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The Horror, The Horror

There is a scene in The Queen's Gambit--the chess show about an American female chess champion who goes to Russia to take on the Grandmasters---where a large crowd is gathered to cheer on the chess players. My son comes into the room and has a look of amazement and horror, "Who could sit and watch Chess for hours!!?"

This is the same question that we get sometimes after a full multi-day tournament schedule by those who don't know or like the game. I often see the same look from the Other Parent who is typically with another of their children going to swimming, soccer or maybe even chess tournaments, but have to be at lacrosse this week. There is a look of horror and disapproval from the silent sideline parent, and mumbling.

I was cheering (screaming) one Saturday at my son, then the ref, then to everyone in general about my suggestions and observations when one of the Silent and Horrified moms stopped me. "Please stop yelling at the kids," she said. "It's not helping." Like a red cape to a bullfighter, I explained that I wasn't yelling at her son, but that my son needed to get his head in the game. A part of me knew she was right, and that I would compromise and not yell at the other kids. That lasted a game I think. She shook her head and walked away to sit in a chair well away from the other parents' cheering (screaming). I can only imagine how long that day was for her.

I had a funny conversation with a parent from a local rival team about Laxhole Parents. She was quick to point out how awful our parents were, and how vocal they were about beating her son's team. "Did you hear those comments about our kids' ages---completely inappropriate?!" (There was a big reclassing that went on this year in anticipation for High School, and there has been a lot of chatter.) I reminded her of the equally harsh comments coming from their sidelines directed at the kids---one stuck from a Laxhole Dad who yelled at his kid "You've only shot twice this whole half---that goalie is a punk. You can take that punk!" while standing beside the Goalie's mom. After the game, our parents were saying the same things---"look at how much they scream" and "did you hear what they said?!"

We lose track of our own behavior, and tend to minimize that of our own group. I think we exaggerate the tendencies of other regions and teams that are seen as aggressive, caustic, and generally loud. The Lawn Guyland teams were the benchmark for many years, but now it seems to have spread everywhere. It's almost like people who like to watch boxing and those who don't. But imagine if the boxers were your kids. Not to say that that lacrosse is a bloodsport, but after every heavy hit you will inevitably hear from the hittee's team an outcry for a foul, and from the hitter's team a celebration and a few "hey, it was a clean hit" comments. When a kid weaves in and scores easily, there are always cries of "Just HIT him!!" and "Put a body on that kid" that are a bit gladiatorial.

As we start box season again, hopefully outside for everyone, I'm reminded of another of my less-proud comments. Standing along the barrier, I encouraged my son to play tough on a slightly older kid who towered over our team who was about two years younger. "Hey, get the Big Kid, yeah, the BIG One!" After a while, one of the parents leaned over and asked that I stop calling their kid "The Big One" as he was sensitive to his size. Point taken. We were so excited to be playing well against the older kids that we forget the impact our comments can have.

To the Silent and Horrified parents out there, my apologies. I don't think I can make amends for past comments and for spoiling your hot or cold tournament day. Silent Sidelines are not coming to lacrosse any time soon from what I see. But I do know that there are some good deals on Bose Noise Cancelling headphones this season.

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