I have been accompanying my son for his basketball games. His team is a good team but they are playing in leagues that are really challenging. The kids, despite trying their best, were really really challenged by the other teams. Parents are really nice, supportive of their kids, and a group of nice people to sit among and watch the game with. However, given my quiet attitude of watching games, it did bother me a bit the amount of yelling and shouting from those parents (especially the moms). For the first time today, I utilized my time analyzing their yelling and had a couple of interesting thoughts about them. Here is a list of common words that are yelled with a sharp, high pitched, loud, excited moms’ voice in a large quiet gym:
- Get it in!
- Box them out!
- Accurate passes guys!
- You guys are playing basketbaaall!
- You guys are wearing green!
- Get rid of it!
- Oh my god! [whispering when the ball goes to a bad player]
- AND THE MOST COMMON ONE: Reeeeeebound!!!
You may be thinking that I am crazy to write a post about this. But here is a few thoughts.
Categorizing those bullets above, I came up with these few categories:
1- Yelling while having no idea what the challenge is
2- sarcastic Yelling
3- blaming others
Not knowing the challenge – Level 1
The first kind is the most common. It is very funny that this is the most common attitude in life. People can only speak about what should be done while having no idea and no skill of how to do it. They keep giving instructions and eloquently describing what needs to be done while, on the other hand, cannot do it. I am sure the moms were excited and just want the kids to win but the concept still remains. Being in the court, pressured by kids 1.5 times taller than you, 2 times faster than you, and probably playing basketball a few years before you is different than sitting on the bleachers saying “Get it in!” The obvious answer is: “That is what I am trying to do!”
We tend to do this in life! We tend to give people instructions of what they should do while having no understanding of the challenges they are facing or the pressure they are under. We think we can do it better. But the fact of the matter is: we are just watching. Everyone knows what is required to make a home run: hold the bat, swing, hit, and run. We can write books about it but probably none of us can really do it. If we know how to do it in our backyard, we definitely cannot do it in front of thousands of people in the Yankee stadium.
Sarcastic Yells – Level 2
Making sarcastic comments about others who are trying their best is also an attitude we do in our life. Missing passes to the other team cannot be fixed by making a comment like “you guys are wearing green.” This is discouraging and demoralizing. Rather, a strong encouragement is the only thing that needs to be done. This is worse than the first type and hurts more.
Blame others – Level 3
This one is the worst. “Everyone else is the source of the problem.” “Everyone else is the reason for us to lose.” “Everyone but my kid.” “Everyone but my kid and the kids of those who are sitting next to me (just in case they are listening).” We do that in our life too. As Jim Colins describes it, people look from the window when problems happen (looking for someone to blame) while level 5 leaders (the best leaders in his view), look at the mirror. Looking at the mirror helps you improve and be part of the solution while looking at others makes you part of the problem. This is very demoralizing and very wrong
I am 100% sure that the moms did not mean any of the above when they were yelling. We were all just having a nice time cheering for our team and enjoying the game. But I thought of the analogy and I thought of sharing it.
One last point I want to make. I found the dads very disciplined, encouraging, and supportive. They mostly refrain from these comments. Maybe they are better than moms in keeping their emotions for themselves, or they are satisfied with the moms doing a good job yelling. 🙂