7 Tips for Being a Good Sports Parent

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Overly-competitive parents have been around since the time of the Aztecs, when moms and dads attending ritualistic ballgames would often sacrifice themselves to the gods if their children didn't show enough hustle (parents of winning children, however, took their kids to Pizza Hut).

In the centuries since, many people still fail to realize that putting too much stake into a game when you're not actually on the field can be ruinous. Just ask Pete Rose. Because it can sometimes be difficult to tell when you're crossing a line, here are some signs that you just might be a little too into the game:

  • You award yourself the game ball from time to time.
  • You occasionally catch yourself absentmindedly doodling disabled lists with every player's name but your kid.
  • You bring your own Gatorade cooler to throw.
  • You eat all the kids' orange slices at halftime and spike the peels.
  • The voodoo doll you made of your child has started to fall apart from overuse.
  • You call your wife the equipment manager and make her figure out how to fit your folding chair into its little carrying sleeve.
  • You wear shin pads under your jeans, just in case.

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If you take your anger out on the coach, the ref, or even the kids, there's a good chance you'll end up in prison. And I hear the Temperamental Soccer Dads gang doesn't fare so well in the yard. Try turning your aggression into something constructive by making your child do lots of chores after the game. You'll smile knowing that in every missed reception is a freshly painted garage.

Or, if you literally need to blow off some steam, bring a vuvusela to the game. You can holler into it as much as you want, but all people will hear is the spirited, joyful sound of international competition.

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If you think that the only difference between a good sport and a bad sport is the W before NBA, then you probably have a thing or two to learn about sportsmanship. But that's okay. All you need to know is this: Gloat only in the privacy of your bathroom, shake hands with those you want to see fail, and resist moving to South Beach when things don't go your way.

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Listen, we all know that some of these kids have no business being out on the field, that they're just going through the motions until their dads let them quit to go be friendless in the basement. But you can't get frustrated about it. So instead of shouting things like "Stop being so fat!" and "Quit taking our oxygen!" from the sidelines, try seeing these kids as motivational obstacles to the team's success. Because when life gives you lemons, it's only respectful that you don't chuck them at the fat kids on your son's football team.

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Diseases, though often just pleas for attention, can seriously impede a child from performing his or her best. It is important that you sit down with your child and ask them whether they, or their friends from school, have any diseases you should know about. Reassure them that having a disease is perfectly natural, and that you won't love them any less if it turns out cholera has been the cause of all their lousy free kicks. Just remember: Knowing is half the battle. Your kid not sucking is the other half.

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You blew it in your day. You were this close to winning state and then you threw that pick in the fourth quarter. Your dad was so disappointed that he left to go live with his second family in 'Nam. But despite any shame you might still feel, you can't count on your kid to redeem your own failed hopes and dreams. That's what Archie Manning did, and we all know how that turned out: neck surgery for Peyton. And you'll sure feel like a selfish jerk when your kid's going under the knife just to earn his old man's love.

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Because even if you do lose your cool, people will just think you're just being silly.

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