As we head towards the new year, it’s a great time to reflect on 2019 and how special it was to be a youth football parent. From my experience, it was great to see my older son Bradley excel as a center for his 8th great middle school team as he gets ready to make the jump to high school football next year. My younger son, Jared, played his third season of flag football and really did a nice job getting a chance to play several positions including quarterback.
But as we look ahead to the new year, it’s also a good opportunity for youth football parents to set some goals for themselves for the 2020 season. Here’s a look at some new year’s resolutions for the youth football parent, at least from my perspective…
Support the team and not just your child. Hey, it’s only natural to save your biggest cheers for your own child and I’m proudly guilty as far as that is concerned. Since I’m not the parent of a skill position player, I still go crazy when there’s a long run, but for me, it comes from the perspective of the fact that my son plays on the offensive line. But during those cheers, I’m also cheering on the player who ran the ball or the players that threw and caught the ball. On the defensive end, I’m cheering on the kids who made the big tackle or interception. I cheer for the whole team and not just my son. That’s really how it should be. It’s a shame that other parents don’t do the same and they really should make it a New Year’s resolution to cheer for everyone on the team.
How can I help? One of the most rewarding aspects of being a youth football parent is the opportunity to be a volunteer. In past years, I’ve been on the chain gang and was a public address announcer while my wife, Sheryl, has helped at the concession stands and with fundraising efforts. My younger son, Jared, even held a big flag with other siblings at midfield for the National Anthem at times, and also, went around selling 50-50 raffles and handled out halftime orange slices. If you haven’t volunteered for anything in the past, try to lend a helping hand in 2020.
Don’t be that parent. Being a youth football parent can be a very emotional experience. There are so many highs and lows within the course of a game that sometimes you might just want to lose your mind. But don’t be the parent who screams at the coaches or the official. Don’t be the parent that criticizes and ridicules other players on the team. Don’t be the parent that other parents are going to talk about during the week.
Love and support. Win, lose or tie, your child is going to experience a spectrum of emotions before, during or after a game. Regardless of the outcome, it’s your job to be there for your child to get them ready for the game, to cheer them on, and to be with them after the game. If it’s a big win, fire up all of the high fives, hugs and kisses that you can imagine but if it’s a loss, sometimes it can be best to just give your child some space. No matter how the game goes, just always let your child know that you are there.
Personally, I have one other resolution for the new year. In each of the last two years, my son Bradley has made the USA Football Middle School Bowl Game Series and both times I got a bit emotional when he ran through that tunnel and onto the field. If Bradley is fortunate to make the game again this season, I’ll try not to get so emotional.
Who am I kidding? I know I’m going to be emotional if that happens and that’s ok. Youth football parents should be proud of what their kids have accomplished and they should continue doing everything to be supportive of their kids and all of the other players and coaches on the field. Be the best parent you can be and have a happy and healthy New Year!
Peter is a sports anchor for the CBS Sports Radio Network, FOX News Headlines 24/7 and WCBS 880 Radio in New York. His son Bradley plays middle school football on Long Island and is a participant in the U.S. National Team program while his younger son Jared plays flag football. Peter, his wife Sheryl and the boys are busy cheering on the New York Jets when they’re not at a youth football field.