John F. Russell: Watching from the sidelines

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John Russell

John Russell's sports column appears Sundays in Steamboat Today. Contact him at 871-4209 or email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com.

Find more columns by John here.

— I’m no stranger to the sideline.

I’ve spent a great deal of my time during the past 20 years standing on the sideline watching games as a reporter and photographer for the Steamboat Pilot & Today.

I have stood on the sideline as some of Routt County’s top prep athletes stepped into the spotlight and as some of the area’s best high school teams competed for league, regional and even state titles.

The sidelines are a fun place to stand most of the time. It’s the best place to get a feel for the game, it’s the best place to be as emotions run high and it’s the best place to stand if you are like me and love the game.

Most of the time, I watch the action unfold from just a few feet away with my camera and notebook in hand. My main goal is to get as close to the action as possible, but I’ve also been able to keep my distance since the players on the field always have been someone else’s children.

Standing on the sidelines as a sports reporter is a great way to watch the game unfold, but I’ve learned the past few years that it’s a little different as a parent.

As a parent, watching the game takes on a new meaning, and as a parent, I find myself watching the game differently than I have for most of my career. The game is not just about the statistics any longer, it’s more than just goals or even which team wins the game.

Now, the game is about my child, and it has been a learning experience — especially for a guy who has spent a lifetime watching games from the sidelines.

These days, the challenge is to keep my emotions under control as I watch my daughter play soccer.

There are times when I want to jump out on the field and play the game for her when the ball rolls her way. There are times when I wish I could stop time, walk out on the field and tell her what she should do. But this is her moment — not mine.

So I stand on the sidelines and cheer. Most of the time, I’m too loud, but it’s hard to stay quiet when it’s your son or daughter on the hot seat.

I do my best not to analyze every detail of the game and her performance once the game is over — not an easy task for a reporter.

I’ve gained a newfound appreciation the past few years for those parents who have watched their children grow through recreational sports and excel at the high school level. I look up to those who have done it the right way.

I’m no stranger to the sideline or the way games are played, but I have to admit, the experience feels a little odd for this parent.

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209 or email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com

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