If you have kids involved in sports of any kind, you sure spend a lot of your time on the sidelines of the field, the court, or the track. There is always the hum of excitement stirring among the participant’s parents as they anxiously watch the game play out. I’ve had a lot of experience on the sidelines, with my son being in soccer for the last 6 years and recently adding football and baseball to the sports scene as well.
We spend much of our time on the field.
There’s a lot to learn from the sidelines.
While I love to join in the excitement of the game and be witness to the hard efforts and skilled abilities of the players, I often tune into the people watching the game.
Now, there’s a show for ya.
I’m actually glad to report that our soccer, football, and baseball parents are absolutely awesome in how they conduct themselves on the sidelines. I know this is a rarity. We all are incredibly supportive and have self-control when the referee makes a bad call, or the opposing team pulls some ‘not so nice moves’ to rise victorious in the fight. We are mature adults, and recognize that this is a game. Ahem.
But with that said, I think what is shouted from the sidelines is quite a portrayal of many life lessons we want to instill in our kids. There are tactics and tests that play out on the field which when used in the game of life, can prove to be quite valuable.
So in honor of all sports and the shouts from the sidelines that are heard on every field…
Here’s a few I’d like to kick out… (See what I did there?)
1. “ Let’s GO *insert name here*!” Throughout the course of your life, you will be expected to show up and be ready to give it your all. Come prepared, dressed, and ready for whatever experience that is. Always arrive with the intention to do your best. You’ll be better off for it.
2. “Get your head in the game!” Whatever you are participating in, be sure to give it your undivided attention. Stay focused and vigilant, so that you can be as effective and productive as you can in whatever endeavor you pursue. Don’t be distracted by things that may interfere with your performance.
3. “Talk to each other!” Communication and strategy are key for pretty much everything in life. Tune in to people around you and have clear interactions that will promote both engagement and understanding with others. If you can’t connect with the people you play with, the end goal will be more difficult to meet.
4. *Silence. Clapping when the injured gets up.* Always be respectful of others, especially when they fall. Compassion must always be present in everything you do. Take time to be considerate, no matter the heat of the game. Be empathetic with the wounded, because surely you would want the same for you.
5. “Brush it off!” You’re gonna fail. You are. When you miss the kick, fumble the ball, or get a foul– take the consequence with integrity and move on. It happens. To everyone. If you let your mistakes consume you, then you will surely live an agonizing life. Resilience is a necessity. Get back up, learn from it… and get back in the game.
6. “The game’s not over yet!” Don’t give up because you are being defeated. Play hard to the end, no matter the score. There will be endless opportunities for you to give up, give in, or simply let go of hope… Your attitude can play a significant role in the outcome. Sometimes the greatest victory is in those final moments of the experience at hand. And quite often, people are counting on you. Don’t let them down. Better yet? Don’t let yourself down.
7. “Way to go!” You are going to have some grand moments of glory when you give it your all. Embrace the triumph and celebrate the accolades. Be proud of what you did, and allow it to fuel your momentum in persevering with all you got. Stay humble though, for there is surely nothing more distasteful than a prideful player.
8.“Watch out for #45!” There will be people you come across who have exceptional skills at what they do, and the threat of them stealing the win is real. There will also be those who don’t play by the rules. Heed the warnings of those who can identify them, and you will be able to manage both better with that awareness.
9. “BAD CALL!!!” People in charge can make poor decisions. Sometimes even cost you the game. This isn’t easy to accept. Not at all. But guess what? Life isn’t fair. Sometimes bad mistakes are made. Often, things won’t go your way. And despite the frustrations, you may feel, at some point you need to let it go and move on. The longer you dwell on it, the more power you give it. No need for that. Do the best you can under circumstances you cannot control.
10. “Good game.” No matter how the game goes in life, win or lose- there should always be a piece of encouragement to offer in closing. That’s not only good sportsmanship, its good character. Don’t be a sore loser or an arrogant winner. Be instead, a good person. Acknowledge the efforts of all the players and be grateful you had the opportunity to play. Whatever the score, there is always something you will learn from the game.
11.“That’s $#@%!@! You #$@&*!” The shouts from the sidelines may be inappropriate, angry, and even hateful. Unfortunately, there will always be some people on the sidelines in life, who are judgmental and reckless and immature. As hard as this is, you simply must learn to ignore the negative onslaught from others and have confidence that you are playing fair and using all your abilities for a purpose. Focus in on the people who love and support you, and draw strength from their encouragement and praise. Find your people on the sidelines in everything you do.
You will need these life lessons, given to you from the sidelines of whatever game you play.
Take responsibility for your mistakes and move on.
Stay in the game.
Embrace your abilities.
Manage the difficult people.
Accept that there will be bad calls.
Tune out the haters.
And find your people…
On the field and in life.
You’ll be better off for it.