As I reflected on the concept of JoyPowered, I spent a fair amount of time trying to decide what area to focus. Honestly, this left me a bit stressed. With the holiday season coming to a close, and a new year upon us, I thought, surely everyone is ready to start this year with joy. I mean, that’s what a new year can bring: 365 new days that bring 365 more opportunities for joy. A new challenge to find joy in every day – how exciting is that? I started to dig a little deeper and consider how I can be that light and nourish others’ joy.
An area that immediately came to mind that often leaves me feeling less than JoyPowered is on the sidelines of youth sports. So I asked myself, what can I do to bring the JoyPowered concept to others on the sidelines at a youth sports event?
We see it in the news all too often, where a parent is engaged in negative behavior at a youth sports event. I have witnessed others around me speaking poorly about a coach, a player, or another fan. Actually, come to think of it, I have fallen prey to the negativity when I felt a call was not accurate or someone was yelling that a call should have occurred and it didn’t – you know the comments, like “How did they not see that travel?” or “That was a foul!”, etc.
We have all heard the concept, “like father like son” or “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” Sure, our kids have their own strengths; however, they are always watching us, and we are certainly setting an example for them to follow in the way we act on the sidelines. Our role is simple on the sideline: we should encourage the players. So here is my challenge to you: go to the sporting event, cheer loudly – but only cheer positive and encouraging words. You remember the concept you learned as a child, “if you don’t have something nice to say, then say nothing at all.” How did we as a culture forget that concept as we became adults? Here are a couple ways I think you can change the sideline experience:
I’m sure your child already knows when they made a mistake. There is no reason for you to point it out. How about finding something that they did well and cheering about that accomplishment?
There is no need to know the player’s name. Think of the impact you can make by saying “nice shot” or “great hustle.” Maybe their parent hears you and you impact they way they respond to the game, maybe not, but in my opinion it’s worth it to try.
We all watch our kids walk by and shake hands with their opponents after the game, the monotone “good game, good game.” This is customary; however, what if we encouraged our kids to think of one nice thing they noticed about a player on the other team and ask that they tell them. Something quick like, “nice corner kick,” or “great defense.”
Being a ref must be a thankless job; with one call you can make the coach, the player, and the parent mad. You know they are doing the best they can; there is no reason to believe that they came to the game with a plan to make a bad call. What if not only we as the parent, but also our player, goes up to the referee after the game and thanks them?
I think both the player and the parent have an opportunity here. Thank the coach for their time and the work they are doing to develop your child. Often these positions are volunteer positions, and it takes quite a bit of their time and patience to work in youth sports.
This may seem a bit odd; you may feel like they should thank you for signing them up, for driving them to the game, and so on. However, for me anyway, I have found that there are very few other places I would rather be than on the sideline watching my child participate in a sport they love so much. So how about taking a moment to say how much you enjoy watching them play and thanking them for the time and commitment they put into their sport?
I hope you give these tips a try and feel JoyPowered as you watch a youth athlete compete. JoyPowered is a way of life, not just as a family, but also in the workplace. If you would like to know more about JoyPowered, I encourage you to read the series of books and listen to the podcast!