aren’t you there to support the team? Aren’t you there to link arms with those coaches and players and cheer them toward victory? Aren’t you the proverbial twelfth man?
So this season, remember your shouts of encouragement in the stands will do far more for the success of this program than your shouts or mumbles of dissension ever will.
We need you there this week and every week. You are a big part of the team and the community. But please, leave the negativity at home.
Please, consider that coach’s family.