Russell: No one said it was going to be easy

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Life in Steamboat Springs is not easy for parents.

In the winter, parents must deal with skiing, ice hockey and school. In the summer, it's baseball, soccer and a wide range of other sporting activities.

But it's that active outdoor lifestyle that makes Steamboat Springs such a great place to live and raise children.

My only complaint is that when my first child was born seven years ago, he didn't come with some sort of warning label.

I knew that raising children would require a huge amount of work and sacrifice.

But the label could have described the large amount of time needed to chauffeur children to practices (my wife usually handles that) and games throughout the season. It would warn us about the hours spent in the hot sun or freezing cold watching children play games. And it would be nice if it also came with simple, easy-to-follow instructions about how a parent should act at their children's games.

For 15 years, I've dealt with a wide range of parents while covering youth sports.

But this summer, I've learned first-hand just how difficult it is to be a parent of a child involved in sports, and I'm trying hard not to be one of those parents.

I know it's important not to overstep my role as a parent and allow my children to enjoy sports. We've all seen that out-of-control parent along the sidelines.

I can't count the number of games I've watched when a parent yells about every call and coaches the child no matter how well the child is playing or what the score is.

It can be annoying and embarrassing, and it's about the only thing I can't stand about youth sports.

For years, I have come home and complained to my wife about such parents. Now that my son has started playing soccer, I'm trying not to be that parent.

We all want to encourage our children to play sports. We cheer for them when they do well and offer advice when they struggle.

But it's easy to lose sight of why we want our children to play. Most of us just want them to have a good time.

Unfortunately, no one ever tells you how difficult it is to stand on the sidelines and watch. Our hearts sink when our children lose, and we are thrilled when they succeed.

I think it's only natural to have those feelings.

I've also learned that the most important things are to remember how to be a good fan along the sidelines, how to offer support with positive cheering, how to provide advice when it's asked for and how to let my children enjoy sports on the field.

-- To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209

or e-mail jrussell@steamboatpilot.com

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